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

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.

Dinner @ Bentley Restaurant + Bar (Sydney, Australia)

August 11, 2020 in Australian, European

After the easement of (COVID-19) lockdown, I made a pact to myself to eat my way through the Good Food Guide (2020). I mean, I was. But it’s slightly different this time round cause I told myself to check out at least 1 restaurant every 2 weeks! One could say I’m supporting local business, or that I was afraid a second wave would prevent me from dining out. Just being honest…

After Tetsuya’s and Ester, I was off next to Bentley (with 2 hats). And with 2 seatings at 6ish-pm and 8ish-pm, I made reservation for 6.30pm. The 2 hours dining time didn’t deter me because I knew that’s more than enough (time) for me. Especially as a solo diner.

When I arrived at the restaurant for my dinner, my first thought was that the place was so dark! The small table light honestly didn’t do much. Wished they could turn up the room light by a notch. Hmm… A-la carte menu was only offered from Monday to Thursday. And since I was dining on a Saturday evening, I had the tasting menu which was also a 5-courses set menu. And with that, I commenced my tasting menu, AUD180 with:-

1) Sydney rock oyster, AUD5.50 each (above) – Having successfully overcome my phobia for oysters, it’s only natural to order the oysters especially when in Australia. And I ordered 2 because it’s damn odd sad to order just 1. Right? Hee.


2) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Glazed rye bread served with chickpea miso butter. And the bread was fluffy and stretchy. Although I didn’t like the (sticky) malt extract and treacle glaze.

3) Snack #1 (above) – Jerusalem artichoke + delice des cremiers.

4) Snack #2 (above) – Sea urchin custard + tomato broth.

5) Snack #3 (above) – Celeriac + truffle toast. And this was so good. It’s interesting too that the 2 cheese were served in different textures; Grated (dry) and piped (wet).

6) Snack #4 (above) – Smoked eel dumpling + lemon jam


7) Dish #1 (above) – Fremantle octopus + sunflower + lardo + Geraldton wax. And the octopus was executed really well. So, so tender.


  

8) Dish #2 (above) – Kangaroo + castelfranco + riberries. Served with a cup of onion and kangaroo broth, I was told to take a sip with every mouthful of the kangaroo tartare which was made with cured kangaroo loin.


9) Dish #3 (above) – Pork jowl + wattle seed + macadamia + sunrise lime. Evident from the picture that I took, the texture was amazing.


  

10) Dish #4 (above) And my beef main was replaced with cured kingfish ham with parsnip. And I initially thought I was served parsnips of 2 different colours (1 black, 1 yellow), but I was wrong. One was black because it was wrapped with seaweed. I was also given greens and curry rice. But I didn’t like the curry rice at all. I didn’t attempt to finish it. So it’s unfortunate that I didn’t enjoy my mains.


11) Palette cleanser (above) – Beetroot sorbet + dark chocolate + raspberry. And it’s a real pity that the restaurant was so dark. If it wasn’t because I borrowed the table lamp to shed some light for my photograph-taking, I wouldn’t have realised there’s actually 2 textures for the dessert.

12) Dish #5 (above) – Quince + fennel pollen + buttermilk + mandarin.

13) Petit fours (above)

14) Coffee, Complimentary (above) – And as always, I went with latte. Keke.

My dining experience at Bentley didn’t exactly “wow” me. It was good, but it didn’t have me reminiscing about it or raving about it after my visit. And I guess I was really bothered by how dark the place was. Notice how I am using the word ‘dark’ and not ‘dim’. Yeah, it was that dark.

Would I recommend Bentley? Well… I wouldn’t rule them out. Instead, if one is staying in Sydney, I say go and check them out. But if one is in Sydney for a limited time (like holiday), I would recommend checking out other restaurants instead. Unless one is in Sydney for a super long holiday and could schedule in 10 meals. :)

BENTLEY RESTAURANT + BAR
27 O’Connell Street, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 8214 0505, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Wed – Sat : 18:00 – 00:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon, Tues, Sun
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.