It’s taken me a long time to find the enthusiasm to eat at Transformer. As an omnivore I eat many things and tend not to think a lot about it, apart from pursuing variety and meeting my vegetable quotient. But I have also been curious and the good reviews have won me over despite the website not containing the menu. I generally don’t enter restaurants that don’t have their menu in the window, and not having it in their digital window is just as bad.
I met a friend recently for a weekend lunch and I was impressed and pleased with the experience. It may have been about half full, and the inside is a gorgeous tranquil space far different from the cacophony of hell inflicted on customers at many minimalist tiled and concrete places. We could hear ourselves talking quietly and we had things to look at, unlike the white noise generating visual sensory deprivation chambers being installed everywhere.
From the top down we ordered to share: carrot and white bean dip; corn fritters; zucchini with polenta and olive paste; ricotta and lemon gnocchi with black fungus; and beetroots with finger lime and samphire. The presentation of every dish is beautiful, even if some of the named ingredients are decorative rather than substantial. I certainly did not get a standard 80g serve of vegetable there.
I thought the gnocchi exquisite in taste and texture, and everything else very good. Much attention to balances and contrasts of flavours is evident in the composition of every dish. The zucchini was the least interesting dish and my friend tired of it before we had finished it.
We shared a chocolate dessert with cherry sauce that was dense and rich made me want to sleep. The wine list is good, as was the service, and the experience overall is one I recommend regardless of how you label your diet.
The ambiance and comfortable seating also won me over. I’m sick of uncomfortable benches and stools and being cramped and crowded in. In this regard alone I’d favour Transformer over Smith and Daughters if taking visiting vegetarian friends out somewhere to impress them, but the food is also better. Transformer has been open about two years now, and it looks like it has the potential to be a long-term success.