Blanca's concept of Japan x Mediterranean fusion was one that piqued my interest. Located in the Hall St dining precinct, the restaurant offers a la carte or a selection of degustation options (seven, eight or ten courses). Eager to try as much of the menu as possible, we opted for the ten course option.
We started with the Sydney Rock oysters which were given a hit of citrus flavour from the mandarin-szechuan pepper mignonette and these were quickly downed in one gulp and left us wanting more.
The slices of Raw aged beef were very tender and came served in a sesame leaf, which you roll up to eat. Together with the pickled radish and wasabi mayo, it made for a very tasty yet delicate dish.
The Bonito Pastrami looked like a painting on a plate and was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The bonito was cured and blow-torched giving it a smokiness, soaking up the umami flavours of the Yuzu-soy and brown butter dressing. This was offset by the yuzu cream which gave it a great touch of freshness.
The Peking duck croquette was exactly how you would imagine it - crunchy coating with the most delicious filling of duck, almonds and cinnamon cream inside.
The next dish of Blanca Black Bun looked just as impressive when it hit our table. The first thing that I noticed was the sheer size of the soft shell crab. They definitely didn't scrimp on the crab and the batter was super crispy. I would easily come back just for this dish.
Moving to a more Mediterranean flavour, the Grilled Octopus was served with a rich romesco dressing, garlic confit and thyme. The octopus was very tender and I especially loved the intensity of the sauce.
The Monkfish took us back closer to Japanese flavours with the white soy-wasabi dashi packing a punch. The roasting of the cabbage really brought out its sweetness.
The Pork ribs cooked in miso caramel was eaten in the form of a san choy bao. Like all the other dishes, it was full of flavour and the pork had wonderful caramelization, but unfortunately the meat was a little dry. The dish was accompanied by Crispy Blanca potatoes. Topped with aioli, furikake and a chii pickle sauce, the cripsy potatoes were irrestible and despite being quite full at this point, I couldn't resist eating them.
The Matcha Tea & Strawberry dessert was a great combination of textures and flavours, executed with great balance. The star of the dish was the sorrel sorbet, a unique flavour that was very refreshing.
The final dish of Bondi Sands with Chocolate and vanilla cream was very rich and I would have loved a few more segments of mandarin to cut through the richness.
The dishes at Blanca was an eclectic mix and I enjoyed the diversity. Service was knowledgeable and friendly, and I still can't stop thinking about the soft shell crab.
Pilu at Freshwater is an Italian fine dining restaurant on the Northern Beaches, with a focus on Sardinian cuisine. The day we visited was unfortunately a rainy one, but it was still a very picturesque setting overlooking Freshwater beach. I could only imagine how amazing it would look on a summery day.
Perusing the menu, we opted to go for the 7-course degustation ($125pp) but decided to start with half a dozen of Sydney rock oysters. These gems are from Pambula and are served with apple cider and cucumber. Sweet and plump, they were gone in a flash.
Soon after we were presented with the complimentary flat bread with house made ricotta and truffle oil. The flatbread was deliciously crunchy with a good sprinkling of salt and rosemary, perfectly paired with the creamy ricotta.
Onto the first course and it's a Smoked mullet and celeriac panada with Dill oil, apple and cucumber gel and horseradish cream on the side. An interesting blend of ingredients, the dill oil together with the horseradish cream tied the dish together.
The Ravioli of ricotta with a sea urchin emulsion and tarragon oil was unfortunately a little underwhelming. The ravioli is a traditional Sardinian version, quite different to the shape of the usual ones you see in an Italian restaurant. The skin was a bit too thick for my liking and the sea urchin flavour wasn't as strong as I had hoped.
The Fregula risotata is a toasted Semolina pasta and together with the pecorino cheese, charred onions and wild garlic puree made for a very tasty vegetarian dish.
The Barramundi in smoked ham consomme was delicious and I enjoyed the unusual textures of the sea herbs. The smoked ham consomme was crystal clear and packed full of flavour.
The Roast suckling pig is one of the signature dishes at Pilu and it's not hard to see why. The suckling pig has the great mix of crispy crackling and tender meat. The accompaniments of black olive tapenade, poached paradise pear helped in countering the richness of the dish, and I loved the flavour of the pistachio mortadella.
The palate cleanser of Pimm's and strawberry consomme, cucumber granita and mint delivered - it was light, fruity and refreshing.
The final dish of our degustation was a Sardinian pastry filled with ricotta and sultanas, drizzled with honey from nearby Forestville. The pastry was delightfully crispy and the flavours of honey, the dehydrated orange and ricotta blended superbly together.
It's the perfect place for a lazy long lunch at a beautiful location. I enjoyed some dishes more than others, so would probably opt for the a la carte option next time.
You know a meal has been phenomenal when you still reminisce about it months later and that is exactly how I feel about Momofuku Seiobo at The Star. The 14 course Carribean-inspired tasting menu, the brainchild of Paul Carmichael, was creative and the flavours extraordinary. For something different, we opted for the non-alcoholic beverage pairing which was delicious in its own right.
We started off with the very tasty morsels of Bakes, abalone and lardo: Thin slices of tender abalone from Bateman's Bay, drizzled with pork larder and accompanied by a very light and fluffy Jamaican bread.
Sitting atop a collection of sea shells are three plantain tarts filled with finely shaved snail meat. It delivered both in presentation and in taste.
The Short rib with pickled onion was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The Rangers Valley beef rib had been cooked for 36 hours so not surprisingly, it just melted in my mouth. The olives and pickled onion was great to cut through the fattiness of the short rib.
The next dish of Pickled pumpkin, caramelised pumpkin seed, zucchini and raisins were tied together by a special hot sauce. Hot and sour, it was a great pla on textures and flavours.
The Curred rice with crab smelled divine as it hit our table. There were plenty of crab meat and the curry emulsion was strong without being overpowering. The crispy bits of rice added a nice crunch to the dish.
I didn't document all the drinks from the non alcoholic beverage pairing but have to make a special mention of this Blood orange shrub. I discovered a shrub is not just a small tree. It's also a type of preserve, sweet and vinegary - made in-house, this blood orange version is one of the best drinks I've tasted.
The Marron cooked in koji butter on the charcoal grill was another exceptional dish. The marron flesh was so succulent and there was just the right hint of smokiness from the charcoal. The coconut flesh added a nice tropical element to the dish and I could have easily eaten another one!
To accompany the marron was the most buttery and flakey roti - I would rate it even more highly than the famed ones from Mamak. The other accompaniment was an onion dip with mini apples, adding a hit of sweetness. It was not what I expecting from this fine dining restaurant, but was very pleasantly surprised.
To round off the mains was the Pork loin with crackling, served with a side of Spiced pumpkin and split peas, and a Cabbage salad. The blushing pink pork loin had been aged over four weeks and carried incredible flavours, and the crackling had the perfect crunch.
Onto desserts and we start with the palate cleanser of Yoghurt sorbet with banana leaf oil and powder. Served in a coconut bowl, the yoghurt sorbet was delightfully refreshing and I loved the addition of the pink sea salt.
The Roast coconut ice cream with cocoa nib and a cashew crumb was divine. The ice cream had a great intensity of flavour, with more nuttiness than usual, and the crumb and wafer all worked well together.
I would have been happy to end the night at this point as I found the next desserts of Rum cake, marzipan and raisin too sweet for my liking.
The last sweet was a molasses toffee with coconut, lime and ginger. The waitress told us that half the diners love this and half don't. We fell in the latter category - I found it strange that they would end with such a divisive dish but aside from this hiccup, the entire meal has been amazing.
The staff was friendly and professional and I loved being able to look into the open kitchen to see the team of chefs at work. The flavours are bold and creative, and it was one of the most memorable and exciting meals I've had, different to any degustation I've had before.
Yellow in Potts Point manages to showcase how delicious vegetarian food can be in a fine dining setting. We tried the five course tasting menu and it was a wonderful play on flavours and textures throughout.
We started with a little appetiser to warm up our taste buds: Peruvian potato chip with black garlic sauce and Szechuan pepper salt.
The first course was Avocado, pinenut and lime served with melon segments and a kaffir lime oil. Given the sky-high popularity of avocado these days, it's not surprising to find it as the centerpiece of a dish. The kaffir lime oil was very fragrant and went brilliantly with the creaminess from the avocado.
Next was the House made cultured curd, with chargrilled cucumber wrapped in a sesame leave. It was a pleasant dish but lacked the boldness of flavour that permeated though the other dishes.
On the other hand. the Zucchini, Sunflower, Quinoa and Green Juniper delivered in terms of contrasting flavours. The zucchini was creamy and rich, and I enjoyed the toastiness of the sunflower and quinoa crumble.
The Eggplant, sweet corn and miso is a combination of some of my favourite ingredients so not surprisingly, it was my favourite savoury dish of the meal. The eggplant was topped with crispy puffs of wild rice, accompanied by a ginger, garlic and yuzu broth and served up with the most silky sweet corn puree.
Fittingly, the dessert of Mandarin, coconut and toasted almond with verjuice granita and bee pollen carried a few shades of yellow. Such a variety of flavours and textures, it tasted amazing when you took a mouthful with a bit of everything.
The food at Yellow is creative and beautifully presented. The service was not very attentive on this occasion but whether you are a Vegetarian or not, Yellow is definitely worth a visit.
The two-hatted Sixpenny had been on my go-to list for a while and it certainly delivered in terms of flavour, texture and service. We were seated in the private dining room, where we had a full view of the kitchen watching the chefs weave their magic.
Our 8 course degustation started with a trio of snacks. Side note: each dish is brought out by the chefs and they take great care to explain the dish to you. The Green tomatoes, grown in the Blue Mountains, looked like tomatoes but tasted like sour grapes. The Pumpkin Scallop is a tasty morsel of confit pumpkin deep fried and topped with some pumpkin seed salt. My favourite of the snacks though were the Cheese gougeres. They were delightfully fluffy, covered with a layer of cheddar shavings. The filling of cheese combined with the green tomato jam was simply delicious.
The Spanner Crab with Clam Butter and Trout Roe was a very delicate dish, with quite a strong hit of saltiness.
The Venison Tartare looked striking as it hit the table, though the tartare itself was actually hidden under a layer of hazelnut shavings. The combination of the earthy beetroot with the sweet hazelnut and the gamey-ness of the venison is genius.
Potatoes are often just a side accompaniment but here at Sixpenny, they take centre stage. The mini cylinders of potatoes are cooked in an oyster butter emulsion and paired with slices of raw mushrooms and mushroom powder. It's amazing how so much umami flavour can be generated from such a simple selection of ingredients.
The Spanish Mackarel with Radicchio was another highlight. The mackerel was beautifully cooked but the star of the dish for me was the tomato and fermented cucumber essence. It provided a lovely sweetness and contrast to the bitterness of the radicchio.
Onto the last savoury course of the meal, the Lamb rump with roasted leek and caramelised pumpkin juice was another good dish, but lacked the wow factor of its predecessors.
The pre-dessert was another deceptive simple yet spectacular dish. The Mead Vinegar Custard was silky smooth and together with the frozen beads of raspberry and the intense flavour of the strawberry consomme definitely made my tastebuds sing.
The Feijoa Granita with the white chocolate cream and white chocolate disc was slightly on the sweet side for me.
Our final dish was the Cocoa Ice Cream with Wattleseed Caramel and Toasted Farro. The ice cream was super smooth and the addition of the toasted, salty farro added a really interesting dimension to the dessert.
In the unassuming suburb of Stanmore, Sixpenny lives up to its numerous accolades and deliver a great fine dining experience.
One of the most memorable dining experiences ever was at Sepia several years ago. I had a chance to go back recently and was understandly super excited, but a tad nervous that sky high expectations might not be matched. I clearly needn't have worried.
The trio of amuse bouche of Saikou salmon, smoked scarlet prawn and Hiramasa kingfish looked absolutely divine. Encased in the perfectly spherical Saikou salmon were smoked salmon roe, bursting with flavour. The Kingfish wrapped in the wafer thin tatami iwashi (a blanket of dried little fish) was perfectly balanced with the jamon cream. The smoked prawn with carrot powder dumpling was incredibly delicate, but did not have the wow factor of the other two morsels.
The first course was the Spanner crab, sake vinegar jelly, brown butter emulsion, pea and horseradish. There was theatre at the table with the use of liquid nitrogen forming horseradish snow sprinkled over the dish. The crab meat was so sweet and tender (having been cooked in butter at 70 degrees). The fine sheet of sake vinegar jelly draped over the crab meat added some tangy notes, pairing wonderfully with the creamy brown butter emulsion which reminded me of the buttery base of a cheesecake. All the flavours worked really harmoniously together and did not overpower the spanner crab.
The next course of Sea scallop, macadamia nut cream, quail egg looked incredible as it arrived at our table. The scallops were sweet and plump, delicately matched with a smooth macadamia nut cream. The 'wreath' of scallop crackling with flowers added a nice textural touch to the dish.
The Charcoal grilled black lip abalone was very tender to eat, with almost a 'meaty' texture. The dashi cream and wakame oil gave it a great depth of flavour.
Continuing the seafood theme, the Bonito with roasted chicken cream, smoked soy and caviar was on point for flavour. The star of the dish for me was the luscious roasted chicken cream - made from the roasting of several chickens with butter, white wine and herbs.
The next dish of Seared uni with smoked bone marrow, cauliflower, yuzu kosho and toasted milk bread was small in size but ginormous in flavour. All the components worked well together and really enhanced the flavour of the uni.
Onto the mains: we started with the Roasted Aylesbury duck breast. It would be hard to find a more perfectly cooked piece of duck - perfectly pink and tender. The mulberry vinegar really gave the dish a slight acidic kick, balanced perfectly with the sheep yoghurt.
The David Blackmore wagyu with Jerusalem artichoke, miso and pine mushrooms was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Apart from looking spectacular, the wagyu was incredibly tender and buttery, combining so well with the sweet, creamy miso. The pine mushrooms on top were just absolutely bursting with flavour.
Even though I was starting to feel a bit full, I couldn't go past the optional cheese cost of Comte and pear jelly. The dish looked amazing - the pear was lying on a bed of shaved comte, interspersed with walnuts and celery. The pear was actually made of sorbet and inside was a mix of liquid cheese with pear jelly. It's probably the most inventive cheese course I've ever had. But be warned - it's best to share the cheese course as it is quite a lot of cheese!
Getting us in the mood for dessert was the Raspberry, salted white chocolate chantilly with wild strawberry syrup. I thought the texture would be similar to granita, but it was a bit more creamy and melted away as soon as it entered my mouth.
The first dessert of Milks involved eight different textures of milk - incredible! The smorgasboard of flavours and textures, ranging from coconut yoghurt to sheep milk sorbet and milk cake was amazing.
Now for Sepia's signature dessert - the Winter Chocolate Forest. The Chocolate Forest is an absolute joy to eat. Every spoonful, you discover a different flavour and texture combination. There's the aniseed flavours of the fennel fronds and the licorice juxtaposed against the smooth blackberry sorbet, the sweetness of the rose jellies and of course, the rich chocolate soil.
One more thing - Sepia has an incredible tea menu and if you want something other than wine, I would highly recommend it. The teas were served hot then poured over a jug full of ice. I can't recall exactly the varieties we tried but they were delicious and refreshing, well worth trying.
It's hard not to be wowed by Martin Benn's Sepia. The meal was nicely paced, service was impeccable and every dish was beautifully presented. The food is exceptional and each plate of food is a wonderful showcase of balancing flavours and textures. Sepia will continue to be one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney.
For Valentine's Day this year, my boyfriend and I decided to dine at Popolo, a restaurant focusing on southern Italian food in Rushcutters Bay. The restaurant had a special San Valentine five course menu. We both picked a different dish to try for each of the courses, so really it was more like a ten course degustation!
We started with the Seaweed fritters, offered as an apertivo. It looked like something from outer space - airy, green puffs on skewers. There was a subtle flavour of seaweeds and reminded me of eating prawn crackers, only in a spherical shape.
For Antipasti, we started with the Veal carpaccio. The thin slices of veal were succulent and went well with the gooey-ness of the yolk and crunchiness of the puffed rice. However, I was missing a little sprinkle of salt on this dish to really bring out the flavour of the dish.
The Spatchcock on the other hand, I had absolutely no complaints about. The char grilled flavour really came through and the accompaniment with the salsa verde gave it an extra kick of flavour. The roasted baby capsicums were some of the sweetest I have ever tasted. I could have definitely eaten this as a main.
For Primi, we opted for the Fregola and the House made spaghetti. The Fregola (a type of pasta from Sardinia) took on a stunning red colour thanks to the beetroot juice. Even though the truffle pecorino isn't visible on the plate, it definitely was the hero of the dish. The creaminess of the pecorino and the aromaics of the truffle really permeated through. We scraped the plate clean, it was that delicious!
The House made spaghetti with scallops, zucchini flowers and tomato was also one of the best pasta dishes I have had in Sydney. Again, it was simple with only a few ingredients but it was all cooked to perfection and brought together with generous lashings of olive oil.
Onto the Secondi... by this stage, we were already getting rather full! The Lamb backstrap was beautifully cooked but it did not have the wow factor of the preceding dishes. I did enjoy how the flavours all worked together with the sweetness of the confit cherry tomato and the smokiness of the eggplant.
The Duck breast was also very enjoyable to eat and I especially liked the roasted eschallots, which had an intense sweetness to them.
For dessert, we tried the White chocolate mousse with chocolate sand and balsamic macerated strawberries. The mousse was velvety smooth and well balanced with the chocolate crumbs and the strawberries (some of them macerated, others had a freeze dried like texture). It was a beautiful way to finish off the meal...
...together with our second dessert - the Cheese selection with house made fig jam.
For $95 pp, it was good value for the amount of food we ate. The service was efficient, but not as friendly as I was expecting, given the name Popolo means people in Italian. Overall, I was very impressed by the quality of the food and especially the two pasta dishes, which are some of the best I've had in Sydney.
Ester is a restaurant that has been on my wish list for a little while now. I finally had the chance to visit with my family and it lived up to its expectations. With a wood-fired oven as the focal point of its kitchen, the flavours of the food really shines through. For ease of ordering, we opted for the $72 set menu.
Starting off with the Squid dumplings, the appearance of the dish was quite jarring (courtesy of the squid ink). I loved the chewiness of the dumpling skin and the cutlefish and pork filling was quite tasty.
Next was the Wood-fired roasted Rock oysters. The oysters still retained the texture normally associated with a raw oyster but with the additional smokey flavour. Despite not usually being a fan of horseradish, the horseradish emulsion went quite nicely with the oysters and definitely whetted our appetite for the food to come.
The Blood sausage sanga is definitely a step up from the average sausage sanga! The blood sausage had incredibly tasty, served on a fluffy steamed piece of white bread with aioli and caramelised onions. I could have downed a few more of these!
The Kingfish sashimi was beautifully fresh and combined beautifully with the charcoal nori sauce, the smooth bonito emulsion and the orange zest powder. All the flavours just worked when mixed with one another.
The King prawns were chargrilled to perfection and tasted divine with the capers and generous lashings of brown butter. Definitely a dish to savour!
The Peas/ lardo/ corn dish was not very inspriing on paper but it most definitely delivered. The lardo mixed with the fresh peas and corn made this a mouthwatering dish (though most definitely not the healthiest!).
The wood-fired Cauliflower is Ester's signature dish so I was definitely eager to see what all th fuss is about. The cauliflower is ginormous and the time in the wood-fired oven gives it a lovely smokey and sweet flavour. Together with the creamy almond emulsion, toasted almonds and mint, it made cauliflower one amazing tasting vegetable!
The Flank steak was marinated in fermented rice and was wonderfully tender and juicy. I loved the accompaniments to the dish too - the sweet, falling-apart leek and the smoked onion puree.
Onto desserts and the Salted caramel semi-freddo had the balance of sweet and salty just right. I'm a sucker for anything with black sesame so the sprinkling of black sesame powder took this to another level.
Our last course of our very filling menu was Three milks, which consists of a cows milk panna cotta, a sheep's milk foam, a goat's milk dulce de leche, olive oil biscuit crumbs and rosemary. It's best when all the components are mixed together as you get the lightness of the yoghurt, the sweetness of the dulce de leche and the creaminess of the panna cotta. Overall, it was a bit too sweet for me but I really admired their creativity.
I had a great time at Ester and will be back for sure to try the rest of their menu (the bone marrow is calling me!). The use of the wood fired oven injects amazing flavour to the dishes and I love the rustic nature of the food. It's definitely a place meant for sharing so bring your friends or family along!
For an early birthday celebration, I was treated to a 10 course tasting menu at Gastro Park at Potts Point. Helmed by Grant King, the menu showcased molecular gastronomy at its finest and each dish was intriguing and had a sense of fun.
Starting with the snacks, it took a few seconds to compute what has landed on our table. Perched on the black stones were a couple of slices of citrus cured salmon and an edible garden tartlet with pumpkin puree. The salmon was delicious with a hit fo zinginess and the tart was full of flavour with an extra crispy black wafer shell.
The last component of the snacks were the Wagyu beef grissini, which were a joy to eat. The beetroot powder and pecorino cheese made a great combination with the thin slices of smoked wagyu.
The scallop ceviche with pomegranate juice was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Firstly, the theatre the dry ice created was magnificent. Opening the shell revealed these delicate slices of scallop ceviche in a vibrant red pomegranate juice. The scallops were melt in your mouth tender and I could have easily drank a few shell-fuls of the pomegranate concoction.
The seared artic scampi was perfectly cooked with the coconut and apple adding a freshness to the dish.
Ever since seeing this dish on Masterchef, I had wanted to try the Liquid butternut gnocchi for myself and it definitely lived up to expectations. The pearls of pumpkin soup is held together by the thinnest of membranes, each uniform in size. Taking each gnocchi as a whole, the pumpkin soup just bursts in your mouth and is an absolute delight to eat. The consomme was equally divine - it's so intense in flavour I felt like I was eating a bowlful of mushrooms! The consomme was a little more cloudy than what I was anticipating, but the flavours were faultless.
The Jewfish had an extra crispy skin and was teamed with a rich roast bone sauce, fried enoki and a parsnip powder and foam which was again, so incredibly intense in flavour.
The pork belly was cooked perfectly, with a rich mixture of spanner crab and pork ‘pebbles’ which were basically like pork crackling broken down into a hundred pieces - heaven!
Cooked for two days in a sous vide water bath and finished on a robata grill, the Riverina short rib was nothing short of amazing. I didn't get a photo of the beef which cut as I was too busy devouring it, but it was still perfectly pink in the middle after 48 hours of cooking! The short rib had just the right amount of fat too and every accompanying element on the plate (the smoked eggplant puree, peas and pods) helped to enhance the star of the dish. My bf and I were so gobsmacked by the quality of this beef we started googling to see where we could buy a sous vide machine to recreate it at home!
On to desserts! The sheep milk's yoghurt, srawberry and pomelo icy pop was a playful palate cleanser.
My bf was trialling a non-dairy diet, and he got a Celery sorbet. I had my doubts but it was incredibly refreshing and I actually really, really liked it.
The Robata pineapple was another highlight of the night. It was beautifully caramelised without being overly sweet. The sorbet by itself was a tad overpowering but when eaten together with the shell and buttermilk, was just perfect. It's a very clean and refreshing dessert where all the flavours just work together. My bf got the coconut sorbet in place of the yuzu version, which was equally delicious.
The final dessert and course of the night is the Chocolate, honeycomb and vanilla sphere. Cracking the chocolate shell open, out oozes the vanilla and honeycomb lava. It's like a Cadbury creme egg but flavoured with cardamom, saffron and ginger - an extravagant end to an extravagant meal.
Gastro Park definitely deserves its hatted status. The food did take a little while to come out, but completely understandable given they often had to make a non-diary variation of each dish. Service was top notch and they were incredibly accommodating with the dietary requirements, offering alternative dishes that were just as high in quality as their standard menu. The food is inventive and creative, making for a memorable dining experience.
You know it's a good meal when you are still thinking about it weeks later, and that's the case with Cafe Paci. What started as a pop up has now been opened for two years, as Sydney has fallen in love with the creative dishes of Pasi Patanen. It was definitely one of the most inventive and creative meals I've ever had.
The meal started with a plate of snacks. The wafer thin oat crackers topped with oyster cream and black garlic were very tasty. The rye biscuit with lardo, kohl rabi and apple had a nice sweetness, topped with a sprinkling of bacon powder. But my favourite snack was the pastry tart with ocean trout fish floss and dill sour cream. The tart was the just the right amount of crumbliness and the fish floss really packed a punch of flavour.
Coming on a separate plate was the Rye Taco topped with rice pudding, egg butter and sour onions which was wonderfully buttery and creamy.
The bread then arrived and it was no ordinary bread - it was a Finnish Rye Bread made with Potato Flour and brushed with molasses, served with house churned butter. Served warm, it was quite dense and moist, and the molasses gives it a raisin-like sweetness. I knew I should have been saving stomach space for the rest of the courses, but I couldn't stop eating it.
The seasonal degustation menu details only a list of ingredients, leaving it to our imagination to figure out what we would be having. The Blue swimmer crab, pickled carrots with tarragon cream dish had just the right sweet and savory notes. The pickled ribbons of carrot were beautifully presented on the bed of crab meat and it must have taken incredible knife work to slice them so thinly. Meshed with the tarragon cream, it tasted like it came straight from the sea.
When the next dish hit the table, the collective reaction was "Wow". Combining some of my favourite foods on the world, the Duck, Hazelnut, Radicchio, Raspberry creation was visually stunning and definitely one of the highlights of the night. The Confit Duck, covered in Hazelnut Milk, Roasted Hazelnuts and Radicchio dusted with Freeze Dried Raspberry was a genius combination. The duck was juicy and tender, with the hazelnut adding both creaminess and crunch. The acidity in the raspberry and the slight bitterness of the radicchio really helped to cut through the richness and it was a real flavour explosion in the mouth. Interestingly, at times, it almost felt like I was eating a dessert!
The lofty standards were maintained with the next course: Cabbage, Mussel Butter, Bone Marrow and Pomelo. Cabbage can be pretty plain and boring, but when it is roasted in mussel butter, it is a whole different story. The cabbage was soft and tender, with a real sweetness. The mussels were incredibly plump and juicy, and mixed with the pomelo sauce, the bone marrow and the poached pork lardo was just so utterly delicious.
The menu said Photato. Was it a Pho with potatos? We were close...It was a modern take on the Vietnamese classic. There were the beautifully cooked slices of rare Wagyu beef, the chewy enoki mushrooms, garlic chips and of course, the super thin potato noodles which were served al dente. The broth was very flavoursome though I do think I prefer a traditional, hearty bowl of pho over this intepretation.
We took up the offer to share the optional cheese course between us, which involved Gorgonzola with prunes rolled in seasame seeds and crackers of dehydrated chocolate mousse. The dehydrated chocolate mousse was really light and airy, and paired perfectly with the gorgonzola which was really gooey and creamy.
And now we move onto dessert! The Carrot, Yoghurt, Liquorice combination was intriguing and not being a fan of liquorice, I was a little apprehensive about it. However, all my doubts were erased once I dug into the dish. The outer layer was a super light yoghurt foam, followed by a layer of carrot sorbet and finally, the liquorice cake as the base which had a mild aniseed flavour. It was a wonderfully balanced dish and really lit up our tastebuds, and we were craving for more.
The main dessert was Pear and Parsley with Poached Pear, Custard, Parsley Sorbet and Candied Parsley. I had never had parsley in a dessert before and the herbaceous tones really went well with the perfectly poached pear and custard. The quenelle of parsley sorbet was just ridiculously smooth.
The meal ended with the Petit Fours. The Pork and Fennel, being pork crackling coated in chocolate and fennel seeds was a daring combination. The pork crackling almost melts in the mouth and again had the sweet and savoury notes. The Corn and Butter was indeed fairy floss sprinkled with bits of pop corn. For me, it was a bit too much sugar and the only dish where we didn't wipe the plates clean.
All in all, it was one of the best meals I have ever had. Service was great from the moment we walked in the door. Whilst the palette of the restaurant is predominantly grey, it is definitely not how I would describe his food - which is filled with bold dashes of colour! The menu is original and inventive, and really opened up my mind to a lot of flavour combinations that I had not considered before. Hopefully, it stays open for a little while longer!
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