I first visited Oscillate Wildly about three years ago, shortly after Karl Firla took over the kitchen. It was mostly good, though a couple of dishes missed the mark for me. (Gnocchi with coffee grounds on top was a bit too weird at the time.)
I went back a year later to give it another chance. It was very good on the second visit. A little less experimental, or perhaps just having had the benefit of a year's experimentation to get things right.
After visiting Sixpenny in Stanmore a few months ago it was time to go back to Oscillate and see how they compared.
Everything has come a long way in the two years since my last visit. Not just the renovation, which is clean and white and with extra room upstairs. The food has matured. The entrees have great variety within each dish and a wonderful balance of textures. The mains are hearty with strong flavours. Very satisfying. The desserts are playful, flavourful, and again have a focus on texture. The matched wines (which include a sake in the current line-up) are chosen to bring the flavours together rather than add anything in their own right, and they do a good job.
The whole experience is enjoyable and relaxed. I had fun playing "name that band" as the randomised playlist threw some old and some new tunes at my ears. (The restaurant's eponym is also on the playlist.) The staff were friendly and happy to explain the dishes and wines.
Is it fair to compare Oscillate and Sixpenny? Possibly: they are both fine-dining degustation-only restaurants, and only a suburb apart. But aside from the Puskas & Parry link they are not playing the same game. Sixpenny goes for simplicity. It plays up the provenance of the ingredients and uses a few in any one dish, to great effect. Oscillate goes for complexity and balance. The dishes make the flavours and textures of each ingredient work together. (While I don't remember hearing anything about the origin, sustainability or ethics of the ingredients at Oscillate, sustainability and integrity are named as "of utmost importance" on the Oscillate website.)
I thoroughly enjoyed both restaurants, and would not hesitate to recommend them or go back. Budget allowing. As a personal preference I would probably choose Oscillate two times out of three.
Total was $100 for the degustation, $60 for the matched wines. That's such good value, Molly, that I'm sure the department will cover the $10 extra for the cheese on toast. I just need your signature on the receipt attached.
275 Australia St, Newtown
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WAIT! I almost forgot to report on the self-growing lemon & bergamot-scented hand towels.