Bianca: We hardly need an excuse to eat out these days, bought a new pair of shoes? Let’s celebrate with dinner…Bought the most fantastical croissant from that new bakery? Celebrate with a 2 hour brunch. But Alex’s 21st birthday a few weeks back, deserved some sort of special factor and so we booked ourselves in for a leisurely long lunch at Quay Restaurant.
Alex enjoys the finer things in life and he hardly needs an excuse to put on his fuddy dudds and dress up. He sometimes confuses his life for that of Kardashian without the burgeoning bank account.
We were warmly greeted and shown to our table, taking one for the team, I sat directly opposite the huge berthed Princess cruise liner obstructing my view of virtually everything. Staff were apologetic but we were aware there was to be a ship in the harbour when we booked. Alex on the other hand had uninterrupted views over the Rocks and Harbour Bridge. If that’s not sisterly love I don’t know what is.
We were a little dusty after Alex’s 21st extravaganza at Bar Luca the night before and were not in fighting condition for a lengthy degustation. Opting instead for the more manageable four courses at $175.
Beginning our meal with an amuse bouche consisting of Ewes Milk Cream and a freeze dried substance that was rattled off to quickly for me to catch. Eaten with delicate mother of pearl place settings. I managed to keep my kleptomania in check that day.
A generous pat of butter alongside two thick slices of bread and salt laden with mixed herbs were placed on the table. The butter was warm and easily spreadable and best of all, warm bread. Big ticks right there.
Course 1 – Alex with an increasing interest in Sashimi and fish had the Sashimi of south coast crayfish, squash seeds, cultured cream, tapioca, white cucumber, green almonds. A beautifully presented and refreshingly delicate, light dish with subtle bursts of salty hits. The sweetness of the crayfish was offset with the sour notes of the cream.
The Mud Crab Congee tasted like the best $40 chicken noodle soup you’ve ever eaten in your life! With a strong umami hit and a faint mellifluousness from the crab. The egg yolk emulsion adorning the dish when mixed in with the congee, created a velvety creaminess.
Course 2 – Alex was again on to a winner with the Slow braised quail, brioche, grains, hazelnuts, coco button mushrooms. Texturally this was the most interesting dish of the day with puffed farro, quinoa and hazelnuts providing a fantastic crunch to eat bite. I found the quail rather understated and would almost say it took the backseat in the flavour stakes.
I was intrigued by the XO XO, being somewhat familiar with the spicy Hong Kong sauce thanks in part to dining at Kylie Kwong’s Billy Kwong several times. The menu description leaves a large margin for interpretation and when I enquired, I was informed it was in fact a seafood dish. With generous juicy nuggets of lobster and scallops. I wasn’t troubled by the fishy(ness) as much as Alex but this is definitely a bold and heavy hitting dish.
Course 3 – This time there was to be no FOMO, I was torn between the duck and the wagyu but ultimately Alex and I both went with the Blackmore wagyu, black lentil miso, black garlic, coco button mushrooms. In one word? Flawless. Is it redundant to describe a beef dish as meaty and beefy? The flavour profile was intense, richness from the beef and black garlic puree. The Blackmore wagyu was a gorgeous medium rare. We were now onto Alex’s favourite bit of any meal, dessert.
Course 4 – Dessert wasn’t filled with the usual consternation due to a recent visit to Bennelong. Had I not experienced the Eight textured Chocolate Cake there it most definitely would have made an appearance. We instead chose to share the ethereal White Nectarine Snow Egg. Yes this is perhaps Quay’s most revered dish but sometimes hype and expectations can be a curse. It has a lot going for it, multiple textures and temperatures. A sharp white nectarine granita acts as a virtual fluffy pillow supporting the ‘egg’, a nectarine ice-cream enclosed within a meringue. Each bite was interesting and different from the last and it was a light and refreshing way to end the four courses. It just didn’t blow me away like I was expecting it to.
And our final dish of the day, a selection of cheese, raisin and walnut sourdough. No beating around the bush here, I was well and truly at a level by this point and we nary made a dent in the cheese and crackers. We had a strong blue, a cheddar and a sheep’s milk cheese. I have a feeling fellow FFS’aker Vanessa would have been impressed with the cracker to cheese ratio.
All in all a really memorable meal at Quay, we had dined at Altitude Restaurant at the Shangri-la a few days before and in terms of food, service and value for money I have to say Altitude pip Quay at the post. But just slightly.
Photos by Alex