Sam Miller kicks Sydney dining up to the next level with a casually sophisticated 17-course degustation ($175/head)
that had me cooing about intuitive pacing, the epic wine list, and personable staff delivering just the right amount of food.
It starts with a flurry of snacks, designed to appease gnawing hunger.Kohlrabi dip topped with explosive grenades of ‘Neptune’s Necklace’
...whole baby turnips with malt tempura leaves dipped in macadamia nut milk
, set the stage for vegetarian dishes being meal highlights.
A skeletal red-spot whiting
offsets crunchy fish bones with lovely green leaves, before...
...an achingly beautiful bowl of baby peas in wakame broth with seaweed jelly and beach plants
, rams home that this degustation will be a balanced meal with plenty of greens.
The latter dish coaxes minerality out of the excellent value 2014 A. Rodda ‘Smith’s Vineyard’ Chardonnay ($70)
– a good accompaniment to the early part of your menu.
After vividly pink salt-baked beetroot wafers in wood oil sorrel, chamomile and blackcurrant emulsion
conduct a surprise assault on your palate, it’s time to switch to red.
Star Sommelier James Audas nails my personal pinot noir preferences to a wall with the mushroomy 2014 Ochota Barrels ‘Impeccable Disorder’ Pinot Noir ($135/bottle)
. It’s so good I bought two bottles the next day. And when the neighbouring table expresses they had a bad experience with biodynamic wines, he says (with utter chutzpah): “I’m going to change your mind.
” Believe him.
You’ll also notice a generosity with technique – the kitchen staff (who group to farewell you) are happy to explain the mysterious sheet turning your fennel into a jellyfish accompanying black cobia
(salted, cured pork lard that has been frozen then sliced finely on a meat slicer), or take you on a tour of the open-plan kitchen.
Proteins, from juniper smoked lamb leg to blue eye trevalla are all well handled, with the highlight proving to be...
...the oxtail with Swiss chard and beetroot compote
. Handing us a sheathed dagger to carve them, our personable Pommy waitress says: "We are starting to trust you a little bit. I don't want you to exploit that trust...
" She’s dry and funny, great considering you’ll spend a fair amount of time getting to know each other over the seventeen courses.
My go-to dessert is peaches and cream
, which celebrates the tomato-like aspects of a peach - curiously until today I didn’t know they existed - by combining them with sorrel. Our waitress calls it “semi-peculiar
” which is pretty good description of whole menu.
Yet, that being said, there was only one course that didn’t quite please my palate: a dessert combining barely ripe mango and caramel ice cream using salt as the only bridge.
Good meal pacing means time virtually flies by in this comfortable, relaxed space; but for those inclined to restlessness, you can always spend your time spotting cleverly placed Silvereyes like good little twitchers.Silvereye
Upstairs, Old Clare Hotel, 20 Broadway, ChippendalePh:
(02) 8277 8520