The menu was 5 courses with matched wines ($130), but as is oft the case with these things, we were greeted with an amuse bouche - a rather scary amuse bouche at that! Rest your eyes on our deep-fried pig's ears with tartare sauce - texturally scary, but quite tasty once you got over the shock of eating pig's ears.
The Pork Broth with Sesame Seeds was more soothing. I am starting to really like broth-style soups, and the pork held up well to the amazing duck consommés we have tried recently at Three Clicks West and Aria. The wine - Sidre Brut Tendre, Eric Bordelet, Normandy was unlike any I have ever tried - the closest thing I could compare it to would be a (baked) apple cider.
This menu was very much an adventure for me on the road to expanding my palate - it contained a few dishes I have not ever eaten, and some I was a little scared of. The Wild Boar Terrine was a bit of a big step - but one I very much enjoyed. Our dish (which differed from the dish received by the table next to us, who were sorely ripped off) came in a cute glass ramekin. You smeared the meaty paste onto buttered bread, and ate it with zesty little cornichons. It came with a rather austere wine (Muscat Sec J. Luc Mader. 2002, Alsace) that I could recognise as being a good match to the full flavoured terrine, but wasn't necessarily to my taste when drunk without food.
The dish of the night was another of the potentially scary ones - Black Pudding, Apple, Potato and Fennel Tart. The pastry was divine, crisp at the edges, and creamy in the centre. It was laid wth potatoes and apples, then topped with fennel, lardons and crumbled black pudding, garnished with oiled rocket. To compliment the tasty tart was a Gewurztraminer Andre Kientzler. 2004 Alsace which was fruity, a little sweet and lovely to drink both alone, and with the dish.
The biggest dish (which seemed rather large for a tasting serve) was a Casserole of Rack of Pork in Hay, which was an amazing slab of pork on the bone, cooked delicately, and thus left bursting full of moisture. The best part of the dish was the rather amazing bed of spinach which was cooked to perfection, as were the sweet, juicy little onions. The crackling on the edge of the pork was lovely. I really liked this dish, and thought it was very in keeping with the French Provincial style of the menu. It showcased the quality of the produce, but I did miss the saltier handling of pork that my partner is fond of. It was matched with the wine of the night a Chateauneuf du Pape, Chateau Mont Redon. 2003 Rhone Valley, which I am told is a favourite of James Bond.
The dinner finished with a cheese course - Tomme D'Abondance with Roast Quince - and a glass of Vouvray Moelleux, Jean Claude et Christophe Pichot. 1996 Loire Valley which were a lovely combination. However I have to say, after all that pig, I just wanted something sweet - perhaps a chocolate truffle or some sorbet might have been a better choice.
All in all I walked away very satisfied, having learned more about food, tried new things, and enjoyed every dish. Service was a little less fabulous than last time - we wanted a drink prior to the first wine, but by the time we got a menu, and their attention to order from it, they said our first wine was imminent. Admittedly this was true, though had they taken the order promptly it might not have been the case. However on the other hand, my partner did get (at his request) an extra glass of wine when he finished his quickly, and more bread. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.
527 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: (02) 9319 5682