August 17th, 2010

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Guillaume at Bennelong

Much has been made of the view from this restaurant, and it is spectacular, but the real beauty lies in the vaulted ceilings and glorious exposed concrete skeleton. This room magnificently realises Joern Utzon’s vision, though most pay handsomely to enjoy it. Savvy Sydneysiders sip on Rose Petal Vodka Martinis ($19) in the cocktail lounge’s sexy swivel chairs. There’s no obligation to dine…  but the claw meat in the Blue Swimmer Crab Sandwich ($35/4 tapas dishes) is pretty tempting! And really, this is a very reasonable price to pay to spend some time in such a wonderful, and under-utilised space.

One luxurious mouthful of duck parfait on truffled brioche in the Duo of Duck ($45), and it’ll be price be damned! It knocked the Scallops on Jerusalem Artichoke Puree ($40) right out of the water, but our mains were a dead heat.

There was beautiful John Dory ($50) on carrot and ginger puree;

...and a plate of Barossa Valley Chook ($50) with perfectly aligned macaroni gratin, so comforting I could’ve curled up to sleep!

Okay, our meals took a little long, but I’m glad I waited up for Cheese Selection ($35). I enjoyed it (particularly the runny Époisses de Bourgogne) with the 2009 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling ($80/375ml) and only a smidgen of Chocolate Soufflé ($25) envy. This is possibly my favourite dessert wine, and certainly the one I drink the most often. Even with the benefit of choices, when I see it on a wine list, my mouth waters...

I was lucky enough to also enjoy the Nougat with Roasted Peanuts, Caramel Ice Cream and Banana ($25)
which felt quite classic. It went down a treat with the Crawford River Nectar ($75/375ml). I am not usually a botrytis fan, preferring late harvest wines, but this one is a real cracker!

The comprehensive wine list leans towards France and Australia. I couldn’t imagine a better place to examine the lovely legs on a 2009 Spring Vale Gewurztraminer ($70). It's a such a quintessentially Australia place to dine, even a confirmed Francophile like me drank the home-grown variety!

Guillaume at Bennelong

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9241 1999 

Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon
Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

This Week's Column - More For The Bucket List

Published in the City Hub and City News.

Worth The Trip

It’s been a great month for new restaurant openings. I usually like to dine on this side of the harbour, but the folk at the new Neutral Bay Bar and Dining seem determined to make a trip that side necessary. I’m already salivating over Chef Alex Kearns’ (Glebe Point Diner) Crab Omelette with Bisque Butter; and with him behind the pans you’re assured quality ingredients treated with great respect. The restaurant fit-out looks mighty spiffy too…

Let’s Rock!
Universal Restaurant was recently awarded the top accolade for food and wine matching at the 2010 Wine List of the Year Awards. Owner/Chef Christine Manfield explains: “We pride ourselves on showcasing exciting food and wine matches that encourage diners to explore and experience intriguing wine varietals and regions, and discover some of the unique flavours of the world.” I was lucky enough to check out her list personally last week. Her clever staff managed to make me like a sparkling red (I generally won’t drink them) by teaming it with a dish that changed its character completely! So I KNOW you’ll enjoy the wine and food matching adventure she has planned on the 26th, 27th and 28th of October. At each of her Rockstar Wine Dinners guests will choose their wine from an amazing selection of vintage and rare ‘rockstar’ wines, and Christine will match your choice to a ‘mystery’ dish.

Simply The Best
A more obvious food and wine match is a steak with a nice glass of red. Novotel Hotels all over Australia are running a great $38 Gold Medal Meal. The steak is Certified Angus, which won a gold-medal at the 2009 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. The red wine is Cockfighter’s Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon, the blue gold medal winner at the 2009 Sydney International Wine Competition. I popped down to my local Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour to give it a whirl. As well as being rather enamoured with my nicely charred steak dripping with Café de Paris butter, brandy pepper sauce and red wine jus, I was also captivated by the glittering city view. Sometimes we skip great things buried right under our noses!

Two Chances to Map Tassy
The 3 Weeds in Rozelle are participating in Tasmania Unbottled 2010 with a special Winemakers Dinner on Wednesday 25th August. Instead of tasting wines at the busy show like me, you’ll get to drink some of the best cool climate wines Tasmania has to offer sitting in the relaxing surrounds of their restaurant. Head Chef (and Porkstar) Leigh McDivitt will put up five course of matching food, and the whole shebang will set you back $120.
One of own favourite wineries from Tasmania is the family-owned Spring Vale Vineyards. Also on the 25th August, they’ll be joining Scott Mason and the team at Blanco for a five-course meal that also feature Perigord Truffles of Tasmania. They have a top notch Gewürztraminer and some fairly special Pinot Noirs in amongst the eight wines you’ll be drinking as part of your $130 ticket. I’m finding it hard not to pick up the phone myself for this one…

Star Chef Studded
If MasterChef has whetted your appetite for celebrity chefs, throw on your glad rags and take in the culinary talents of four leading Aussie chefs at the Variety of Chefs event. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with celebrity chefs including Jared Ingersoll (Danks Street Depot), Ben O’Donoghue (Surfing the Menu) and Sean Connolly (Astral) in the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom. It’ll set you back $250/head, but it’s for a good cause – and the chefs are all donating their expertise!

The Coffee Index
Finally, with eyes turning to the imminent election, Muffin Break have got some early figures from their coffee-drinking customers Australia-wide. A bean was given out with every coffee sold, and the results of the 1208 votes cast nationwide put the Coalition at 38%, Labour at 33% and the Greens at 16%. The remaining 13% of Muffin Break voters threw their bean into the jar for minor parties in The 2010 Muffin Break Unofficial Election Bean Poll. So according to bean counter, Abbott joins the pile of has-beens due the Green bean preferences. Phew!