Alex: Planning our dining experience at Bennelong felt like it was a long time in the making! We had obviously seen a lot of our friends put up posts and instagram shots of the sausage roll and the cheese toastie but at that stage we hadn’t really seen much of the a la carte ‘restaurant’ menu showcased. So Bianca’s birthday ended up being a suitable excuse for us to visit Bennelong.
Perhaps this is me being picky but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t underwhelmed by the décor of the dining room. For a restaurant boasting a superb location, celebrity chef and fine-dining menu, the ambience, in my opion, didnt match up. We felt the décor was quite antiquated resulting in a somewhat dull ambience. No doubt that the view speaks for itself so I’ll stop carrying on. We did dine here during the day so perhaps with mood lighting the “70’s australian vibe” would work much better. I did indeed take special notice to the amazing Tom Dixon melt lamps.
The practically 360 degree glass windows aided in enveloping the room with natural light, making my job taking photos that much easier.
Anyways, after perusing the menu and deciding on the three courses, instead of the two. (Three courses at $130 and two at $100) we ordered some mocktails and we were ready to go!
Some fresh bread with the option of warm butter and some salt, always a welcome addition.
Our entrees made a somewhat quick arrival to the table and just from what I could see it was evident that the dishes represented high quality dining and technique which you would expect from a restaurant of that calibre.
Mr M, Vanessa’s husband ordered the Grilled Lady Elliot Island bug, organic turnips, radishes, XO sauce. The first of the entrees. A beautiful dish that oozed elegance. Any angle that you looked at it it just remained simply stunning. The flavours of the dish were simple but strong in its delivery which I believe is something that is important when doing fine dining food.
As an entree, Vanessa and Biancs both ordered the Single origin wheat noodles, smoked pork, line caught squid, peanuts, sesame. There were two overwhelming features of this dish that were worth a mention. Firstly, the combination of peanuts and sesame had an undeniably distinct taste that dominated the dish. So if you are a fan of these two elements, you will be a very happy diner. The second notable feature of the dish was the texture. I had initially confused the line caught squid for the wheat noodles, so was taken aback at first by the texture. The squid had nearly no fish tones at all and is quite soft in texture, hence the confusion with the noodles. The smoked pork was probably the weakest element adding no clear value to the overall taste of the dish.
For my entree I ordered something that normally wouldn’t cross my mind. The seared scallops. The cream sauce tasted as if there was an addition of a white wine reduction. The scallops were all cooked superbly, and I think I might even go as far to say they were some of the best I’ve ever eaten.
The waiters were swift in clearing the table and were clearly trained to offer a very high level of service, however we did unfortunately find that hopefully just on that day they were not particularly friendly and operated in an almost robot-like manner.
Mains began to arrive and Vanessa went with the Grass fed veal fillet, smoked parsnip, Swiss brown mushrooms, hazelnuts. This was probably one of the more substantial dishes of the day and certainly rich in flavour. The veal was cooked to absolute perfection and was complimented well by the mushrooms and parsnips. The addition of hazelnuts a perfectly crunchy element to the dish that heighten the palate away from the strong veal
Mine and Manny’s mains were the Macleay Valley Suckling pig, heritage apples, cippolini onions, black garlic, smoky juices. I was actually a little suprised at how small the serving was for a main. I do understand that a suckling pig is generally quite rich, so perhaps that is why. The flavours all balanced very well, and I loved the crunch of the apples which similarly mirrored that of the crispy skin.
I think after hearing so much about the desserts, this is what we were waiting for the whole day! And thankfully, for the most part, they lived up to there expectations!
Strawberries and Cream was the first dressert of choice. Although each flavour of this dish combined in perfect harmony, it was let down slightly on the visual side. Unfortunately, the elements did not hold their form resulting in the dessert looking like something you might order in your local family-friendly bistro, rather than a fine dining establishment.
Number 2 of desserts was the Cherry jam lamington. Simply perfect. A few found it to be a little too rich, but I thought it was balanced well with the white chocolate flakes.
The pavlova has now become more of a work of art than anything else. It represents one of Sydney’s most architecturally renowned icons and Peter Gilmore has nailed it on the head. This was quite a light rendition of a pavlova, the filling, a stewed rhubarb tasted rather odd at first. However, it became more cohesive with each bite.
Chocolate cake from across the water. I sort of feel like I don’t need to write about this because surely we all know how utterly amazing it is. 8 different textures of chocolate all just as welcome as the next. And a perfect ‘birthday cake’ for Bianc.
Now enjoy some cake porn shots.
Until next time!