Dinner @ Bentley Restaurant + Bar (Sydney, Australia)

August 11, 2020 in Australian by thywhaleliciousfay

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.

Dinner @ Ester (Sydney, Australia)

July 22, 2020 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

The thing about me is that when I am dining at an eatery, I prefer to go for the regular menu as opposed to an one-off menu created for a special occasion. Say… Mother’s Day. But when most restaurants reopened after the easement of lockdown, most had their menu revamped. And Ester was one of them. Not sure if it’s a permanent change though.

So… Before COVID-19, Ester had 2 menus (tasting menu and a very extensive a-la carte menu) for customers to choose from. And while 2 menus were still offered when they reopened. The difference was that all diners had to order the AUD98 tasting menu. And of course, the dishes offered on the a-la carte menu was noticeably fewer. Uh huh, I googled it up.

When I tried making my reservation, I wasn’t able to as the system required a minimum of 2 people. But, but… I planned to go as a solo diner. So I dropped Ester an email and was glad when they replied saying they could accommodate by arranging a counter seat. And I was really excited for my dinner. Customers were posting picture of Ester’s potato pasta dish. A dish that I seriously wanted to try.

For my dinner, I was in the 1st seating (6.30pm) with a 2-hours seating period. Unfortunately, I arrived late at 6.45pm. Boohoo. Once seated, I was shown the tasting menu, a la carte menu and pairing menu. I decided to go easy on my stomach and not order any extras from the a-la carte menu. And I commenced my dinner (tasting menu, AUD98) with:-:-

1) Potato bread (above) – With dashi jelly, kefir cream and salmon roe. I have the habit of tearing my bread. And as I attempted doing that, it felt like there was stuffing within. But there wasn’t. It’s crazy amazing that the bread texture within was dense but soft and chewy. Really good.

2) Roasted rock oyster (above) – With pepperberry and sake.


3) Squid ink dumplings (above) – This was so good. I bit through the crispy exterior, through the thick chewy dumpling skin which texture was so similar to mochi, and finally into a savoury filling. But I couldn’t put a finger to the filling. It was black, and it certainly didn’t helped that the restaurant was dimly lit too. It’s only later that I realised it’s a mixture of pork and cuttlefish.


4) Blood sausage sanga (above) – It’s interesting that the bread texture was very similar to steamed bread. It might even be? Shrug. But it was soft and chewy. It even stuck to the top of my mouth. I enjoyed this dish by folding the bread and having it like a hot dog. So while it was nice, I thought the ratio of bread to blood sausage was a bit off. Couldn’t help but feel slightly shortchanged.


5) King prawns (above) – With fermented shrimp paste butter. This was beautifully grilled with its centre slightly opaque. And I love everything about this dish. The sweetness of the succulent flesh was brought out by the slightly salty brown butter-tamari sauce and crispy fried capers.


  

6) Grilled snapper (above) – As I indicated my dietary restriction of no beef, the grilled wagyu steak was replaced with grilled snapper. And to go with the protein was greens with pepita pralin and green goodness dressing. I paid a little more attention to the greens because before my meal, my colleague told me to share my opinion of it with him. And I have to say, there’s something special about that dressing. I kept going at my greens. I also liked that Ester’s version of greens had honey-coated seeds & puffer rice.

7) Mandarin sorbet, AUD6 (above) – Yuzu shu.

8) Burnt pavlova (above) – Bitters, lemon

9) Left over sourdough ice cream (above) – My colleagues were raving about this dessert, so I was really looking forward to it. But, I didn’t like it. There were just too much of the burnt sourdough. It just tasted… Burnt? It’s as though the dish lost its balance. And haha! I’m learning to use the word ‘balance’. Aftereffects of watching Masterchef Australia: Back to Win 20202 season! Keke.

I definitely enjoyed my meal at Ester although it was a little rushed. But I guess I only have myself to blame cause I was late by 15 minutes. But I was really disappointed when I realised potato pasta was not on the tasting menu when I came for my dinner.

Would I recommend Ester? Yes! Especially if one’s into wood-fired cooking. In fact, I am stalking Ester’s instagram page. I am hoping the potato pasta dish would be back on their tasting or a-la carte menus when life returns to normalcy so that I could quickly book my next meal. Keke. And I know… I seem to be going on and on about this potato pasta dish that I haven’t had, yet. Although I wonder if it’s one of the very few dishes that doesn’t come out of Ester’s wood-fired oven. Hmm…

And yes! Ester is also listed in Good Food Guide (2020) with 2 hats.

ESTER
46-52 Meagher Street, Chippendale, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 8068 8279, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Ambience: 7
Sat – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.

Lunch @ Tetsuya’s (Sydney, Australia)

July 7, 2020 in Australian, French by thywhaleliciousfay

Because I was going to be in Sydney for 2 years for my overseas (work) stint, I decided not to be (too) aggressive in checking out the dining scene in Sydney. I guess one could say I was also trying to go easy on my waistline and purse when I self-imposed the ’1 atas splurge meal per month’ rule. But!!! Who would have known dining out was actually an activity most have taken for granted. :(

When COVID-19 restrictions were eased and dining at restaurants was allowed, I made reservation at Tetsuya’s for a Sunday lunch.

There were 2 seating areas. And I liked how the seating areas were built around Tetsuya’s on-site garden such that everyone had access to the view of the Japanese garden. Although I also overheard 1.5 to 2 months of advanced reservation was required for a window table.

Tetsuya’s had a wine-pairing course to go with the degustation menu, but I decided to go by the glass instead. And after taking my drinks order, I commenced my 8-courses degustation lunch, AUD250 with:-

1) Oysters, AUD15 (above) – From Tasmania, served with ginger & rice wine vinaigrette.


2) Dish #1 (above) – Sashimi of Hiramasa kingfish with sesame leaf and daikon. So good!


3) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Organic sourdough and kombu scroll, served with truffle butter. And the pastry of the scroll was buttery and flaky. Almost similar to that of a croissant.


4) Dish #2 (above) – NZ scampi tails with vanilla and lemon zest. And I loved the attention to the small details. The flesh was detached from the shell till the tail for ease of consumption. And I noticed the kitchen also drizzled dressing onto the shell such that not just the top side but also the bottom/non-exposed side of the scampi flesh was seasoned. This dish made me realise this was truly fine dining at its best. Loved it!


5) Dish #3 (above) – Confit of Tasmanian ocean trout with salad of apple and witlof.

6) Deep-fried golden mushroom with roasted mushroom broth, Complimentary (above) – Got a surprise when the waiting staff came up to me and said “Chef arranged an additional dish. Our chef likes to spoil single diners if you don’t mind.” Oh my god! Was definitely not expecting that.

7) Dish #4 (above) – Patagonian toothfish with cannellini beans and TAS black truffle.

8) Dish #5 (above) – Snowy mountains squab with charred onion broth and enoki.


9) Dish #6 (above) – And because I don’t take beef, they replaced it with spatchcock. Paired with shiitake mushroom and char-grilled red cabbage.


10) Palate cleanser (above) – Yuzu, chartreuse, apple.


11) Dish #7 (above) – Chocolate stone with honey and milk. I tried different renditions of ‘pebble dessert’ at various restaurants, and this certainly impressed. I wasn’t expecting the ‘pebble’ to be so complicated! Loved it!

12) Petit fours (above)

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

I left Tetusya’s very happy and I highly recommend one to check them out in Sydney. Food was great, but the service was better! When I was looking at the drinks menu before my meal started, I had shortlisted 2 whites that I wanted to try. And when I was still on my first, the sommelier came up and generously poured me a glass of rose to go with my ocean trout. And I really appreciated it because the white that I was having tasted quite weird with the trout! And when I was onto my second glass of white, I was touched when the sommelier (yes! again!) poured me a glass of shiraz (that’s specially made for Tetsuya’s) because he really wanted me to try it with my main. I mean, 1 glass on the house is already much appreciated. But 2? Wow.

Now… In my recent bid to know my wines better, these days I would request to take picture of the wine bottles. And when I was taking picture of the third wine bottle, the sommelier was holding it in his hands. Though that’s actually because I had too many glasses on my table and there was no space for him to place the bottle beside the (original) glass. As I was taking the picture, he asked “do you want it on the table?” How cute! And I really appreciated it because that simple gesture was an example of how Tetsuya’s waiting staff understands and tries to anticipate the different requirements of their customers.

If it wasn’t for my secondment, I would have missed out on a great meal because I didn’t visit Tetsuya’s when I was holidaying in Sydney back in 2017. But! I didn’t then because I wanted to dine at restaurants which served Australian cuisine. But yes! Tetsuya’s is worth visiting for its Japanese-French cuisine. To be exact… As taken from their website, Tetsuya’s degustation is based on the Japanese philosophy of using natural seasonal flavours, enhanced by classic French technique and utilising the freshest possible ingredients.

Would I recommend Tetsuya’s. A big yes. I am definitely making a return trip. In fact, I am thinking Tetsuya’s should be given 3 hats by Good Food Guide (2020) instead of 2 hats.

TETSUYA’S
529 Kent Street, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9267 2900, Website
Overall: 9
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 9
Tues – Fri : 17:30 – 21:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Sat : 18:30 – 21:00 (Dinner)
Service: 10
 
* Closed on Mon & Sun