|You last reviewed this venue on 09 June 2005|
Don't go at low tide... I mean it. The stench from the stagnant water is BAD. The food I had (a muscovy duck breast on a bed of parsnip mash with a cherry jus) was DIVINE. The service outside was slow and ordering cocktails was an exercise in torture (they took sooooo long). But for the duck, I would return. Entrees were also nice, as was the chocolate pot dessert.
So it seemed like a good idea to see whether cocktails were still agonisingly slow, and I'm afraid it wasn't good news on that front. But the Rosemary and Watermelon Martini ($15) was worth the wait - the sprig of fresh rosemary wafted with every sip, and I am bound to re-create this at a cocktail party in the future.
Now most of the fireworks came in the entrees - I had Pork Belly with Scallops ($16) - a piece of cuisine-art, with lines of seeded mustard vinaigrette, charred pork belly and seared scallops. I couldn't quite work out what the scallops were doing there, dominated as they were by the pork and the mustard... perhaps just an exercise in jazzing up a dish with a lil' surf'n'turf flair?
Better yet was the Wagyu Carpaccio ($16) which was served with an extremely long piece of flat bread... cute but not immensely practical for photography purposes. This was an EXCELLENT use of Wagyu - full of flavour, and wafer thin, served with pepper, lemon and rocket.
Now for mains, I felt the need to deviate from my usually unusual choices (oh the weighty title of Dining Reviewer) and choose a chicken breast, as it's a common type of main. Unfortunately the waiter did not know where the chicken was from (my current favourite question)... and it's made even more disappointing by the fact that they are serving Glenloth Chicken* which is actually a really impressive thing! So my main was Glenloth Chicken with proscuitto, a green pea risotto and a crisp filo roll ($27) and it actually exceeded my expectations being crisp, tasty and well presented... but I still prefer duck!
My dining companion, not bound by the rigorous standards of dining critique, chose according to his taste - Daube of beef 'bourguignonne' with potato puree & smoked bacon ($29). For me, it was too intense, but I did love the smoky pieces of bacon, and the little mushrooms. He found it quite delightful.
We also had an excellent side of green beans, done lightly with pesto and shaved parmesan ($7) which has revolutionised my beans at home - only cut off the end that attaches to the plant, leave the growing tip - it appears to be where all the flavour is contained. This side was probably the most memorable moment in the meal for me.
Dessert came with a recommendation from the waiter, which being the critic, I felt compelled to follow - Chocolate parfait with fudge biscuit & raspberry jelly ($13). I must confess to not being very impressed - except by the little cubes of raspberry jelly which expelled so much flavour it was hard to believe you weren't just eating a raspberry (except no little seeds).
Much more impressive was a Botrytis Semillon Creme Caramel ($13) which my partner enjoyed with a matched glass of Margan Botrytis Semillon from the Hunter Valley. Apparently the dessert wine is added to the custard, and if you are careful with heat, it doesn't cook out (according to the proud young pastry chef).
All in all, this was a good experience... but it just wasn't quite there. Perhaps it pales in comparison to the dinner we had at Blancmange the night before (though it is hard to exactly put my finger on why). All the elements were there: the produce was great; the venue is attractive; the staff were perhaps a little less attentive, warm and knowledgeable; but the dishes were in theory even more to my taste (being that I like Modern Australian). Yet I walk away a tad dissatisfied, and it reminds me of how I felt the first time I went to Sugaroom - perfectly adequate, yet not magical.
2/1 Harris Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9571-5055
*Glenloth Chicken - Free Range and Cornfed
Glenloth chickens are raised in the wide open spaces of the Southern Mallee region of North West Victoria. These chickens are guaranteed free range and are fed on a diet of fresh grains including corn and have access to a natural food supply that includes pasture, a range of wild herbs and spring water. What their diet does not include are any antibiotics, or growth hormones. The end result is a chicken that is a healthier choice tastes better and has meat with a firmer texture that browns and crisps beautifully. With this chicken you will definitely notice the difference. Glenloth chickens are a past winner of the Jaguar Awards for Excellence.
*Hormone & antibiotic free
*Award winning product