November 2, 2010

Sepia Restaurant & Bar, Sydney

I apologize that there's no pictures because I'm not a seasoned food blogger so I'd feel a bit daft if I was waving a camera around in a restaurant that had little lighting
So here is a month-late post on my trip to a SMH Good Food Guide 2011 2Hat winner. It's located in Darling Park and Chef of the Year Martin Benn heads the kitchen. Can you guess what it is?

We decided to try it out after chef Martin Benn won the Emirates Chef of the Year 2011. You don’t really notice the outside because it’s right next to the Nestle building and the sofas that people sit on inside, are quite tall so it blocks what you can see and the SEPIA sign is small and high up as well so you don’t notice it!

We (obviously) ordered the degustation menu and about 15 minutes later the first course came out and then each course came out anywhere between 30 minutes to 45 minutes after each other. It gave time to digest! Because otherwise we would be so full after 3 courses!

Amuse Bouche: Beetroot with Yuzu Espuma, Sprouting Lentils
The yuzu espuma was wonderfully light and fresh. Now, yuzu is a citrus fruit from Japan and its taste is somewhat in between grapefruit and mandarin. Espuma is a kind of foam, developed by genius Ferran Adrià, that’s made from a gel being put into a N2O canister. So in simple English, yuzu foam. Small sprouting lentils were used to garnish the amuse bouche.

Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare, Warm Dashi Custard, Soy and Wasabi Jelly, “Popped Pork” and Nori Salt, Wild Green Elk
Usually I don’t like warm savoury custards but this is one exception! The warm dashi custard had an almost tofu-like consistency and was really rather nice. The yellow fin tuna tartare was spectacular. Popped pork was so nice! Little sprigs of wild green elk add a little bit of fresh bitterness to it

Poached Port Lincoln Squid, Apple, Bison Grass Vodka, Pancetta, Toasted Barley and Amaranth Grains
The poached Port Lincoln squid was quite jelly-ish, it had a texture that was kind of what you would expect jellyfish to be like. It was translucent and tasted that way; plain. The apple and Bison Grass vodka didn’t have a prominent role in the tasting department. My favorite: salted pancetta. It was diced and toasted barley and amaranth grains added. It was a whole plate of soft-crunchy-soft-crunchy. A bit too salty though...

Queensland Spanner Crab and Buckwheat Risotto, Mustard Butter, Shellfish Essence
No. Just no. I used to be meh about risotto but this just killed it. I couldn’t taste the spanner crab, all I could taste was the mustard butter and the shellfish essence. You know how risotto should be creamy and almost porridge-like? This was like as if the porridge liquid had separated and someone add soft buckwheat cocopops. I don’t even know if that makes sense. It was kinda like shrimp paste with milk that was stewed… No.

Butter Poached Murray Cod, Baby Radish, Japanese Daikon, Tonburi, Crystallised Wakame, Bill Pollen Butter Dashi
The butter poached Murray cod was soft and kind of fell apart when you stuck your fork into it. There was also a little kind of salad (?) made from the radish, daikon, tonburi and dashi to accompany the cod.

Roasted Loin of Victorian Lamb, Crisp Belly, Basil Puree, Pickled Walnuts and Olive Crumbs
The Victorian lamb was in a roll on a smear of basil puree with a slice of crisp belly and pickled walnuts and olive crumbs on the side. The lamb was medium-rare and a bit sweet and the crisp belly was just like bacon! Mmmm… It was so nice!

Sansho Roasted Pasture Fed Angus Tenderloin, Braised Short Rib, Buffalo Milk “Tofu”, Roasted Quinoa, Garlic Flowers
Of course being angus tenderloin that was pasture fed, it was beautiful by itself already. The braised short rib on the other hand though, could've been done as a separate dish but it had the help of the “tofu”, quinoa and garlic flowers. By itself, it had too much of a stewed beef taste.

Pre Dessert: Saffron Brulee, Sweet Corn, Ginger Beer Foam
Although small, this was possibly the absolute BEST dish of the entire meal! The saffron brulee was slightly sweet and eggy as well. The layer of sweet corn on top levels off the sweetness, even though the corn was "sweet". And last but not least, it’s finished with a ginger beer foam, which I love! This is something I'm definitely going to try and make in the future.

“Chocolate Forest”: Soft Chocolate, Lavender Cream, Sour Cherry Sorbet, Liquorice
This was wrong AND right. The liquorice, dehydrated chocolate and spices were a bit overpowering. A bit too much cinnamon methinks. But on the other hand, the quenelle of sour cherry sorbet was beautiful. It was refreshingly cold, sweet and sour! I’m pretty sure it was made fresh because it is not fully set like if you were to buy it in those giant tubs in the supermarket. It neatly placed on something that I can compare to as a pedestal made of chocolate! Well ok, it was more of a plate of chocolate on some lavender cream on another plate of chocolate. But the "pedestal" is more fitting.

Petit Fours: Raspberry Jellies, Pistachio Macarons
The raspberry jellies came in a 2x2x2cm red cube. It was quite sweet and its taste was leaning more towards raspberry jam (which I might add, is NOT good to eat plain!) The pistachio macarons were cute because they were tiny and were a sea green colour with gold flecks! Image that! PLUS, it was about the size of the topmost joint in your thumb

Degustation menu must be ordered by the whole table and is only $130 per person.
Sepia Restaurant & Bar
Darling Park 201 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Sepia on Urbanspoon

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