Oscillate Wildly has changed. Yes, it's still owned by Ross Godfrey. Yes, they're still doing eight wild and wacky courses for $95 and yes, it's still in the same dinky space it's always been. But something's up. Adrian Hobbs (ex-Forbes and Burton) is on the floor for one thing, and this has changed the flow completely. It's now a picture of serenity, calm and sophistication. Even the music is better.
The chef has changed, too - Karl Firla (previously at Est.) has replaced Dan Puskas who is now firing the pans at Sepia. The food is still fairly out-there (soils, foams and the like) but there's a bit more substance to it (read: it's not all baby food). Eating at Oscillate is an experience as much as it is dinner. It's just the one degustation and, dietary restrictions aside, everyone has the same thing.
You might start with a mix of chopped up walnut bits with chestnut, walnut puree and pomegranate jelly, topped with a honey toffee crisp, say. It's a bit like eating breakfast for supper. Move on to wide, slender lengths of yellowfin sashimi wrapped around ribbons of pickled cucumber, bits of grapefruit and a light wasabi whip to top it off. It's light, citrusy and fresh with a nice combo of textures.
Firla makes really great gnocchi. The fluffy, chubby little pillows are tossed with burnt butter and topped with coffee foam and crisp, toasted pumpkin seeds finished with a little sprinkle of ground coffee. (Pepitas and ground coffee: so wrong it's right.) Fillets of pan-fried red spot whiting nest on a pile-ette of squid ink pasta topped with a scattering of ocean trout roe. The plate is very artfully brushed with squid ink - it's like edible calligraphy.
The chicken is particularly interesting (yes, really). It's sous-vide (cooked in a bag over a low heated water bath) for one hour and two minutes (no more, no less) and served on a choc of celeriac with puffed grains and fried celeriac leaves. The bird's so tender it tastes like it's just had a long sleep. Our venison is not so great. The chocolate mille feuille on the side is slightly greasy, rather than the layers upon layers of thin, crisp chocolate pastry that we're expecting and compared to all the other interesting proteins we're served, the venison just doesn't stack up.
Slices of pressed watermelon (watermelon compressed so the flavour becomes incredibly concentrated) sandwich coconut cream while a little pile of palm seeds is mixed with coconut jelly. It's fresh and sweet and a great palate cleanser, all served in a dainty lil' glass.
The Hobbs/Firla combo is a good one - it's a smoother operation. The wine list is really well done with plenty on there for all price points, but you can still BYO. We'll drink to that.