Every year, the day that I look forward to the most, is my birthday. Having just turned 20, that does sound like quite an immature statement but I just love it! This year, it was extra special because M took me to one of the most iconic restaurants in Sydney - Quay. And GOD, it was amazing. Beyond amazing.
The grand dining experience at Quay ensures high quality produce, impressive technique, beautifully exquisite presentations, seductive flavours and attentive service accompanied by spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour.
Honestly, all I wondered after dinner was, how the hell is my 21st going to top THIS? :P
In 2012 Quay was voted Number 29 on the coveted S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s list, to become the highest ranked Australian restaurant and named The Best Restaurant in Australasia for the third year in a row.
Peter Gilmore is the acclaimed chef behind Quay and the restaurant has held the coveted 3 Hat & 3 Star rating in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, for the 10th year straight.
We were so lucky to get one of the best tables in the house! It was as if we were just metres away from the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The atmosphere could not have been more perfect.
There are two options of dining at Quay - option one is to follow the Tasting Menu which consists of 6 savoury dishes with 2 desserts to finish off for $220 per person. M & I decided to pursue the Dinner Menu so that we could essentially choose and design our own four-course degustation for $165 per person (5 choices per course).
Of course, a celebration should never go by without some sparkling bubbly!
For the night, we ordered a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne, France each. ($33 per glass)
We all know that once drinks are served, the exciting moment happens....SOURDOUGH BREAD!!! Seriously I don't know why I'm so addicted to these. There were four options served at Quay and my favourite was the black-sesame. Yes, we tried all four variations. Shards of sea salt came with the bread as well as some beautiful creamy butter - which was so light and soft to spread. M was impressed...
We also received a complimentary Amuse Bouche which tasted quite refreshing despite us blissfully unaware of what we were eating. I remember the wait staff explaning it but he talked too fast and so we missed it. :P
M's first dish was the Sashimi of Corner Inlet rock flathead, Tasmanian trumpeter, salt cured wild oyster cream, black lipped abalone, raw sea cabbage, nasturtiums, warrigals & periwinkles. We were told that the Trumpeter wasn't available on the night and so Kingfish was the alternative. The dish, although looked seemingly simple was quite deceivingly the opposite - as the varying elements within its compositon resembled utmost complexity and sophistication. According to M, it was a great entree with refreshing and clean flavours and naturally, a fabulous presentation!
My first entree, Congee of Northern Australian mud crab, fresh palm heart, egg yolk emulsion, was just as spectacular! It was texturally incredible with aromatic Asian flavours. Succulent crab meat sat amongst a silky smooth seafood-like broth and a creamy egg yolk floated lightly on the surface. It was a dish full of rich flavours and fragrance - which in my dictionary just means ABSOLUTE AWESOMENESS! I could totally slurp away unlimited bowls of this...if only dreams came true :P
M's second course was quite possibly one of the most beautiful dishes I had ever seen.
The Gentle braise prawns, octopus, diamond shell clams, heirloom radishes, pink turnips, baby squid, sea urchin was not only stunning in appearance, but even more sensational in taste. M gobbled the whole thing up within minutes, ooh-ing and ah-ing as he progressed through. The sauce was the magical ingredient to the dish as it was light yet full of flavour, which really helped the seafood combination shine through and blend seamlessly together in perfection. Seriously, look how beautiful that dish is...
Just when I was washed with envy over M's dish, my Gently poached southern rock lobster, hand caught Tasmanian squid, golden tapioca, lobster velvet defended itself aggressively, and proved to be my winning dish for the night. The lobster meat was deliriously fresh, succulent and sweet, and the pearls of golden tapioca was its match made in heaven. It was a dish full of outstanding flavours and textures and every bite ensured a smooth and flavoursome finish. I scraped the pretty bowl proud and clean.
We were offered some salad leaves to go with our third course, which I thought was quite nice!
M's Hapuka poached in creme fraiche, Tasmanian pink flesh potatoes, tender almonds, scorched beet leaves was also amazingly beautiful in presentation. He commented that the fish was well cooked and that the sauce, although rich and creamy, was well-proportioned and did not overpower the dish. I remember taking a spoonful of this and god, it was delicious! Then again, what hasn't been so far?
Nevertheless, I believe my Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil, stole the show in the third course round. As soon as it was served, the wait staff kindly advised me to take in the aroma of the dish before consuming, and he was right. As I bent low to sniff, as elegantly as possible, a light yet sweet fragrance lingered in the air. The sweet and caramelised crackling was seriously a stunner!
As I broke into it with my spoon, the sound of absolute crunchiness echoed back and when combined with the incredibly tender pork meat, it was just phenomenal. A textural seduction really. Too bad I wasn't a fan of the prunes...
AND THEN...the truly spectacular moment arrived.
It was time for dessert.
M had been looking forward to the Eight Texture Chocolate Cake since 6 months ago, when he made the booking (yes, that's the standard time for securing a booking at Quay). As the godly chocolate cake arrives, M and I were both camera-ready! The waitor gently poured hot chocolate sauce over the top, forming the eighth layer and within a magical few seconds, the solid disk melts to a drop in the centre. It was like watching a magic show - but with food? M was so excited that he got it all on video.
The eight textures, as found in the recipe provided by Masterchef Australia Online include:
- Chocolate Cake Base
- Chocolate Mousse
- Caramel, Vanilla, and Chocolate Ganache
- Chocolate and Hazelnut Dacquoise
- Milk Chocolate Praline Discs
- Chocolate Caramel Cream
- Dark Chocolate Top Disc
- Hot Chocolate Sauce
Holy moly, that's alot of chocolate!
On the whole, it did not disappoint. With eight layers of chocolatey goodness, you'd think the cake would be overpoweringly rich but instead, I found surprisingly light to eat. I'm not going to pretend that I could distinguish clearly all the layers and textures but who cares, it was so seductively smooth, delicious and addictive. A MUST for chocolate lovers.
And then, there stood the infamous Snow Egg. Jackfruit Snow Egg, to be precise.
It looked so beautiful and delicate that I was reluctant to tap the egg...but to miss out on tasting this little beauty was also a crime. And so I cracked the white icing-sugar-coated shell open and unveiled dessert wonderland.
As Peter Gilmore loves to reinforce in his masterpieces, the textures of this dessert are simply magnificent! It was refreshing and wonderfully light yet constructed in the most complex manner one could imagine. The meringue egg white was soft and fluffy and melts deliciously in the mouth whilst the granita contrasts in its cold and fruity freshness.
It was an incredibly luscious dessert and one that would stay memorable with me forever.
Honestly, how does one even begin to sum up their experience at Quay? Or am I the only one who's at a loss for words.
The experience was truly grand and exceptional. I was blown away by the exquisite attention paid to each and every dish served. Every bite was a delightful exploration of beautiful textures and to enjoy this experience with the iconic Sydney Harbour as the backdrop, was truly too good to be true.
Service was also beyond attentive as the wait staff constantly checked in on us and kindly explained all the dishes in every course.
It was the perfect night.
Thank you so much M for giving me the most memorable birthday to date.
Overseas Passenger Terminal
The Rocks, Sydney 2000
Labels: Fine Dining, Modern Australian