Tag Archives: Fine dining

Jade Temple, Sydney

Neil and his new backers have swapped Australian fine dining for an attempt at high end Chinese speckled with (and I quote) “more contemporary interpretations”.  It is not very jade-y, nor very temple-y, and a few Rockpool bits still linger, covered up with some lanterns and windows of duck ready to be roasted.

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When word got out that this was opening, many commented how close in location it was to Mr Wong, and would it have any impact on that insanely popular venue, but really they are very different in atmosphere and style.  Mr Wong for me has more vibe.

I visited twice, once at lunch and once at dinner. The verdict – a mixed bag.  Great cocktail menu though, very reminiscent of Spice Temple which is a good thing.

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The oysters with ginger and black bean were delicious; loved the big green bowl even more.

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But were they kidding themselves with these chicken wings? Three little chicken wings for $19 (and some ordinary sweet and sour sauce), with a very sub par batter.

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Likewise these pork short ribs (I think that’s what it was, I tried to put it out of my mind) were rather ordinary.

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The pork and prawn shumai (3 for $12, same as Mr Wongs) were at standard.

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Liked the texture in these crystal dumplings with truffled mushroom but I found them a bit dry.

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The “pineapple” bbq pork bun was very good indeed, tasty pastry, flavoured meat, but really didn’t look anything like a pineapple that the menu description implied.

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I did love the XO pippies though, a great XO.  We tried them with the crunch noodles for something different but steamed would be better for absorbing the sauce.

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On the second visit I tried the XO with steamed scallops.

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The Madarin style bass grouper has unusual flavour, but in a good way, I can’t quite pick it.

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I recommend the rusty razor blades, had it on both visits, pork with caramel and chilli.  I was worried it would be too sweet but the balance of the sweet and the spice is spot on.

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Beautiful steamed noodles, so silky,  but the shrimp floss was too salty for me.

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So while the savoury was a mixed bag, the desserts shone.

The flavours of Phil’s vacherin must be a shout out to the Rockpool vacherin, and delightfully refreshing.  The lemongrass spoke Thai to me rather than Chinese, but that didn’t stop the enjoyment.

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I love sago, it’s one of those things people love or hate, so I really enjoyed the sago and mango pudding.

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And we all just adored the fried vanilla and date ice cream, splashed with maple sauce. So good.

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For groups, there are banquet menus for $75 and $95.

Jade Temple, 11 Bridge Street, Sydney
http://www.jadetemple.com.au

Jade Temple Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bouche on Bridge, Sydney

Bouche is the latest venue to join the blossoming line up on Bridge St, but one that is easy to miss with a discreet and slightly set back door.  Chef Harry Stockdale-Powell presides in the kitchen, hailing from Rockpool and Marque.  The influence of the latter is evident in particular, with some decidedly Marque-esque plating and little, but not too much, trickery.   The vision is a “new take on fine dining” and you can see where they are going – no tablecloths, an attractive bar, and quality produce on the menu, sparsely worded as seems to have become the norm. But the staff, as I found on my couple of visits, are truly excellent and more than happy to fill in the blanks and aid your decision making, or not.   The food itself was mixed – some excellent dishes, some good, and some a miss; I’m sure a kitchen team of this pedigree will iron out the kinks over time.  It was the smaller dishes overall that didn’t hit the mark for me.

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We start with oysters with a blood orange granita and wakame.  Great oysters, but too much blood orange and they were a little drowned and lost.

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The combination of kingfish, beetroot and pomelo is a good one but it was a little dry and needed some dressing.

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It was the duck neck sausage with marsala prunes that disappointed most, we were looking forward to it but it just lacked flavour and tasted very fatty, nor did I enjoy the marsala prunes. It was also a cold dish which was unexpected.

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However I loved the Jerusalem artichoke, an underrated vegetable, done sous vide and then grilled, served with a parsley root oil and sheep’s milk.

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The eschallot tarte tatine with parmesan ice cream is a clever dish.  Generously sized, it could be shared as an entrée between four trying a few plates or make a main course for a vegetarian. A little more seasoning wouldn’t have gone astray, and the ice cream is silky but the parmesan flavour too subtle.

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The main course proteins though, rock it.  The short rib with horseradish and sorrel is butter meltingly tender and just delicious.

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So too is the Wessex saddlebag suckling pig.

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And then oh! The baked mash! Don’t miss it whatever you do.

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If you do feel like dessert but not something overly sweet go for goats cheese with beetroot and liquorice sponge.  I’m not a fan of the sponge but I adore the texture and freshness of the beetroot sorbet.

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The caramelised nectarines with a fine honeycomb disk and a frozen sorrel also wins me over.

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The hazelnut and chocolate ball with malt is huge and easily shared (in fact, all the desserts are generous) and a bit too rich for me, but any chocolate lover would be very happy indeed.

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Bouche on Bridge, 6 Bridge St Sydney, ph +61 2 8278 9400
http://www.boucheonbridge.com

Bouche on Bridge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bistro Guillaume, Sydney

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The Small People are not so small any more.  I blinked and another birthday had arrived. As has become custom, the four of us go out to dinner.  With the Marito being a vegacquarian and our home meals centring around that, our identical little carnivores like to go out for a good steak.  I knew that recently opened Bistro Guillaume’s steak frites would deliver, so off we went.  Guillaume is presiding that evening, in a kitchen that seems to be a remarkable oasis of calm.  He spots us playing a game of Uno at the table – a special birthday request of the Small People – and has a chuckle; I doubt its something he sees too often at his restaurants.

The restaurant itself is classic and spacious; dark floors, comfortable chairs, a smattering of banquettes. The staff are excellent, attentive and knowledgeable and we are very well looked after that evening.

We have our eyes on dessert so skip entrees that night and go straight to mains, though I do want to go back and try a few, in particular the steak tartare and the chicken liver parfait.  They also seemed to be doing a roaring trade in the charcuterie plate.

But first some lovely Iggy’s sourdough arrives at the table with some house butter. I also start with a refreshing Guillaume Spritzer.

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The boys get their desired Steak Frites, which they pronounce to be up to standard.  The Bernaise, which we request on the side, is creamy with the right amount of vinegary tartness.

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My confit of duck is on the small side compared to other mains but rich and delicious. The Small People, whose eyes tend to be bigger than their stomach, like it too.

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The star is the whiting Colbert, Colbert being a French presentation technique. It is completely deboned, and there is some serious chef flair on display here. Totally delicious and the Marito generously hides his reluctance in letting us all try a bit.

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Never ask Guillaume how much butter is in his Paris mash, he won’t tell you, just enjoy it.  And the beans come with a tasty pistachio pesto, though I did not expect them to be cold.

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There are a few individual desserts on offer like the apple tart and the profiteroles, which one of the Small People opts for. The waiter goes to drizzle chocolate sauce on top but the boys have their own idea and hold onto it for later. The vanilla bean ice cream is fantastically vanillery (yes that is a made up word).

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The rest of us only have eyes for the Dessert Trolley, which attracts saucer type eyes from surrounding guests when the waiter wheels it over.  For $25, you can try a bit of each, or as few or as many as you want. I say to our waiter, “So if I just want Paris brest and nothing else, would you just give me half of that wheel?”. “Pretty much”, he replies.

We opt for the lemon tart (the Marito says One.Of.The.Best.Ever), the Paris brest (gorgeously rich and with pronounced hazelnut cream, as it should be), Mille Feuille (wonderful pastry, but overall not as good as the one I had at Jacques Genin in Paris, but I’m being picky), and chocolate mousse (devoured by Small People, not my kind of thing).

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No sweet tooth? Choose from the cheese trolley instead.

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If you don’t want a sit down meal, on the side you can grab takeaway coffee, sandwiches, quiches, and tarts. There was also a rumour floating around that he is planning to air freight in croissants from Melbourne’s famed Lune – hope so, I’m lining up for the almond.

You wanted it to be a Taste of Paris, Guillaume? I think you’ve done better than that.

Bistro Guillaume Sydney, 259 George St, Sydney Ph 02 8622 9555
http://www.bistroguillaumesydney.com.au

Bistro Guillaume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Missy French, Potts Point

A friend from Melbourne is in town and we’re catching up to discuss various First World Problems (what size handbag she should buy, where to find camisoles for suits, when am I ever going to buy an iPhone and the like) and a few more serious ones (food security, educating our children about good health, how to get our husbands to do more housework). And Josephine Perry’s recently opened Missy French is the right place for a girly meet, sophisticated with a decidedly feminine touch. There is no sign of the building’s colourful former occupants, among them a Japanese brothel and an illegal gambling house.

A real live Missy French is at the door to greet me – “alors, I ‘ave a lovely banquette for you” – and it is indeed lovely and the perfect spot to see what is going on in the rest of the pretty room. The Perry commitment to good service is obvious – when water is bought to the table, I ask for some ice which is bought promptly. But another staff member whisks it away, saying “we should put it in a prettier glass than that”, and returns with some gorgeous cut crystal.

The menu has a good mix – I’d be quite content with any of the dishes on it in the unlikely event I’d actually allow someone to order for me – and we are given a debrief and presented with a short but well considered wine list. So here is where we end up

Chicken liver parfait with brioche and cornichons. Classic and rich, I’m glad I decided to walk the two kilometres here from the office.missyfrench (4)

Prawn bisque with corn custard. Perfectly cooked prawns, silky custard but alas the bisque is underseasonedmissyfrench (3)

Parisienne gnocchi with pumpkin and sage. These are different to your Italian version, creamier is the best way to describe them, and they are damn deliciousmissyfrench (6)

So too is the pithivier – which I completely mispronounce, but it’s essentially a very fancy French pie – with succulent pork, peas, a very tasty jus and flaky pastry.missyfrench (5)missyfrench (7)

We are quite full by now and decide to share a dessert, the Lemon and Lime Eaton Mess – a chilled and refreshing combination of sweet and sour.missyfrench (8)

We leave content, First World Problems largely resolved; the husbands and housework issue may however need a follow up session. “Bonsoir” says the live Missy French, “see you again”.  She may well.

Missy French, Rothwell Crescent, Potts Point
http://www.missyfrench.com

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Missy French Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Young Guns dinner @ LuMi Dining

The Young Guns series is a clever collaboration between four Italian restaurants and their four great chefs – Federico Zanellato (LuMi), Victor Moya (Ormeggio), Matteo Zamboni (Pilu), and Mitch Orr (ACME) – with hosts Alessandro Pavoni and Giovanni Pilu. Each restaurant is taking a turn at hosting a dinner and showcasing dishes. The degustation was $80, or $125 with matching wines, so it was a great value – and delicious – evening. There was an extra dish on offer for $10 which we readily agreed to.

First Course: LuMi “snacks”
Salt and vinegar rice chips – heavenly lightyoungguns (2)

Porcini Brisee with Marscapone and a Macaron with onion and chicken liver. Loved them both; the porcini brisee had a beautiful crumbly texture and was something new and different, as was the savoury macaron.youngguns (3)

Jerusalem artichoke chips – very clever. I love Jerusalem artichoke but would usually use it four puree or soupyoungguns (4)

And of course LuMi’s signature Chawanmushi. The last time I came here I had it with tomato water; this time it was with an onion consommé and a little caviar. The texture on that custard! I have to say that LuMi has been one of my favourite dining experiences so far this year and the meal that night reaffirmed it.youngguns (5)

This was followed by some warm delicious bread and grissiniyoungguns (6)

Second course: Ormeggio roasted capsicum and mozzarella salad with Mediterranean herbs. A feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The texture of the balls reminded me of the liquid gnocchi at Gastro Park. Very clever and freshyoungguns (7)

Third course: Pilu’s Cappelletti with lentils, red wine and vegetable broth. Zamboni explained to us that this dish was completely vegan, not something you find often in Italian cooking. It was an interesting dish and with each mouthful you could taste different elements of the flavour.youngguns (8)

Fourth course: ACME’s pig’s head with cime di rapa and condiments. Don’t think too much about the fact that you are eating a pig’s head and dig in! Loved the flavour combination here; rich juicy pork cut through with the bitterness of the rapa, and I particularly loved the soy and vinegar dipping sauce, which Mitch told us was actually based on a Filippino sauce.youngguns (9)

Fifth course (extra course): Lumi Burrata, honey, rosemary and vinegar meringue, served with casarau. Oh! This was a table favourite. Devine! What a combination! And then if you threw in some crispy bits of casarau, a specialty Sardinian crispy bread, it became even better. This could have passed as a dessert.youngguns (10)

youngguns (11)Sixth course: LuMi’s Yuzu with licorice and mandarin curd. The plate was freezing cold and Federico tells us that it has been put in the blast chiller at -25 degrees. This was wonderfully light and fresh with a good amount of acidity and those wafer like pieces of licorice adding texture.youngguns (12)

Some pictures of the Young Guns and hosts. Zanellato’s brother Riccardo is all boyish charm; Matteo is sweet and softly spoken and Giovanni Pilu is quick to point out that he is already married ladies! (there’s A Tea with the Queen next to Signore Pilu). I ask Mitch if he’s considered an honorary Italian – “I’m pure Inner West” – he tells us. Alessandro is as effervescent as always. A really great evening – there are two more Young Guns dinners in the series.youngguns (14)youngguns (1)youngguns (13)

LuMi Dining, http://www.lumidining.com
Ormeggio, http://www.ormeggio.com.au
ACME, http://www.weareacme.com.au
Pilu, http://www.piluatfreshwater.com.au

Guillaume, Paddington

This is a French restaurant for grown-ups. You won’t see any maman’s urging their petite filles to eat their haricot verts here. Guillaume Brahimi may have lost his iconic Opera House home, but he’s moved into a bijou little terrace in Paddington, with its plush carpets, thick white table cloths, and quietly gliding waiters.

We’re here with some good friends and decide to splurge on the degustation menu.   The dishes range from just good to knock-it-out-of-the-park and we come away happy and sated. I will be back, but next time will quite happily do a la’ carte – I have my eye on the duck.  The service was excellent from the moment we arrived till the moment we left – they even held open the doors of our taxi for us. Given plenty of decadent ingredients and the intimacy of the setting its an ideal place for a special occasion dinner. Personally I thought it was better than the original venue all round.

My photos aren’t the best – bring back daylight savings!

We start with an amuse bouche of salmon with lemon, fennel and wasabi. Tangy, fresh, flavoursome.

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The first course of the degustation is the scampi, but we ask if they wouldn’t mind giving two of us the tuna from the a la’ carte menu, and two of us the scampi so we can try both. They kindly oblige. And I’m so glad about that because the yellowfin tuna is one of the knock out dishes, no surprise it’s a signature.guilluame (2)

The scampi with cucumber, chili, croutons, peach, shiso & Ocean Trout Roe.  The scampi are beautiful but I find the dish sweetened too much by the peach.guilluame (1b)

Royale of Peas with truffle and mud crab – creamy and decadent.  Love the Mother of Pearl spoon!guilluame (3)

Marron with pork cheek, radish, cauliflower, sea sprayguilluame (4)

Patagonian toothfish, peas, onion confit, speck, chicken jus, béarnaise.  I adored this dish, loveliest fish dish I’ve had in a long time….guilluame (5)

….and even better with a dollop of bernaise on top!guilluame (6)

Oxtail with carrot, bone marrow, parsley guilluame (7)

Melt in the mouth wagyu and silky mash
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Meanwhile, Marito Vegacquarian has a pasta dish followed by a luxurious lobster risotto.  We informed them of his dietary situation at the time of booking and checked in one of the lovely staff on the night.  “Don’t you mean Pescatarian?” she says.  “No, I think Vegacquarian works”.  “Yes, yours is better, I’m going with it”.guilluame (8)

Our “pre-dessert” – mango with lychee and coconut – such a feather light cream combined with two of my favourite fruits.  Would have loved a big bowl of this. guilluame (10)

The main dessert is passionfruit soufflé crème anglaise, passionfruit and banana sorbet.  I’m not a soufflé chick, so can’t really opine here, but I would have happily taken a big bowl full of that crème anglaise. guilluame (11)

And in that lovely touch also seen at Vue De Monde, you get a goody bag to take home. Ooh la la! Its a lovely brioche and jam for breakfast.  One of my little men, who has a discerning palate, spread some of the jam on his toasted home made bread the next day.  “Is this professionally made”, he queried, “its much better than what we usually get”.  The cheek.guilluame (12)

The restaurant also offers a private dining room that can accommodate up to 14 people.

Guillaume, 92 Hargrave St, Paddington Ph 02 9302 5222
http://www.guillaumes.com.au/

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LuMi Bar and Dining, Pyrmont

With a name like Federico Zanellato you couldn’t be anything other than Italian. But don’t go to LuMi, Pyrmont’s new waterside diner, expecting Fede’s take on Nonna Rosaria’s gnocchi or Zia Maria’s tiramisu. Having worked in some fine dining establishments in Italy and throughout Europe, followed by Japan and most recently as head chef at hatted Ormeggio, Australia is now his adopted home – how fortunate for us. He realised our multicultural and food adventurous society would be willing to explore a fusion of Italian and Japanese, which on the face of it sounds a little worrisome. But any concerns are completely unfounded. He pulls it off. Beautifully.

Dinner is an eight course degustation for $95. Waterside, with nicely spaced tables, lovely crockery, and handsomely plated food, it is well worth it. In the style of Momofuku, the chefs deliver the plates to you and talk you through the course, which sound so much better accented with Italian (Zanellato’s brother is also in the kitchen, and his wife on the floor). And we both agree we’d rather come here than Momofuku across the road, which is double the price, any day of the week.

First up is a plate of “snacks”: a cheese tartlet with corn and parmigiano; salt and vinegar rice chips; and a potato and rosemary focaccia, the last probably being the closest thing you’ll find resembling traditional Italian. I enjoy them all, and the interesting flavours and textures make you look forward to what’s coming.

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Chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard, in a savoury style with tomato water. Texturally perfect custard with a tomato accent, I love it.

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White cucumber with apple and sour cream. So pretty on the plate and a refreshing dish.

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Veal tartare with tarragon mayo roasted capsicum, buckwheat.  This is the only one that didn’t do it for me (and normally I love a good tartare) but just a personal flavour preference, my partner in crime thought it was great.

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The fragrance as each of the pasta dishes hits the table is incredible. Our first pasta course is spelt ravioli with burnt butter, pumpkin, Avruga caviar, and chives. Its a rich dish so just the right size.

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Our second pasta dish is spaghetti alla chitarra with orange buerre blanc, bottarga, and scampi. “Alla chitarra” refers to how the pasta is made, a stringed contraption that looks like a guitar (chitarra).

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We adore the Pork Jowl with, Celeriac, Quinoa, hidden under a layer of spinach. It’s a knockout dish and one of the stars of the night.

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The “Evergreen” pre dessert – Sorrel,Lemon Basil, Mint, Shiso, parsley – is like walking in to a delicious cold pressed juice bar, imparting a feeling of good health.LuMi (11)

Zanellato generously sends over an extra dish, his take on strawberries and cream – strawberry granita with whipped cream and ice cream. It’s a good lead in to dessert.LuMi (12)

To finish is a ginger ice cream, white chocolate, passionfruit, yoghurt crumble. Its thankfully not too sweet and the crumble gives it texture. LuMi (13)

I doubt I’m making a big call when I say there’ll be a hat or two coming LuMi’s way in the next Good Food Guide line up. The phones will start ringing like crazy when then happens, so go discover it before then.

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LuMi Dining, 56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, (02) 9571 1999
http://www.lumidining.com

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