Lunch @ Sixpenny (Sydney, Australia)

September 9, 2020 in Australian, European

Was chit chatting with my colleagues when our conversation shifted to food. And they were raving of their respective meals at Sixpenny. So it was only natural that I quickly made reservation for a weekend lunch. And 2 days before my meal, I received a text message reminding me of my reservation and asking for my dietary restriction.

The restaurant was a short 5 to 8 minutes walk from Stanmore station. And as I opened the entrance door, I immediately stepped into the main dining area. It being a pretty small space, there was no reception counter or waiting area. It was an awkward 5 seconds (although it felt like a good long minute) as I stood there alone, unsure who to speak to.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

Upon seated, I was told there wasn’t any physical menu at Sixpenny. The staff continued to mention there would be 5 savoury dishes and 2 desserts, with 2 add-on options; Oyster & dry-aged duck. I went with the latter only. And I commenced my lunch course, AUD175 with:-


1) Snacks, Complimentary (above) – Multi grain cracker with dried tomato and parmesan cream, and pai tee with tuna tartare.

  

2) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Sourdough bread with mascarpone butter.


3) Savoury #1 (above) – Cured coral trout with white peach, horseradish and kholrabi. And when the dish was placed in front of me, I thought the top layer was jelly. But no, it was actually fish! Placed like a disc over cubed vegetable and fruit. Wow.

4) Savoury #2 (above) – Kangaroo tartare, sweet potato crisp and dried cheese.

5) Savoury #3 (above) – Poached squid from Spencer Gulf with sweet peas and tomatillo (green tomato) broth.

6) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Yesterday’s sourdough. Was told the leftover dough was dried, powdered, mixed with new dough and coffee powder, and then (re)baked. And this tasted more sour than the first bread, which I actually preferred! So nice!

7) Savoury #4 (above) – Bass grouper from New Zealand with spinach, champagne butter sauce and cauliflower purée.


  

8) Dry aged duck, AUD30 (above) – So glad I ordered this an additional a-la carte dish. Amazing, amazing, amazing! The smoked duck breast was very aromatic and its texture was great. I was also told the cherry-braised beetroot was treated for 8 to 9 hours. So much hard work to produce this amazing dish! Loved this dish, lots. Was also surprised to see 2 other duck dishes served alongside the duck breast. Liver parfait with cherry and mustard jelly, and duck heart. Duck heart? Like what!?! I was impressed!


  

9) Savoury #5 (above) – Dry aged Borrowdale pork loin, mushroom and marsala demi-glace. This was a real stunner. From the looks to the taste. Pure perfection.

10) Dessert #1 (above) – Strawberry consommé, frozen strawberry and mead vinegar custard. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the dish introduction, I thought there might be frozen pomegranate too. I saw pictures of this prior to my visit and was hoping it would be on the menu when I came. And I was so glad it was because it was so good. A beautiful balance of sweet and sour.

11) Dessert #2 (above) – Red Anjou pear ice cream with toasted milk, caramelised white chocolate and warm salted dark chocolate sauce.

I enjoyed myself immensely at Sixpenny. There’s no doubt about the food. It was executed beautifully. It’s hard to pick a favourite cause every dish was so good.

And the thing about dining solo was that I had lots of time to observe my surrounding. And I thought Sixpenny had a pretty interesting way with their table arrangement. Instead of sitting opposite each other, customers in pairs sat beside each other to face the centre of the dining space. So it was almost like we were all eating together at one big dining table. Though I did find it odd that for a fine-dining establishment, we weren’t given stools to put our handbags on. Most ladies placed theirs on the floor while I hanged mine on my chair.

Would I recommend Sixpenny? A big yes. Definitely deserving of their 3 hats by Good Food Guide (2020).

SIXPENNY
83 Percival Road, Stanmore, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9572 6666, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Sat – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Wed – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tues

Lunch @ LuMi Dining (Sydney, Australia)

September 5, 2020 in Italian, Italian Japanese

So after my arrival in Sydney for my overseas work stint, my first fine dining meal was at LuMi Dining which had 2 hats in the Good Food Guide (2020). Why LuMi Dining? Well… I guess I was attracted by the water views it offered. Keke.

As I made my way to the restaurant on the day of my lunch, I was surprised to see where LuMi Dining was located in. I was expecting the restaurant to occupy a ground floor unit of a building based on pictures of its interior. But it was located in a standalone container perched on the wharf. Okie, it’s probably not a container. That’s the engineer in me talking with my construction language of my first impression. Others called it a modern glass structure or a lightbox. I guess I walked towards the restaurant from the wrong side.

So yes, the exterior and the interior were very different. It may look dull on the outside, but it was beautifully furnished on the inside. I came for the view and was greeted with a perfect view of water and yachts. Even the light reflected off the water looked like sparkling diamonds!

As I took my seat, the staff asked if it was my first time at LuMi Dining. I nodded. And she went on to explain the menu. Now… When I was made my reservation, I made my selection for the chef’s menu. But there was options to have add-ons. I decided against ordering additional oysters. Instead, I went with the pasta dish with additional truffle. Uh huh. Add-on on top of add-on. Haha.

And with that, I commenced my lunch (chef’s menu, AUD185) with:-


  
  

1) Tuna, tart, Italian gunkan, buckwheat, taco (above) – Started my lunch with assorted snacks which I was told would keep coming one after another. And indeed, it came non-stop. Although I finished my first and was struggling to finish taking picture of the second, the staff placed the fifth snack on my table. Oh my god. Snacks included tuna tartare with shisho leaf which was meant to be eaten like a sandwich, pumpkin tart with glazed pumpkin seeds, Italian gunkan, bckwheat gougère with casera cheese within, and taco with fish tartare and chives. The snacks were amazing. The Italian gunkan, or what one could call an Italian sushi, was sea urchin topped on koshihikari rice and with stracciatella cheese within. But my favourite was the pumpkin tart.


2) Pie (above) – Served with thick chicken sauce gravy on the side. And for the pie, I was only given a knife. Wasn’t sure why but I requested for a fork. It was only later through observing others that I realised one was to slice the pie and pick it up with one’s fingers. Well, I’m eating it the ladylike way. Hahaha. But! I also realised the pie was meant to be shared by the table. I polished the entire pie by myself. Gasp.


3) Red emperor (above) – Red emperor sashimi with kiwi, dashi jelly, herb oil and buffalo cheese. Loved this!


4) Asparagus (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) with white asparagus, caviar and yuzu dressing. And the texture of the steamed egg was very light on the palette. Almost similar to silken tofu!

5) Agnolotti (above) – Served in (clear) mushroom dashi broth. I would normally bite into the ravioli to snap a photograph of the the filling. But I couldn’t because it was liquid within the ravioli. Really interesting! The filling was akin to thick, creamy mushroom soup. Really tasty!


6) Pici scarlet prawns globe artichoke & sesame, AUD22 (+ AUD28, black truffle) (above) – Got this as an add-on to my set menu. Served very al dente, I didn’t really like the noodle texture. I also didn’t like the white sesame seeds. And I felt the truffle did nothing for the dish. This unfortunately didn’t work for me.


7) Murray cod (above)


  

8) Pork (above) – The skin was pretty black, but this was so good! Although the cabbage could do with less butter. I spied other tables and realised their strips were like 25% thicker. But all’s good though. I most likely couldn’t finish a thicker strip than what was served because I was feeling pretty full from finishing an entire pie earlier.

9) White chocolate & sudachi (above) – The sudachi was like a frozen yogurt. And I liked that it was citrus flavoured. A very interesting (form of) palette cleanser.

10) Buffalo (above) – Coffee-infused cream, and popcorn with kombucha.

11) Frangipane (above) – And this was actually a (halved) tart.

There were 3 waiting staff attending to customers on the day of my lunch. One was exceptional. But I was particularly annoyed at another who introduced the dishes by standing behind me, rattled on like a machine gun, and ended his dish introduction immediately with a “welcome”. Ain’t sure if it’s just me that’s picky, but the difference in the service standards stood out when Mr Poor Performing was compared against Ms Exceptional.

Nonetheless, I had an enjoyable meal at LuMi Dining. My meal came up to a total of AUD213. I left the restaurant feeling really full. And was slightly surprised that my lunch lasted 3 hours!

LUMI BAR AND DINING
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9571 1999, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Fri – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Tue

Dinner @ Nel Restaurant (Sydney, Australia)

August 30, 2020 in Australian, European

I was doing my usual surfing on instagram when I came across the post by Nel Restaurant with the caption ‘It’s back! The second chapter of once upon a time returns from 4 August. Urban List Sydney has said it might just be the happiest degustation on earth. And don’t we all need a bit of happiness this year.’

Interested, I did some research and realised the Disney-inspired menu was first launched last year. No wonder this year’s menu had a ‘Chapter 2′ in it! I guess one could say this year’s is like a sequel to last year’s!

It was definitely a “wow” moment to arrive at the restaurant and be welcomed by the gorgeous, magical entrance. Located in the basement, I honestly thought it was an ingenious idea that they dolled up the staircase landing just behind the entrance door, before one headed down to the main dining area. Coloured lights were used to create a purple-blue hue. And it was definitely an artistic touch with the overhanging branch because it resulted in a silhouette on the full-height entrance glazing from the backlight.

As I entered through the entrance and went down the stairs, a staff greeted me and checked my reservation details. But I was slightly embarrassed shy when the staff led me to my table. “Front row seat”, the staff said. I definitely appreciated the thought that went into the assigning of my table. I could tell that they equally welcomed solo diners just by the restaurant’s mere gesture of not tucking me away at a corner table. Thank you!

After settling down, the staff gave me a quick introduction of the degustation menu. I opted to order my wine by the glass instead of going for the pairing, and went with the additional caviar for my fish dish. And shortly after, I commenced my ‘Once Upon a Time – Chapter 2′ menu, AUD135 with:-


  

1) Eat me (above) – Alice in Wonderland. The staff elaborated the dish was inspired when Alice went down the rabbit hole. But in place of many potions, the kitchen have popping candy within the snack instead. Cool! On the cookie/biscuit were the words ‘eat me’ although only the ‘me’ was readable. And within the cookie was filling made with parmesan cheese, chive, finger lime and… Just a little popping candy.


2) Dragon fire (above) – Mulan (and her fire dragon). This dish came with the charcoal lit, but the fire died once it was placed on my table. I noticed the staff would torch the charcoal at the kitchen. Maybe they should consider lighting the charcoal only at the customer’s table? But no surprise that the pork-chicken dumpling was a hot dish. Served alongside a lime dipping sauce.


3) Runaway to the circus (above) – Dumbo. Deboned chicken wing on a bed of peanuts, in a Dumbo cup.


4) You shall go the ball (above) – Cinderella. Pumpkin brioche served in a pumpkin! “Here you go, Cinderella”, the waiter said as he placed the huge pumpkin onto the table before removing the lid to reveal the bread within. And I liked that bread was still warm.

5) Bambi + Thumper (above) – Bambi. Venison carpaccio served with, mushroom, sorrel, fried forest leaves and rabbit croquette.


6) Steal from the rich, give to the poor (above) – Robin Hood. This was really cool. The staff poured the mushroom broth into the bowl of alfalfa sprouts, potato, onion and golden jelly. Oh yes. Golden jelly. Not sure what it was exactly, but the jelly melted upon contact with the warm broth, and the broth became this really gold-shimmery soup.

7) Just keep swimming (above) – Finding Dory. Pan-fried John dory with fennel and soy protein foam (to look like ocean). And of course, a spoonful of caviar (additional AUD18)!

8) Donald a paris comprised of:

  

(A) Part 1 (above) – Donald Duck. The staff humourously said “Although it’s served on a foot, it’s meant to be a finger food.” And I enjoyed the ball of duck confit.

(B) Part 2 (above) – Was told that the duck was dry aged for 7 days before it’s roasted and pan-seared. Served with potato galette, carrot and duck broth. This was really good.


9) Melted snowman (above) – Frozen. Black garlic ice cream and rum baba beneath yogurt, topped with a carrot nose and iced eyes. How cute! And really good too.


11) Roses are red, beasts are blue (above) – Beauty & the Beast. Rose lychee cake with dried rose petals. And for a dramatic effect, the rose petals with dry ice were dropped from a height. And I must say… It was a tad too dramatic. Normally, most would drop these from the customer’s eye level. But the really tall waiter dropped it from at least his chest level. So when these hit my plate, some bounced off and landed onto the table… And yes, on me too. But that aside, this was a really good dessert.


12) Imagination (above) – Peter Pan. Blueberry cheese custard tart.

It was definitely a fun meal! And the restaurant helped to set the mood by playing the various Disney movies’ theme songs. Which got customers to hum and even sing along to the chorus. I didn’t recognise all of the songs though. Maybe it’s time to get Disney Plus to re-familarise myself with all my childhood movies? Keke.

  

Bill was presented in yet another book. “Final chapter”, the staff said. How cute. And yes, we were also given a sachet of Australian grown tea leaves (daintree black tea, strawberry gum, lemon myrtle and wattleseed)!

Would I recommend Nel Restaurant? Oh yes, I would. But do note that the ‘Once Upon a Time – Chapter 2′ meny is only offered from 4 August to 7 November before chef-owner Nelly Robinson updates the menu! Apparently the restaurant does these themed menu, with the theme changing every 10 weeks.

NEL RESTAURANT
75 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9212 2206, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 17:15 – 21:30
Ambience: 8
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Sun
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.