The Clove Club

TimmyC and I got cocky. We had only just arrived in London and we thought we had the Underground system worked out. Then we got off at the wrong stop which delayed us getting to our 7pm booking at The Clove Club. Between nerves of missing our booking and hunger, I told TimmyC that we should just get off at the closest stop we can and taxi the rest of the way there, I didn’t have time to change lines and then add a stroll in between to get there.

We arrived a tad late but all the scurrying was quickly forgotten after a doorman opened the door and we are happily greeted and seated, which closely followed by a hot towel to wipe away the city and to start our dinner.We were congratulated on our honeymoon by several servers who came to check on us, we had written it was a special occasion when we booked online months ago and it was nice that they remembered. They clarified again if we had any particular dislikes or allergies and we assured them we would try anything and everything. For an extra element of surprise, we opted not to have a menu on the table to keep us on our toes.

We asked if it was okay to set up a GoPro to take a time lapse of our entire meal and they didn’t have a problem. We conveniently had a little window sill to perch it on too.

We were all set up and ready to go!We really enjoyed our dinner but there were too many dishes to go through, so I’ll just comment on the exceptional ones that I adored or really surprised me.


Dining room (£110 pp) plus one soft pairing (£30.00 pp). A discretionary 12.5% service was also added to the final bill.

I was initially writing notes on my phone but the waitress informed me that we would get a menu at the end of the night so I wouldn’t have to. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the soft pairings listed and they didn’t have it on record so I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they were. It was a combination of tea and fruit and vegetable juice, one of which was served through a whipping siphon to make it ‘bubbly’. TimmyC and I agreed that the juice paired with the langoustine was sublime.TimmyC also ordered a G+T using a local gin called Sacred gin (£10.50).


-A Selection of Snacks to Start-

Beetroot gazpacho with walnut oil Mackerel on a spinach and parsley leafButtermilk fried chicken with pine salt – My oh my! Could this possibly be the best fried chicken I have ever eaten? It was moist and succulent while having a really crunchy exterior with the perfect amount of seasoning. I would have fought TimmyC for his piece if he didn’t finish his serve before I did. Apparently, you can also order this at the bar and it is a menu favourite.Warm haggis buns – This really surprised me as the name really put me off, but I rather enjoyed this. It reminded me a lot of a ‘ham sui gok’ as it had a somewhat crispy outer coating with a savoury filling.


Hay Smoked Trout Tartare, Jersey Royal Potato & Sansho (with a spoonful of Petrossian Caviar £15 Supplement). Sure, add approximately $25 AUD of caviar to one of my courses, I’m on holiday! You can’t go to London and not have fish and chips 😉 This didn’t have a ‘fishy’ taste at all because it was so fresh. I loved the texture contrast between the meaty fish, crunchy chips and trying to pop all the caviar in my mouth.Scottish Langoustine Tail, Charcoal Cream & Devilled Spices – We were a bit confused about how to eat this as there was no cutlery; our server said to pick it up, dip it and eat it. This was incredible as it looked very simple but the flavours were clean and sooooooo tasty. The sweet meat of the langoustine was complimented by the cream rather than drowning out the natural flavours. This was TimmyC’s favourite dish of the meal.Spring Herb & Smoked Herring Broth. This reminded me of an Asian fried fish ball in a broth with crunchy vegetables. It was lovely to receive bread and butter with a serve of smoked salt (not pictured) to add to our liking. I’m glad it was only a small portion as we had many more courses to get through. Hazelwood Grilled Pollock, Grelot Onion, Cinnamon & Curry LeafSlow Cooked Suckling Lamb, English Asparagus & Sleightlett

We were getting the details on how the lamb was prepared and where it was from etc.Just adding the finishing touches.Duck, Morel & Ginger Consommé and Hundred Year Old Madeira – I have eaten a lot of courses in my life (my hips don’t lie) but I have never had a liquid course, so I thought it was really interesting when the server came to our table with wine glasses and two bottles. We were given a nip of the 100 Year Old Madeira and it sure did warm the chest and clear the nostrils; it is incredible to think that it was aged for so long. We were then given more Madeira with a generous swig of duck consommé and it transferred the broth into a rich soup with lots of depth without the harsh alcoholic burn.100 Day Old Lincolnshire Chicken, Morels Broad Bean & Ramson


-Bonus course-

A selection of British cheeses (£10.00?). I didn’t catch what they were but man, that soft cheese on the right was very pungent and I could not finish it, although I didn’t mind it in small doses with the jelly. I particularly enjoyed the house made crackers.Burnt Clementine Sorbet & Spiced Meringue. I could not get enough of this; for someone that doesn’t have an overly sweet tooth, it was the perfect amount of sweetness and they were very generous with the meringue. It acted like a palette cleanser to ease you into the sweeter side of the menu. The dessert was served in a burnt clementine skin and not meant for eating.Yorkshire Rhubarb, Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt & Rose. I loved how incredibly crunchy and delicate the disc was. Don’t try and eat all the components separately (especially the tart rhubarb), have a little bit of everything in each bite and it is perfect.


-Petit fours-Wheat cakesDulce de leche truffle a decadent truffle with the world’s favourite filling.Digestive these were oh so delicate. TimmyC had his first and said the outer layer instantly melted away, leaving the liquid centre to ‘burst’ in his mouth. I then tried mine, I was in the middle of asking him how long does it take to burst when my eyes just widened. There it was!


The funniest thing happened as we were about to leave.

I had been watching Isaac McHale and his team doing their thing in the open kitchen and I thought to myself, do we even try and ask for a photo? Or when would even be an appropriate time? I decided we wouldn’t try and just to enjoy the meal.

I went to the bathroom for one last time before we had to go on a 45 minute trek back to the hotel, TimmyC waited for me at the bustling bar where one of the front of house staff was talking to Isaac. As I was putting on my millions of layers, the front of house woman asked if we were the couple who had set up a video of our whole meal and we started talking about how to exchange details so they could see the finished product.

I then asked if Isaac had enjoyed his time in Australia knowing he attended the awards in Melbourne and one thing lead to another and I asked for a photo with him. He said that the lighting was better in the kitchen and off we went. He shooed the other chefs away (lucky it was towards the end of service) and gave our camera to someone to take our photo. We talked more about our meal afterwards and he was just such a lovely down to earth guy.

Of course they would take our photo, but not without a selfie first! I love this photo haha.Just getting our photo with Isaac McHale in the kitchen of The Clove Club while the other chefs patiently wait to get back to work- no biggie (omg omg omg!)

 


-Overview-

Meal duration: 4 hours

Overall food and menu: I was impressed with the variety of protein in the menu and how locally sourced a lot of the ingredients were. No crazy theatrics here, just showing off UK and surrounding region’s finest produce.

My favourite: Somewhere between the Buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt or the Duck, Morel & Ginger Consommé and Hundred Year Old Madeira

TimmyC’s favourite: Scottish Langoustine Tail, Charcoal Cream & Devilled Spices

Toilets: I thought I’d give this a mention as it was really unusual to head down a really steep set of stairs (girls in heels beware), to an old school toilet complete with a chain lever.

Atmosphere: The restaurant had an unpretentious vibe and people were just there to have a good time with fantastic food while being able to still have a conversation as the dining room was intimate. Having the open kitchen allowed the diners to peer into all the workings of each dish.

Staff: It felt like we met the whole front of house as well as the chefs, as a different person introduced each dish. It was good to see the diversity among the staff and everyone’s knowledge on the menu was impeccable.

Venue: The Clove Club

Address: Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, London

World’s 50 Best ranking (2017): #26

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I was making fun of TimmyC that we were going to somewhere called ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ for lunch despite having booked months ahead. It wasn’t until I read the definition of the ‘dinner’ on the wall did I realise that maybe dinner didn’t mean what I thought it meant.Drinks~

Cider gimlet Calvados Domfrontais, acidulated butter, cider cordial ($24.00).Peter Pipe’s pickled lemon lemonade lemon juice, lemon brine, lemon sugar, soda ($14.00). My mouth is watering just thinking about this drink again. Man it was intensely lemony and tangy.Complimentary~

Bread and butter.Starters~

Meat Fruit mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread ($38.00). This was spectacular, visually and texturally. This seemed like the obvious choice for a photo but I really enjoyed tasting this even though I’m not a huge fan of pâté like objects. The mandarin gel covering was subtle and melted away almost at an instant when it hits the tongue. I was completely blown away by how creamy the pâté tasted and the airy light texture, which was a sharp contrast to the crunchy grilled bread.This is truly a work of art.Rice & Flesh saffron, curried kangaroo, red wine and amaranth ($38.00).Savoury Porridge garlic and parsley butter, grilled abalone, pickled beetroot and fennel ($36.00). The texture of the oats along with texture of the fennel reminded me of the snail porridge from Fat Duck. TimmyC said he thought that some of the elements of the dish seemed odd but when you put everything together, it all paired perfectly.Mains~

Slow Cooked Pork Belly Spelt, lardo, baby turnip & Robert sauce ($58.00). I have never had pork belly that was as white as the clouds that tasted like a Christmas ham. It was absolutely incredible. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my main, I leant over and helped myself to the pork belly.Chicken cooked with lettuces grilled onion emulsuion, oyster leaves and spiced parsnip sauce ($58.00).Specials~

David Blackmore Waygu (marbling score 9+ 200g) served with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips ($120.00 yes you read that right). I know what you’re thinking, if a ‘special’ is so special, why isn’t it on the menu? The only reason that it isn’t usually on the menu is because the steak isn’t always available so now that it was, I jumped at the chance!

I think there is nothing more sad than when a steak sits alone on a plate but seriously – this needed nothing else because it was perfect just the way it was. I didn’t even eat the mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips after tasting them (I hear you all gasping!). It was the nicest steak I’ve ever eaten; it was well seasoned but the meat itself was very flavoursome and it almost didn’t require chewing because it melted in your mouth. The only downside is that it has ruined me for other steak.That marbling- WOW!The triple cooked chips were really crunchy.Desserts~

Tipsy cake spit roast pineapple with a freshly baked brioche ($32.00). When the waiter was describing how the pineapple was prepared by spit roasting while being basted in an apple salted caramel sauce, I was sold! What really surprised me about the dessert was the amazing freshly made brioche; it completely blew me away. I spent a lot of my time sniffing its intoxicating scent, it reminded me of stepping into a bakery. The brioche is finished off with brandy and Sauternes cream which was like an amazing bread and butter pudding on another level. I would have this every day if I could.Want a bite?The beautiful pineapples slowly being spit roasted while being basted every now and then.Chocolate bar passionfruit jam and ginger ice cream ($30.00).The Lamington cake raspberry jam, toasted coconut, rum and vanilla ice cream ($30.00).A little something something~

Just when we thought the experience was about to end, we were given an extra little something sweet before we left. Chocolate ganache with carraway seed biscuit– the ganache was extremely soft and smooth and the biscuit was the perfect accompaniment because it offset the sweetness.We found the service to be very attentive, efficient and friendly. I wouldn’t wait for a special occasion, just come here and experience fantastic food.Venue: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Address: Crown Towers Melbourne, 130/8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC

Phone(03) 9292 5779

Websitewww.dinnerbyheston.com.au/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tetsuya’s rerun

I had the best time with other foodies at the Food Lovers Trivia Night for Oz Harvest; it is such a wonderful cause and another bonus was when TimmyC surprised me by winning the silent auction that allowed us to have a degustation at Tetsuya’s with matching wines.

We quickly decided that we would go for my birthday and we booked several weeks in advance. I love where Tetsuya’s is located, it is a very unassuming building amongst all the hustle and bustle of the city.We were seated near the window on the ground floor to overlook their beautiful peaceful garden. They were very accommodating when we explained that we don’t drink wine (I know, I’m such a waste TheFoodMarshall) and they suggested we could get the tea pairing.Tetsuya’s set degustation menu ($230 per person normally)

Complimentary bread and whipped truffle butter.Pacific oysters with ginger and rice vinegar. I remember when I had my first dressed oyster from Tetsuya’s, it was incredible and the same overwhelming feeling came across me as I had it 5 years later. The dressing enhances the flavour but you can definitely still taste the natural oyster. What a wonderful way to start the meal.Tuna with kohlrabi. It was a perfectly dressed tuna that was so super fresh, I wanted more than the three pieces given to me.Warm octopus salad with fennel & shiso oil. A simple salad with remarkably soft tender octopus.Confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple & unpasteurised ocean trout roe. This is Tetsuya’s signature dish, it is stunning visually and tastewise. I don’t want to describe it, I want you all go to and taste this for yourself. It has been on their menu for over twenty years and for a good reason!Grilled Shio Koji toothfish with fregola and roma tomatoes. I loved the texture of the toothfish as it reminded me a cross of mudcrab and scallops but without the sweetness.You could have easily mistaken it for scallop meat when you take a spoonful.Miso cured duck breast with pumpkin and cauliflower. This was well executed but I didn’t think it was anything special. It might sound pompous but I think it was because everything had been so great up until this point.Beef tenderloin with mushroom cream. I was hoping for a more flavoursome beef, it was very tender but I feel that the seafood items were much much better. Lychee granita with strawberries and coconut. A beautiful clean refreshing dessert with all my favourite fruits. I’m very tempted to make a variation of this at home for summer.Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake. This had the most beautiful mirror finish but I had to move TimmyC away from the table because no matter what angle I moved my camera, I could see his reflection on the cake. I was so impressed with the neat presentation of such a delicate dessert. The chocolate glaze encased a beautiful soft not OTT chocolate mousse, a real delight to eat.All gone!Petits Fours vanilla macaron dusted with bee pollen and a mango filling along side a perfectly delicate toffee chocolate with a biscuit base. Both made really well but the chocolate blew us away with the flavours and intricate detail.The discs were so delicate, so much effort for a little petit four.Tea pairing~

It was amazing to have a tea pairing with our degustation, I’ve never had one before. The teas varied from hot and cold and also carbonated.  Each tea was chosen especially to compliment the food from darker teas for meat courses and the most sweet-smelling concoction served with dessert. I loved it all (although as a result of so much tea, I did go to the bathroom a lot) but my favourite might have been the cocoa with matcha as I’ve never had anything like it.

Buddha’s tears brewed with spice and orange peel.

Single estate organic sencha green from Kyoto stirred with lime.

Gently infused darjeeling with thyme, rosemary and basil served chilled with bubbles.

Yunnan red from one of China’s most ancient tea growing regions.

Orange pekoe brewed with red fruits and vanilla pod.

West African red cocoa with soy milk and macha.
The staff were very attentive and very knowledgeable which always adds to a good experience. Our 4 hour lunch just flew by with incredible food, drink and company.

See my first experience with terrible photos here.

Venue: Tetsuya’s

Address: 529 Kent Street, Sydney 2000

Phone(02) 9267 2900

Noma Australia re-run

This title might seem a little odd as Noma Australia isn’t a place you usually get into once during their ten week pop up at Barangaroo, let alone twice (see my first post here).

I had said to TimmyC during my wedding speech that I didn’t know how he was going to top taking me to the Fat Duck when it was in Melbourne, but I hoped that he would try and here I am. I know I am a very lucky girl when there were supposedly 27,000 people on a wait list.

The menu was mainly unchanged since our last visit, although they had incorporated the avocado as another course into the degustation and there wasn’t any foraged blackberries this time. Overall, the consistency between visits was pretty high.

This time we went for lunch, I was hoping to get better photos with the natural light.

An overall glance at the entire 13 course degustation menu ($493 per person including credit card costs).Unripe macadamia and spanner crab the juice of a spanner crab, green macadamia nuts with rose oil.Wild seasonal berries flavoured with gubinge bowl of berries (lilli pilli, native lime etc) with seaweed oil dusted with kakadu native plum powder.Porridge of golden and desert oak wattleseed with saltbush wattle porridge topped with salt bush and finger lime.Seafood platter and crocodile fat starting from the bottom right hand corner pipi, blue mussel, strawberry clam, cockle and oyster all prepared with tomato juice and crocodile fat.

This time I remembered to take a photo!W.A. deep sea snow crab with cured egg yolk lightly steamed snow crab in a fermented kangaroo meat sauce (we are pretty sure that is what they said).PIE: dried scallops and nasturium flowers kelp tart with scallop fudge and a celery reduction served with foraged flowers.BBQed milk ‘dumpling’ with marron and magpie goose marron brushed with magpie goose ragout wrapped in a burnt milk skin.Mushroom paste and tomato dried with pepperberries semi dried tomatoes from the Blue Mountains with mushroom paste. This was the alternative dish to sea urchin.Truffle and avocado kelp, avocado and truffle.Abalone schnitzel and bush condiments finger lime, beach floral bouquet, succulent, kakadu native plum, Neptune’s necklace, glass beads, seaside fennel served with an abalone schnitzel and celery yeast water.It takes great skill to cook abalone well.The table was divided between choosing their favourite course between the snow crab, marron and the schnitzel; they were all still my favourite and I enjoyed them even more the second time around.

Marinated fresh fruit mango ice cream sandwich with green ants, compressed watermelon with black currant wood oil and pineapple sprayed in whisky and sprinkled with some salt.A close up of the mango gelato sandwich with green ants.Mirrabelle plum, lime and pepperberry twigs.Rum lamington lamington with milk crumb and native tamarind sauce.Peanut milk and freekah “Baytime”.Native lime.Noma have auctioned off their last dinner service (2nd April) in Australia, with profits going to OzHarvest and MAD. They have also given back to the community by allowing hospitality students an opportunity to dine at Noma free of charge, a tour of the kitchen and time to meet members of the Noma team. They also offered a vocational program for aspiring chefs and waiters as well as baking bread for the homeless.

I think it was fantastic having the Noma team in Australia, they have inspired chefs, they have pushed boundaries and showed off Australia’s unique native ingredients.

 

Noma Australia

If you somehow have not heard, Noma have made a home in Barangaroo, Australia for 10 weeks. Bookings were highly anticipated for the number 3 restaurant in the world and the entire 10-week calendar (excluding some special events) was sold out in less than 2 minutes. I was lucky enough to have dinner there last Friday night.

This has got to be one of the most photographed walls in Sydney.The view from the terrace.When we arrived, they knew what the person who made the booking looked like. They must have stalked him through social media/google like many other restaurants do. We were slightly early to our booking so the Noma staff offered us a drink on their terrace. Without asking if everyone wanted the aperitif, they poured 6 glasses and I naturally just gave mine to TimmyC. They were very liberal with the refills and then we were brought inside to our table.

Snakebite aperitif a mix of cider and beer ($25.00 per person). I was a bit shocked at the price but I guess after the price we paid for the meal I shouldn’t really be. I was a little disappointed that they poured me a glass even though I didn’t have any but TimmyC had both glasses and multiple refills so I guess we didn’t lose out.We were greeted by the kitchen staff who waited patiently for my phone to unfreeze and capture a quick photo before sitting down. The table was modestly decorated with a big flat plate, simple napkins and of course native Australian plants.

I finally got my camera to unfreeze and stop holding everyone up.A small intimate dining room setting.Soon after choosing beverages, a wave of chefs come to our table and all 6 of us were served instantaneously. Throughout the night, the dishes are served and taken away in this efficient manner.12 course degustation ($493 per person including credit card costs).

Unripe macadamia and spanner crab the juice of a spanner crab, green macadamia nuts with rose oil. I was surprised to find this cold and served on ice but I guess it kept the crab juices fresh and crisp on the palette. I found that some bites were more crab juice intense while with others the rose oil was stronger, but every mouthful had a nice crunch to it.Wild seasonal berries flavoured with gubinge bowl of berries (lilli pilli, native lime etc) with seaweed oil dusted with kakadu native plum powder. With so many berries each with their own unique taste, every bite was different. TimmyC called it Russian roulette as something within that berry mix was not agreeing with his taste buds. Some bites tasted nuttier than others but my favourite mouthfuls was when I’d get a bursts of citrus from the native lime.Porridge of golden and desert oak wattleseed with saltbush wattle porridge topped with salt bush and finger lime. Despite the wattleseed being prepared for many hours, I found it too hard, slightly dry and chewy for my liking. The finger lime helped but this dish wasn’t my favourite.Seafood platter and crocodile fat starting from the bottom right hand corner pipi, blue mussel, strawberry clam, cockle and oyster all prepared with tomato juice and crocodile fat. Okay, I may have gotten a little over excited and  finished eating without taking a photo first. I am only (a hungry) human. I liked how the brittle sticky covering gave each shellfish a nice salty oompf while allowing their fabulous natural flavours come through; my favourite one would have to be either the blue mussel or oyster.

You can pretend that they aren’t just empty shellsThere was one oyster left on the table that wasn’t eaten yet when I realised my lack of photos of this dish.W.A. deep sea snow crab with cured egg yolk lightly steamed snow crab in a fermented kangaroo meat sauce (we are pretty sure that is what they said). Hello heaven! The light steaming made the crab meat warm and succulent, while the sauce made it feel like we were eating buttery goodness. I wish this bowl was bigger and never ending.PIE: dried scallops and nasturium flowers kelp tart with scallop fudge and a celery reduction served with foraged flowers. They said that they could not come to Australia and not make a ‘pie’. This was a like a delicate soft savoury tart that I can’t completely describe; I didn’t think it needed the flowers though.BBQed milk ‘dumpling’ with marron and magpie goose marron brushed with magpie goose ragout wrapped in a burnt milk skin. I find it fascinating that they made a ragout from the magpie goose, just to brush the sauce onto the marron. The burnt milk skin was surprisingly sweet when eaten by itself but it provided a beautiful ‘dumpling skin’ to the juicy marron meat. I really enjoyed this.Sea urchin and tomato dried with pepper berries semi dried tomatoes from the Blue Mountains with sea urchin. Now the way I describe this dish was that it felt like art but I didn’t understand it. I don’t usually like sea urchin but I stomached this one okay and the broth cut through the acidity in the tomatoes that I found really intense. I found myself slowly eating this dish as it kept me pondering about what these flavours meant until I finished it all but I still felt a bit puzzled. Others on the table barely touched theirs as they didn’t like it so this was replaced with an alternative dish.Alternate dishavocado, kelp and truffle. The salty exterior of the kelp gave a nice seasoning to the fatty rich avocado, which finished with a truffle after taste. I much preferred this over the sea urchin.Abalone schnitzel and bush condiments finger lime, beach floral bouquet, succulent, kakadu native plum, Neptune’s necklace, glass beads, seaside fennel served with an abalone schnitzel and celery yeast water. Just when I was deciding which one I liked more between the marron or the snow crab, this strong contender was the next course that was served to us.

We were advised to spread the finger lime over the schnitzel, dip it in the sauce and just to eat all the other condiments naturally. It was amazing to see so many familiar things on my plate but I had never thought to eat or taste them before; they all provided interesting textures and subtle flavours. The abalone schnitzel was perfectly crumbed and crispy and dipping it into that sauce just gave it extra levels of flavours and saltiness. I loved the sauce so much I started dipping my bouquet in it just to finish it all off.Delicious celery yeast water.Marinated fresh fruit mango ice cream sandwich with green ants, compressed watermelon with black currant wood oil and pineapple sprayed in whisky and sprinkled with some salt. I thought that the mango gelato was so intense that I didn’t notice what the ants tasted like, I should have picked one off and ate it separately. I really liked the pineapple, the whisky really cut through the acidity and allowed it to be extra sweet.Blackberries served with mirrabelle plum, lime and pepperberry twig. We were told to eat the fruit and then to gently chew on the juniper branch. I thought the fresh blackberries and plum weren’t overly sweet especially when pairing it with the last juice but the twig was really interesting as it gave my mouth some heat.Rum lamington lamington with milk crumb and native tamarind sauce. I knew I was eating something because I put spoonfuls of it into my mouth, but what looked like sponge cake before me dissolved on my tongue almost instantly. It was almost like eating fairy floss with the way it disappeared. The native tamarind sauce gave the whole dessert a nice tart tang.Peanut milk and freekah “Baytime”. When they said that they couldn’t use the name of a certain ice-cream and replaced the name with “Baytime” because we were by the water, I had a certain expectation in my mind. What this reminded me of was more of an ice-cream picnic bar as the peanut flavour was quite strong and it had a toffee centre. Native lime. This reminded me of dried mandarin peels that I used to eat as a kid, the skin quickly dissolved to give you a sweet then sour aftertaste.Beverages~

Juice parings (5 juices $95.00)

It felt really weird drinking a juice with oil in it but helped coat the mouth before all these intense seafood courses came out. When had by itself, these juices were really intense in flavour but it eventually rounded out in my mouth when paired with food.

Bergamot kombucha / native mint 

Rose/spruce wood oil 

Green tomato / lemon myrtle 

smoked pepper/red pepper berry

blood plum/native lemongrass This was really sweet unlike the other juices of the degustation.Wine pairings (there were 7 wines $215.00)

Tea and coffee ($10.00 each).The first question most people ask me is ‘how was Noma/the fancy restaurant?’ and I respond with ‘Noma isn’t for everyone’.

That statement has nothing to do with the price but really the meat heavy culture we have in Australia. The time leading up to my meal at Noma, I was in a ‘no spoilers’ mode for trying to keep the menu a surprise to get the full effect on the day. I knew it would be seafood heavy with tropical fruits but I was surprised to find that there was no red meat on the menu.

A lot of my friends won’t eat seafood unless it is a crumbed piece of fish next to fried chips, so to serve shellfish and sea urchin would be wasted on some (like the sad feelings I get when non-Asians go to a Chinese wedding and don’t eat much). The reality is that the majority of us don’t eat as much seafood as other parts of the world, despite our iconic saying of throwing another shrimp on the barbie.

To have been ranked number 1 in the world, you can’t just cook the usual things really well, you have to break new ground, find new ingredients and do things a little differently, which Noma has done during their time in Australia. I felt a bit naïve at the end of the meal as these chefs have come to our country to show of our unique and native ingredients to us.

People ask me if it was worth the money and I say yes. If the number 3 restaurant in the world comes to your doorstep and prepares unique ingredients for a 10-week stint, you say ‘yes!’. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a unique dining experience.

Venue: Noma Australia

Address: 23 Barangaroo Ave, New South Wales 2146

Website: http://noma.dk/australia/
Noma Australia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A lot of Barangaroo is still under construction but in a few years, I cannot wait to see what this place becomes.

Attica – birthday promises

Ready, get set… Book!

TimmyC had promised to take me to Attica for my birthday next year; we rarely plan ahead but for meals like this we will. As it so happens, we have been given a generous offer of free accommodation with family until the end of the year and we jumped at the opportunity.

I told TimmyC to book Attica for around November unaware of their booking system. Apparently they only release booking blocks of up to three months in advance and new dates are released the first Wednesday of each month, which happen to be last week. From my blanket fort in the lounge room, I reminded TimmyC last week that he had to make a very important phone call at 9am. It turns out that all the bookings are made online and as soon as the phone message prompted him to go on the website TimmyC rushed online. Dates quickly became dashed from the calendar, TimmyC panics and fumbles for his mouse. The 21st of November was already dashed but he clicked on it anyway. Presto! He was able to make a booking for 3 people that night anyway.

WOHOO, we’re in! And now we wait…

p.s.
Yes I realise I have already been very spoilt this year.
p.p.s.
No this will no longer count as my birthday present TimmyC

Chef’s table at The Fat Duck Melbourne

Head Chef: Jonathan Lake

Here is my cautionary advice, if you are lucky enough to get the chance to dine at The Fat Duck I would not read this post.

Let yourself have no expectations or previews and just immerse yourself into the world that these talented culinary experts have created for you to experience. I went in with little or no idea of what was going to happen other than I was going to get an iPod to listen to somewhere during lunch but that was it and I was surprised, impressed and amazed every step of the way.

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I am not known to be a person to get to places on time but I wasn’t surprised that we were 30 minutes early to our midday reservation at The Fat Duck in Melbourne. It allowed enough time to take obligatory selfies with the sign, instagram it to the world and tell other foodies about where I was. We were the first ones loitering around but it wasn’t too long before other patrons arrived, took their selfies and waited near us. I must admit, I was getting rather excited but cautious at the same time as I felt that this was all too good to be true and maybe TimmyC’s work friends who actually got the table, were playing a cruel elaborate hoax or something.Precisely at midday, a well dressed woman approached us and said it was time to commence lunch and told us to walk on through. I didn’t realise in our excitement that we had walked straight past her and entered into a dark hallway, until we didn’t quite know what to do or where to walk to next. The wooden path was getting narrower as we moved up the hallway and at the very end there was an electronic screen displaying a small door, which gave the impression that the room was getting smaller. Just as we approached the small door, a sliding door on our right opened to reveal the bright dining room of the restaurant and several other well dressed women waiting to show us to our table. We were just like Alice falling down into the rabbit hole.

I didn’t know to do next when we were approaching this tiny door, I just kept taking photos! As soon as we stated the name we were booked under, they knew instantly without referring to any books or hesitation that we were the four lucky diners to be seated at the chef’s table during that lunch service. Before we were shown to our seats, they gave us a quick tour of the dining room as we wouldn’t really get to see it because we were seated in the kitchen. My eyes darted everywhere between the gorgeous curved lounge booth seating, the giant fob watch mounted on the wall counting down the days of the restaurant’s time in Australia and the huge puzzle consisting of 19 500 pieces spanning the whole side of the wall.

 Just under halfway of their time left in Australia for this ‘pop up’ restaurant.  We were getting a little history lesson and a feel for the Bray location, it is so small by comparison. The chefs are enjoying an expanded kitchen space while it lasts. We were told that the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray gets 250,000 calls a day and there is a three year waiting list!We were eventually shown our table, it was very spacious lounge with a big wooden (and we were also told very expensive) table inside the kitchen. The table setting was very basic, a water glass and a looped napkin with subtle text “The Fat Duck Heston Blumenthal” across it.This was our view, service hadn’t officially started yet but soon after the kitchen was bustling with cooking and plating. The chef’s life isn’t so glamorous when your day starts at 8:30/9am all the way through to 1am.We were introduced to Andrea the sommelier and Matt the head sous chef who said if there were any questions do not hesitate to ask.

This was their drinks menu, it was massive!

 The Fat Duck Melbourne 15 courses

($525 per person | $675 per person at the chef’s table)

We were asked if there were any allergies, dietary preferences or specific tastes that we didn’t like; some of us didn’t love the taste of licorice and beetroot but we were all willing to try the menu as it was intended. What surprised me was because they have this one set menu, everyone, regardless of allergens or dietary preferences will get the same dishes. They have learnt to adapt every dish for a specific dietary requirement; they could make the whole thing vegan if requested.

AERATED BEETROOT

We were advised not to leave it too long before putting this morsel into our mouths and letting it dissolve on our tongue. The texture of the ‘ball’ was surprisingly like pressing your finger in florist foam and as it dissolved on our tongues, it released a subtle beetroot flavour followed by strong horseradish after taste which paired really well together and despite the different degrees of flavour, it all balanced out.

I had a smirk on my face, Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

NITRO POACHED APERITIFS

Vodka and Lime Sour, Gin and Tonic, Tequila and Grapefruit

We all chose one each and it was the beginning of food theatrics as we all watched our server prepare our palette cleansers in front of us with a little help from liquid nitrogen. The taste of my vodka lime and sour was clean, cold, precise and left my tongue feeling like I had had a quick lick of an iced metal pole. My mouth was refreshed, cleansed and yearning for the next course.A quick photo of the meringue made with liquid nitrogen before TimmyC quickly popped it into his mouth and started breathing out ‘smoke’ through his nostrils.

RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO

Pommery Grain Mustard Ice cream

The red cabbage gazpacho was strong, the mustard ice cream was also intense but when eaten together they were a perfect marriage. My brain just could not comprehend.

SAVOURY LOLLIES

Waldorf Rocket, Salmon Twister and Feast (what we call ‘Gaytime’)

Only at The Fat Duck could you have ‘sweets’ at the beginning and end with bacon and eggs for dessert. We were advised to eat from left to right. The first savoury lolly was in the shape of a small ‘rocket ice block’, which was really layers of walnut (top), celery and apple (middle) and I don’t remember what the bottom was supposed to be, but together they simulated the taste of a Waldorf salad with the texture and temperature of an ice block. I couldn’t stop smiling while licking this.We were all visually deceived that since all of them looked like ice creams that they would all be hard and cold. The second ‘lolly’ was surprisingly really soft as it was a delicate piece of salmon carefully rolled in a ‘sheet’ of intricately piped sauce. I really enjoy salmon so I particularly liked this lolly.Last but not least was a ‘Gaytime’ that was made from chicken liver parfait. I am not one for offal bits and pate so I was quite hesitant on trying this after enjoying the salmon so much. I took a big bite and was pleasantly surprised (yes I’ll use the word ‘surprised’ a lot throughout this post) how creamy, smooth and light the texture was and the taste was just intensely salty in a good way. It really boggles your mind to eat something so savoury while staring at a mini ice-cream. All gone 😦

JELLY OF QUAIL, MARRON CREAM

Caviar Sorbet, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
(Homage to Alain Chapel)

We were invited on a journey, a journey of the senses through a thick forest.

We each opened the film box that was sitting on a bed of moss, placed in on our tongue before being asked to take bites of our truffle toast and then a scoop of all the layers of the jelly. While we were eating, we were told to smell the fog coming off the moss which blanketed the table, it made our faces damp and smelt like we were walking amongst oak trees. Entertainment value was 10/10 but I wasn’t fully sold on the savoury jelly which I forced myself to quickly finish so I could end on the delicious truffle toast. 

SNAIL PORRIDGE 

Joselito Ham, Shaved Fennel

My friend joked not to fill up on bread but I didn’t think they would serve bread and butter here. When we were given a slice of sour dough bread, we were told a lot of perfecting went into it before they were happy with the end result. The bread itself was soft, the crust was crunchy but not chewy and the butter was also made in-house.We all ended up eating two slices of bread because we used the second slice to mop up the rest of the sauce from our snail porridge. It is hard to describe the taste of this as a whole, but you can really taste the parsley soup, the refreshing crisp of the fennel and some crunchy salty bits at the bottom. None of us was put off by the snails but I didn’t love this dish as much as the previous dishes that we had before it. I used this opportunity between courses to quickly duck to the bathroom. The panels all look like walls so it was hard to find where the actual door was. Inside the bathroom they even had ‘Fat Duck’ soap and lotion!

ROAST MARRON

Shiitake, Confit Kombu and Sea Lettuce

They had adapted this dish from the Bray menu to show off the flavours of Australia’s seafood. Our server told us that their research suggested that a lot of Australians don’t really eat that much seafood and they found this difficult to cater for, but I’m glad that they didn’t omit it completely.

Marron is a crayfish from WA, the meat is not as sweet as scallops and mud crab but it almost has that same texture. They have paired it with sea lettuce that is washed 5 times to get rid of the salty ocean taste and then dehydrated which gave a nice crunchy texture. I found that the flavours of the shiitake and kombu were quite robust comparatively and almost over powered the dish.

 

MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY

Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich

There was a tea party and we were all invited.

We were asked to read our cards while our Mad Hatters sandwich tier was being put down along side our tea cups and a glass teapot each. I squealed with excitement when I saw how cute our mock turtle ‘island’ was with little enoki mushrooms poking out from our mock egg.

We were shown the pocket watches inside the box which had a loud ticking sound. We were told that they don’t keep good time and we were going to lower it into our teapots and swirl it until it completely dissolved and we were left with nothing but a stock soup and gold leaves which we poured into our tea cups. It takes over a week just to make the pocket watch alone, it is made from a heavily reduced stock that a senior chef is in charge of because of the timeline and how many steps are involved.

       Mock turtle soup!I don’t know what else that they put into our sandwiches except the piece toast in the middle. It might sound weird to put toast in sandwiches but it gave it a really great crunch like we were biting into a schnitzel.

We had to sip our soup and take bites of our sandwiches intermittently, it was a weird, crazy and wonderful experience.    

“SOUND OF THE SEA”

We were instructed to put on the headphones and the dish served next will be explained after we ate it. We were each handed a big shell with a iPod shuffle tucked inside with Bose headphones. The soundtrack playing was the sound of the waves washing up onto the shore before being pulled back again into the ocean, there were seagulls in the background and in the distance you can hear a ship horn. It was playing loud enough to drown out the background noise and fully immerse you into a beach side area, far far away.

Our bespoke ‘plate’ was placed in front of us, it looked beautiful. The plate itself looked like we were eating at the beach, the flavours were salty and lemony while the food itself mimicked a beautiful shoreline with lots of foamy bubbles. There were two types of fish and some abalone tucked amongst some native succulents, fingerlimes and some sweet and savoury ‘sand’ that was made from tapioca and dehydrated anchovies. I love how much sound and visual effects can really take a meal to a whole new level.        

SALMON POACHED IN A LIQUORICE GEL

Endive, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe

The flavours of licorice were subtle if not non-existent, the salmon was extremely delicate and the roe was big and juicy like the pink grapefruit, while the vanilla mayonnaise blew our minds. No trickery in this dish, it was just the chefs showing off their skills with unusual flavour pairings that work well, beautifully plated together.

LAMB WITH CUCUMBER

Green Pepper and Caraway

They gave us lamb across two dishes. The first was a savoury jelly and mint puree served with a quinoa crisp and lamb heart/loin/leg. The savoury jelly was like the solidified lamb juices at the bottom of a roasting pan which served as a really salty flavour off set by the mint and quinoa. I could tell you based on texture which part of the lamb I was eating, but taste wise it was all the same.     The next dish was a continuation from the first, this time using the saddle of the lamb served with charred cucumber that I found extremely refreshing. As the red meat portion of the meal, I found the lamb to be quite underwhelming despite the cavier giving it a salty ooopmf. Or maybe it was because other dishes were so amazing that I didn’t think this one really could compare.

HOT & ICED TEA

This took me by complete surprise. At first as I was just sipping hot tea, until my friends tell me to turn my glass. I turn my glass slightly clockwise and my next sip was truly magical. Half of my mouth was drinking hot peachy/lemony tea and the other half peachy/lemony iced tea, there was a complete division right down the middle! I was expecting a cold iced tea with chilli infusions that warmed the mouth but this was truly remarkable.

I asked the chef if he wouldn’t mind getting me next time this was being prepared. A few minutes later he asked me to come to the pastry team area where I watched a chef simultaneously pour both hot and cold tea in a glass with a silicon divider in the middle that was lifted just before serving. There is a little bit of gelatin in mixture to allow the halves not to mix instantly. Pastry team hard at work, that is a lot of plated desserts!   Removing the silicon divider right at the last moment before serving.

BOTRYTIS CINEREA

This was visually stunning. Everything on the plate was completely edible; from the stem, the gold spiral spun from sugar, down to the leaves that looked like they were made from glass.

They had encapsulated all the complex flavours of a dessert wine and turned them into different components of this dessert. The meringue tasted like saffron, the sand had blue cheese and parmesan, the ‘stem’ tasted like fried pastry, there was a jelly ball that tasted alcoholic, there were apricot flavours, fresh fruit, grapes, dried fruits, every note of the wine was on this plate.

There were so many components to this dish, I was surprised that one of the ‘grapes’  which were ever so delicate, once cracked open contained crunchy bits and popping candy. There was so much complexity to this dish, it was mind blowing.

THE NOT-SO-FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST

We were each given a bowl, a box of cereal with a ‘toy’ inside and a cute little bottle of milk. I loved how we were eating breakfast for dessert!

What it really was was a piece of the 19 500 piece puzzle outside where each guest plays a part in assembling, a clear pouch of dehydrated slices of vegetables and popping candy to go with some parsnip milk.   TimmyC playing his part in the puzzle.    While we were eating, they started settling up a cooking station on the table. No breakfast is complete without bacon and eggs! Our server begins to tell us a story that they have special chickens which were purely fed on bacon sandwiches, they in turn have laid eggs that have been branded with the Fat Duck stamp.

It was amazing to see the bacon crème anglaise being turned into ‘scrambled eggs’ with the help of liquid nitrogen, which was then served with candied pancetta and a sweet bread with a crunchy toffee crust. We were also given a Fat Duck marmalade to go with it all and you could eat the lid of the jar! I couldn’t stop giggling throughout the whole course.    Fat Duck special chicken eggs.Bacon and Eggs made the Heston way!  

WHISKY WINE GUMS

Wow, for someone who doesn’t usually drink I was SOOOO impressed with this. After taking a million photos, we had to enquire about what to do next. We were instructed to peel off each wine gum in sequential order and place it on our tongues.

I thought it was awesome that these gums were just stuck to the side of the glass in the frame! I placed the first one on my tongue and as it dissolved, the taste of whisky flooded my mouth, I could feel the warmth going down my throat, my nostrils cleared and with some of the gums I could even sense some oak flavour in there.

If I didn’t think Heston was a genius before, I did now!

1) Glenlivet (12 yr)       2) Oban (14 yr)       3) Highland park (18 yr)     4) Lark distillery – damn this was so strong            5) Laphroaig (10 yr)

 Cheers!

“LIKE A KID IN A SWEET SHOP”

We were each given a striped bag filled with sweets. It was a sad departing gift like when you get a lolly bag at the end of a birthday party, but we knew that this experience had to come to an end, after all it had been almost 5 hours already.

Inside the bag was instructions, of course we needed instructions because throughout the meal we had been unsure what to eat, how to eat it and what to do next. At first we had to smell the card, it was perfumed to smell like you had just entered a lolly shop, I couldn’t stop sniffing it! It then sort of described the rest of the sweets without giving too much away.Aerated chocolate Mandarin jelly. This was like biting into an aero bar with a jelly, definitely a must for those who like to pair citrus and chocolate.Apple pie caramel with an edible wrapper (no need to unwrap). I couldn’t really taste the apple pie side of things but I loved how the wrapper dissolved away to reveal a rich caramel flavour. The wrapper itself apparently takes 4 days to make, which is such a shame when it dissolves so fast in your mouth.The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts… There was a mini envelope and the waitress said we could eat the seal which tasted like white chocolate. Inside was a Queen of Hearts playing card which you could bite into and it tasted like white chocolate with a filling.Oxchoc Wagyu Nougat, Guiness and beef caramel. I didn’t read what this really was until I ate it, I wouldn’t have picked it to have beef fat in there, it just tasted like a delicate layered truffle with some salty hints in it.        

Beverages~

Fat Duck Juice (200mL $15.00)

Orange – squash. It was really hard to describe the taste. I could taste orange and something else but I wouldn’t have picked it was butternut squash.Apple – blood plum. I thought this tasted like eating a whole handful of pink nerds but a less intense sweetness. I thought this was more interesting than my orange – squash juice. When the sommelier was describing the process of making this juice it sounded really complex.Romano pepper – strawberry infused with mint and ginger. It had a strong smell of roasted capsicum and when you had a sip you can really taste roasted capsicum but towards the end, the flavour lifts to reveal a sweet strawberry after taste.Tea there was a unique tea menu that included a $75 pot of Puer Tea from the 1970’s. I just went with Iron Buddga Oolong tea (Fujian, China $15.00) where the tea setup was elaborate and the tea was steeped for exactly three minutes.Wine pairings ($200.00 per person) One of us went for the tasting wines that matched our 15 courses. He enjoyed it every glass of the way and was pleasantly surprised by the show sparkling shiraz and was keen to get his hands on some himself. He said that each wine course matched perfectly with the food.

2013 Gruener Veltliner Federspiel, Loibner, Weingut Knoll (Wachau)

2013 M3, Shaw and Smith, Adelaide Hills (South Australia)

Sake Junmai, Tengumai, Yamahai Jikomi (Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan)

2014 Watervale, Mount Horocks, Riesling, Clare Valley (South Australia)

2004 Show sparkling, limited release Shiraz, Seppelt, Grampians (Victoria)

2012 Tout Pres by Farr, Pinot Noir, Geelong (Victoria)

2012 Noble Rot Semillon, Henschke, Eden Valley (South Australia)We probably finished the menu tasting in 5 hours, the last hour was spent really checking out the kitchen, talking to Matt the head sous chef, other chefs who were cooking and Jonathan the head chef when he eventually came in towards the end of the meal to see how things were going (he was stuck in meetings all day). Even between courses Matt encouraged us to wander through the kitchen and check things out. Everyone was super friendly, focused, passionate and you can see in some photos they are also a little cheeky.Before we left, we were handed an envelope that contained our menu which was sealed with wax. We asked if we could eat this seal too but apparently it was really made out of waxAs we left, the little door in the hallway appeared to be opened and inside was chef busily working in the kitchen.So what did I think? I thought the whole experience was absolutely amazing! Yes not all flavours appealed to me but it would be impossible to get a menu to cater for everyone’s palette. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, I was constantly amazed and I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

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I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it!

I hope I didn’t get that song stuck in your head

Despite swapping my tanned legs for thick stockings, fresh sweet pineapple juice for hot tea and lazy sleep-in days on a king bed for early morning wake ups to get to work somewhat on time.
I am over the moon today because it is just sinking in that I’ll be flying out to Melbourne tomorrow for a very special lunch. Whenever there is a silent moment in my head I start thinking about it and do a little excited dance on the spot. EEEEEP! I cannot wait!
*deep breath*
This is just a courtesy warning that I’ll be spamming your feeds tomorrow
🙂

Red Lantern on Riley

I knew after eating at Quay, the next meal would be really hard to top but Red Lantern in Surry Hills was very memorable and left me feeling excited for the next sequential dish when I thought I wasn’t that hungry.2015/01/img_9138.jpgA modern Asian feel inside. I loved the big centre table that we sat at.2015/01/img_9139.jpgMuc Rang Muoi lightly battered chilli salted squid with fresh lemon and white pepper dipping sauce ($24.50). I didn’t really bother with the dipping sauce as it was rather sour and I thought it was better without it. A very easy to eat dish, I didn’t think I was that hungry but after a bit of pecking, it was all gone.2015/01/img_9151.jpgCuon Thit Nuong soft rice paper rolls of char grilled honey pork neck and Vietnamese herbs ($30.00 for 5 rolls). These were rather quite small and they were filled with more noodles and less herbs than I’m used to. You could still taste the subtle flavours of the pork despite the noodle to everything else ratio. These are pricey when you usually see them at other restaurants at $2-4 a pop instead of $6.2015/01/img_9150.jpgBanh Xeo crisp rice flour crepe filled with master stock pork belly and tiger prawn, served with fresh herbs and lettuce to wrap ($29.50). I’ve eaten my fair share of Vietnamese pancakes but this by far was one of my favourites! The crepe was exceptionally crispy, the pork and prawns were nice but the herbs made the real impact. Despite constant dipping in the sauce, the crepe stayed crispy and added to the crunch along with the lettuce and bean sprouts. Next time I won’t share!2015/01/img_9155.jpg

2015/01/img_9156.jpgBo Luc Lac O’Connor pasture fed English breed beef, strip loin wok tossed with black pepper, garlic, oyster sauce and sesame ($38.00). Although this seemed like a simple dish, it was made very well that it impressed me a lot. What didn’t impress me was the price tag attached.2015/01/img_9158.jpgCa Ri Chay tofu, eggplant and cherry tomato vegetarian yellow curry ($29.50). Vegetarian curry was definitely not my choice but I fell in love with the amount of depth this sauce had. It definitely made me think about the type of curry I would like to develop when I get through my New Year’s resolutions.2015/01/img_9162.jpgCa Kho New Zealand King Salmon fillet in a caramel, chilli and black pepper sauce with Chinese broccoli and sesame crackers ($39.00). Fish isn’t usually my first pick either but Mumsy loves fish and chose this dish. I really liked it. The sticky sweet caramel soy sauce always goes perfectly with salmon.2015/01/img_9160.jpgChuoi Chien Banana fritters crumbed in coconut and white rice with palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce and vanilla bean ice cream ($16.00). My sister was the only one who wanted a dessert but she let me have a spoonful. The addition of the coconut with the banana makes me think of a cross between a deep-fried ice cream and a banana split.2015/01/img_9165.jpgWe sat at the spacious big table in the centre of the dining area while the other neighbouring booths looked a little snug and the place can get quite noisy. We had to ask for new bowls when we sat down as two of them were dirty; the staff were friendly throughout the night and were attentive with things like water and taking away plates etc.2015/01/img_9147.jpgThe bill came to around $180ish (after Entertainment book discount) between 5 diners, 3 of which just had a large lunch at Quay. Not the cheapest Asian meal but if you ignore the price tag and order the right dishes, you’ll have a wonderful night. There is a snug fitting bar at the back which would be nice to hang out at while waiting for a table.

Venue: Red Lantern on Crown

Address60 Riley St Darlinghurst, NSW

Phone: 02 9698 4355

Entertainment book: Yes! It is in the Sydney one.

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Quay

It had been a several month wait before we could get a lunch reservation for three at Quay in Sydney but it was well worth the wait. We were there to celebrate TimmyC’s belated birthday (a lovely gift from his close friends), my Mumsy’s birthday and… I was just there to eat *blush*

We were notified several times that our sweeping views of the world-famous harbour and Sydney Opera House were going to be obstructed by a cruise ship which wasn’t due to leave until later that day, but that didn’t matter for us as we were there for the food and company.

It was a very warm day in Sydney and when we walked out of the elevator we welcomed with crisp cool air and attentive service. We were led upstairs to a beautiful separate space that would hold only 14 other guests during that lunch service.2015/01/img_9062.jpgIt was a spectacular day overlooking the Harbour.2015/01/img_9063.jpgThen I remembered that there’d be a great big cruise ship.2015/01/img_9094.jpgThere were several dining options: 3 courses $150, 4 courses for $175 and the tasting menu for $235 per person, we didn’t need to really look as we had decided on the tasting menu before we even got there. They told us it was going to take 1.5 -2.5 hours and that surprised TimmyC and I but we ended up being there for 4 hours and was one of the last to leave, that part didn’t shock us.2015/01/img_9107.jpgMocktail~ The Johnnie Dancer. A union of lychee juice, passionfruit puree and muddled lime with a dash of cloudy apple and pineapple juice ($14.00).2015/01/img_9077.jpgTimmyC and Mumsy both got gin and tonics but different gins which meant different tastes and different garnishes.2015/01/img_9075.jpgTasting menu ($235 pp)2015/01/img_9060.jpg

Amuse bouche~ Beetroot, house cultured crème fraîche, violet and sour dough bread crumbs. TimmyC must have been in heaven having to not wait for me to take photos of dishes from every angle, so by the time I was finished taking my first photo he had finished the bite sized morsel but the surprising thing for me was to see TimmyC eating beetroot. The beetroot taste was subtle and paired well with the crème fraîche. I loved the crunchy unexpected bread crumbs. 2015/01/img_9080.jpg2015/01/img_9081.jpg2015/01/img_9084.jpgRaw smoked Blackmore wagyu, horseradish soured cream, fermented rye crisps, raw funghi. I was excited to try the Blackmore wagyu (I loved it at Chifley’s) but it really took a back seat to everything else. At first you can taste the smokey wagyu, followed by subtle horseradish and ends on the earthy fungi. I loved the depth of flavour you could get from one bite and the rye crisps really added a lovely crunch to what would have otherwise been a soft dish. It really set the bar high for what was to come.

The plate reminded us of a kidney.2015/01/img_9086.jpgIt’s amazing how much earthy flavours are hidden in the gills of mushrooms.2015/01/img_9087.jpgCongee of mud crab, palm heart, egg yolk emulsion. If there is something you need to know about me, it’s that I love congee and I love mud crab (and steak!), so I was very excited to try this dish. I thought the addition of palm heart and egg yolk emulsion was an odd choice but after tasting it, they were really crucial to making this the amazing dish that it was. It had a ‘watery’ texture because there was more broth to rice ratio, but it made the dish easier to eat. The palm hearts added a really good crunch while the egg yolk emulsion was very creamy and tied the whole dish together. I tilted my plate to make sure I got every last drop.2015/01/img_9088.jpg

2015/01/img_9089.jpgWhite summer squash, umami juices, bay lobster, clams, sea urchin, chicken fat. This dish divided the table. TimmyC didn’t really like this dish and he thought the addition of chicken fat cheapened it. I on the other hand, really like this dish and I loved the addition of chicken fat (think pan juices from a roast chicken). The summer squash was the star of the plate, it was really fresh and gave a light refreshing feeling to the palette which was nice just before a heavy protein course.2015/01/img_9090.jpg2015/01/img_9091.jpgComplimentary bread and butter. We didn’t know if we were going to get any bread because it was served so late in the meal. I really liked the inner bready part of the white bread and loved the crust that had black sesame seeds from the sesame seed bread. The butter was ridiculously soft but I thought it lacked some salt, luckily they provided that as well.2015/01/img_9093.jpgSmoked and confit pig jowl, roasted koji, shiitake, kombu, sesame, sea scallop, milk curd. It was a unanimous decision at our table that this was our favourite dish of the tasting menu. There were so many components but they all played a part with their flavours. Depending on the mouthful of ingredients you took, it could taste very different but without a doubt, all spoonfuls were AMAZING. This dish had everything; the pig jowl was tender and fatty, it had crunchy parts and it had creamy parts all topped with a light flavourful broth. If I was going À la carte, I would definitely order this dish.2015/01/img_9095.jpgThe broth was poured on each plate at the table.2015/01/img_9098.jpgKing George whiting, native coastal greens, hatsuka radish, smoked oyster crackling. I didn’t know what to expect from succulents but it gave the dish a unique texture. The fish was well cooked and a lot of the delicious salty taste came from the smoked oyster crackling.2015/01/img_9099.jpg

2015/01/img_9100.jpgNative succulents made a unique addition to the dish.2015/01/img_9102.jpgSlow cooked duck, black rice miso, celery heart, black garlic, ice plant buds. I was really intrigued about the ‘ice plant buds’, it was like biting to a crisp juicy capsicum. All the dark colours and saltiness reminded Mum and I of salted black beans which I love, but I wasn’t so keen on the duck and thought it was a bit hard to cut through despite being given a Laguiole knife. In comparison to the rest of the tasting menu, I didn’t think it was as good.2015/01/img_9103.jpgA close up of the ice plant bud.2015/01/img_9106.jpg2015/01/img_9105.jpgSnow egg cherry granita with a cherry ice cream centre. Cherry wouldn’t have been my first pick for a fruit but it didn’t take away from the technical difficulty to make this dish; I have the highest regard for anyone that can make this dessert. After taking a million photos, I used my spoon to knock on the egg to gauge the texture. It didn’t pierce but it didn’t take much to break through a fine toffee layer to expose a perfectly round sphere full of soft meringue with a cherry ice cream centre. I love the  sharp contrast between the sweetness in the soft meringue and powder compared to the chunky slightly sour cherry granita, but everything balanced out in the end. An outstanding amazing dessert!2015/01/img_9108.jpg

2015/01/img_9112.jpg2015/01/img_9116.jpgChocolate ethereal. I must say having watched only a few episodes of Master Chef, one of them included the making of the chocolate ethereal; I had very high hopes for this dish but it fell flat in my mouth. It just tasted like a lot of sharp sweetness from the chocolate and muscatels which meant everything else faded into the background. I know how much effort that went into making the different shards but I didn’t think taste wise it added anything to the dish and it was more for show and texture. TimmyC didn’t agree and finished off my dessert.2015/01/img_9125.jpg2015/01/img_9123.jpg

2015/01/img_9126.jpg2015/01/img_9124.jpgWe TimmyC couldn’t himself but to order another dessert, he suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to food.

Lychee, rose, coconut ($35.00). I prefer this dessert over the chocolate ethereal despite having less complex flavours, they have chosen a select few flavours that work really well together. The dessert itself was very cold, but when you placed a spoonful in your mouth, some parts gave a crunch, some bits were juicy and some bits melted. I really like this flavour combination and it was more of a subtle sweet dessert.2015/01/img_9121.jpgCoffee, tea and Quay Petit Fours. I wasn’t going to eat any petit fours because I was so content after the tasting menu but I did notice that one of the truffles was covered in pop corn and inside had a molten caramel centre and I could not say no.2015/01/img_9129.jpgFresh peppermint tea.2015/01/img_9127.jpgNot only was the food spectacular, the wait staff were unpretentious, friendly and attentive throughout the service. It is a lot of money for a meal but it has amazing views, it spans over several hours and is almost like entertainment with a meal when you’re experiencing the different flavour and texture combinations that are given to you.

 

Venue: Quay

Address: Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, 5 Hickson Rd The Rocks, NSW

Phone: 02 9251 5600
Reservations: Taken from their website “Quay is open daily for dinner service from 6pm – 10pm. Lunch service is Friday to Sunday, taking bookings from 12pm – 2pm.

We do receive a high volume of reservations requests daily. Please allow at least 48 hours in which to reply to your request. We do encourage you to contact reservations directly on 02 9251 5600 if you wish to make a booking within the 48 hour period.

We take bookings no more than 6 months in advance. Friday, Saturday & Sunday evenings are booked out 6 months in advance for bookings of two and four guests.

Please note reservations are allocated to tables by booking date order. Guests can certainly request tables but unfortunately we cannot always guarantee your table request due to table configurations and also booking order.”
Quay on Urbanspoon

I’ve got a golden ticket

I got a table at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck while it is in Melbourne during their 6 month period starting from February 3rd.

Yes. You read that right.

I’m not Charlie Bucket in this story but rather the tap dancing Grandpa who gets to tag along and go for the magical ride. One of TimmyC’s work colleagues got one of the very few congratulatory emails that offered him a table for four at the very highly anticipated restaurant. Not just any table, the chef’s table, the one where you can view everything from behind the scenes, which has not been offered before at any of Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants.

I get the opportunity to visit the Willy Wonka factory equivalent in the fine dining culinary world where Oompa Loompas are replaced with wait staff direct from Bray, instead of the chocolate room there are signature dishes like ‘Sounds of the Sea’ and instead of leaving blue and round, I’ll be just round and rolled out the door after a 4.5 hr dining experience that money cannot buy (but they’ve still managed to find a price tag). The Fat Duck will have only 14,000 people to experience a “gastronomic journey of history, nostalgia, emotion and memory” during their six month stay in Melbourne.

I cannot wait!

Trust me, I was doing the Grandpa Joe dance when TimmyC was telling me on the phone that we got in on a table!

The Fat Duck details

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this news and you can find all the details in the article here.

The run down:

  1. An electronic ballot (open from 9am 8th Oct 2014) will determine who gets a reservation in this highly sort after restaurant which will seat about 50 people
  2. There will be a chef’s table (4 people) where guests will see the ‘behind the scenes’ food prep and talk to the chefs throughout the service, which has not been offered before in any of Heston’s restaurants
  3. They will contact the people who are lucky enough to get a table as well as the ones that aren’t
  4. The Fat Duck will be opened from the 3rd February 2015 for 6 months, after which it will turn into ‘Dinner by Heston’ when all the staff will return home back to the renovated original restaurant in Bray
  5. Heston himself will be there for at least half the time which will include the first and last month
  6. If you’re lucky enough to get in, it will cost you $525 a person for a 12-15 course of “pure food theatre”
  7. The menu will not be the same as the original UK restaurant

An electronic ballot seems fair enough, but 50 seats is not big at all for a restaurant with this much air of excitement and anticipation. I should start telling all my friends that all I want for my 30th birthday is to eat at The Fat Duck (so start clicking).

So it seems that the 8th of October 2014 is the date to write into your calendar folks!

A Fat Duck with a fat bill

I’ve been asking everyone if they had been to the Fat Duck before as I’m trying to gauge how much it would be. Everyone is excited about the Fat Duck’s first international venture and out of all the destinations, it will make its home in Melbourne for only a short 6 months before turning into Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. If I was lucky enough to make a booking, how many would I book for? Just for two knowing TimmyC and I are reliable? Or do I book for 4-6 and see who wants to come with me? Well the price would play a big factor and hence my question. How much is it to eat at the Fat Duck?

I’ve done the Maths. According to The Fat Duck website, current prices are £195 per person with an optional 12.5% service charge on top of that. After September 2014, prices will be upped to £220 per person and with the addition of the 12.5%, it comes to £247.50 which is the equivalent of $448.98 based on today’s currency exchange rate assuming that the prices stay fixed. Will it be worth it do you think?

 

The Current tasting menu (please allow 3.5 hours for this menu)

NITRO POACHED APERITIFS
Vodka and Lime Sour, Campari Soda, Tequila and Grapefruit
RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO
Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream
JELLY OF QUAIL, CRAYFISH CREAM
Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
SNAIL PORRIDGE
Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved Fennel
ROAST FOIE GRAS
Barberry, Confit Kombu and Crab Biscuit
MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY (c.1892)
Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich
“SOUND OF THE SEA”
SALMON POACHED IN A LIQUORICE GEL
Artichoke, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe
LAMB WITH CUCUMBER (c. 1805)
Green Pepper and Caviar Oil
HOT AND ICED TEA
MACERATED STRAWBERRIES
Olive Oil Biscuit, Chamomile and Coriander
BOTRYTIS CINEREA
WHISK(E)Y WINE GUMS
“LIKE A KID IN A SWEET SHOP”

 

Here is what they’ve said about bookings on their website:

AUSTRALIA 2015

In February 2015 The Fat Duck will relocate for a six month period to the Crown Resort in Melbourne, Australia. At this time no decisions have been made about the release of reservations for Australia. 

An announcement will be made later in the year and we will provide plenty of notice as to when and how the dates will be released.