Meeting a new chef is a bit like starting a romance, except for most people Executive Chef Zac Sykes isn't new. He started cooking at the tender age of fifteen, and during his last seventeen years in the kitchen, he’s cooked alongside Stephen Hodges, Greg Doyle and Neil Perry. Call me crazy, but I like to go into a new restaurant fresh, no expectations.
My evening began with two textbook entrees - a beautifully balanced (and exciting) Kingfish Carpaccio with Pomegranate, Salmon Roe and Watermelon Vinaigrette ($22);
...and a nicely wintery plate of fat Scallops with Sweet Corn, Trompette Mushrooms and Onions ($22) that reminded me of a good ol’ Aussie barbeque.
Zac followed that with the most challenging Bouillabaisse ($36) I’ve ever eaten. I wanted to scream those fat, slippery mussels are raw! But then I tasted them, and just like that first kiss, and they were the best damn mussels I’ve had. Hang in there; he cooks seafood exactly as it’s meant to be cooked.
His Scotch Fillet ($49) with sinful onion puree, delicately treated King Brown mushrooms, roasted garlic and red wine jus is even better.
He treats June’s Leaves ($7) with verjuice and great respect, in an avante-garde setting with well-constructed wine and cocktail lists. Brad Cox's Pine and Apple Grilltini ($17) is nuts! The other one's a Detox Martini ($17), good if you're eating the night after...
The Fried Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo ($8) are both salty and joyous at the same time. They're so good I find it hard to remember what I didn't like about them back when I was a wee lass.
There were also some Oysters ($3.50/each) from the South Coast near Merimbula (they're back on form) with a superb red wine vinegar granita. I wanted a dozen after I devoured mine.
Dessert just felt like comfort: a pat on the bum, and a push to hurry along home. After all, the was weather cold and my doona was calling.
The Gateway, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9247 4445