Bianca: Who would think, in what would appear to be an unassuming Paddington house, lies possibly one of the finest French restaurants in Sydney. Following on from Guillaume’s lauded run at Bennelong’s Opera House, Guillaume oozes sophistication and old world French charm. But get in quick with a recent decision to close on December 30th you don’t have long.
Service was warm yet unobtrusive, however there was an element of crisp stuffiness that pervaded the whole restaurant.
We had two choices for our lunch – the degustation consisting of over 8 courses at $185 or the 4 course A La Carte at $150. Not wanting to miss out on my desired ‘choices’ we opted for the four courser.
Not pictured is the bread and butter, yes usually my favourite thing after dessert… With a choice between four different types of small Iggys bread rolls and a generous pat of salted butter. I do like the option of adding salt at my discretion and there was nary a salt shaker in sight.
Onto the first course and MJ went with the Rangers Valley Wagyu Tartare – w/oysters, mushroom.
I was intrigued by the sound of the Pea Soup –w/mud crab, cucumber and tarragon and greatly enjoyed the spectacle of the waiter pouring the pea soup element before me. I had no preconceived notions about what I was going to eat. The pea soup was cold, which did surprise me, I’ve never been one for cold soups, gazpacho etc, so it wasn’t entirely to my tastes. But it was essentially pure ‘pea essence’ (Don’t read too much into that phrase), no lumps but pure vibrant flavour. The crab added some sweetness but where this dish succeeded was in the varying textures and temperatures. With dashes of cream, peas, cubed fried bread, shaved cucumber and tarragon leaves.
MJ’s second course would have taken out the title if this was a beauty contest, his Sea Urchin –w/Moreton bay bug, clams, prawns and corn was a striking sight when it hit the table.
I think I was mainly drawn to the title of the dish more than anything, the Hens of the Woods –w/truffle, oeuf mollet and potatoes. Oeuf mollet you ask? Simply, boiled egg. I had to google that one before I ordered, just in case. This was my second favourite dish from my meal at my Guillaume. Put simply, it was flawless. Meaty pieces of mushroom, sitting atop a creamy sauce with generous smatterings of truffle. Once you broke open the yolk it created a luxurious and rich sauce – offset by the crispy layered potato log.
I look at most courses as the ‘stuff in the way’ before dessert, with most mains lacking the playfulness and whimsical aspects that entrees and desserts are usually afforded. MJ’s choice of the Tajima Wagyu Beef – w/cabbage, turnip and capers was a strong selection. The beef, tender, cooked perfectly medium rare.
My first choice would probably have been the beef but in the interest of diversity I opted for the Duck – w/pear, endive, carrot and honey. In essence this was a strong and tasty dish. Just lacking any real wow factor, the duck was cooked well, with a verifiable crisp skin. The pear still had a bit of bite and added some tartness to the dish.
Imagine my surprise when two small ceramic bowls with lids hit the table, both tops lifted to reveal the most decadent Mashed potatoes I’ve come across. I even shocked myself with the fact I could only manage a few bites. It’s seriously rich.
Reaching a level it was now time for the final and most anticipated course, dessert. Being the generous sport I am, MJ had the first pick and went with the Valrhona Chocolate –w/ hazelnut, date and banyuls. The jealousy was high, consisting of chocolate mousse, hazelnut cream, chocolate shards and a chocolate crumb.
And for myself, the Passionfruit soufflé –w/crème anglaise and passionfruit ice cream. I had the exact same dish at EST a few weeks prior so it was interesting to see just how well they stacked up to each-other. The soufflé was light and airy, the crème anglaise amplified the creaminess of the soufflé so I preferred that touch. And Guillaume just pipped Est at the post with their ice-cream, it was slightly more tart and acidic which I preferred.
By this time we were well and truly stuffed but one cannot turn down Petit fours, it’s just plain rude! I like the fact you could choose your own from the selection on offer.
And so 3 and a half hours later our meal had come to an end, the food was executed well and a great indication of modern French cuisine but it was hardly innovative.
On our way out, I was handed a small brioche loaf, sometimes it pays to be a lady… But with an impending detox, I handed that carb hand grenade over to MJ.