Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Restaurant Arras, Sydney

Arras Petit fours tray. The one sound that reduces grown men and women to hysterical, excitable children again. I didn't imagine that was how I would of reacted, but little did I know. Determined to try it, I have been continously roaming the internet weeks before, trying to find Arra's opening date to no avail. It seems nearly all hope was lost as the website updates about the opening kept being push back and back, but as soon as I discovered it was opened, I launched straight into a reservation.

There is an air of enthusiastic buzz as you enter into the newly refurbished restaurant with the wacky fluorescent painted walls, plush chairs and an aperitif table that looks like it came out of a Dr Seuss creation in contrast to the suited up, somewhat stoic front house staff and white linen table cloths. Contemporary modern chic meets traditional fine diner. You sit down but you can't help but admire how magical the transformation feels, take away the tables and replace the waiters with the cast of children's Macdonalds and you can host the best damn party any rich child is ever going to experience. With an environment like this, you know it's going to be a fun lunch. Admittedly there were fewer other diners than I would of liked, but that soon wasn't a problem.

Bloody brilliant bread. Unintentional alliteration aside, the description is the best I can put it. They were all fresh baked, warm and crunch, with soft and fluffy interiors that we were advised to just go caveman all over using our fingers. Multiple assortments of different sourdough as well as takes on British staples come out in the form of breads. Caraway seed was interesting and nutty, Happy Goblin beer bread is bread made from British 'happy goblin' beer. but my favourite was by far the onion sourdough which was distinctively oniony. It wasn't the harsh, raw type of flavour, but the slow caramelised, mellow and heartwarming flavour associated with a hearty onion soup. As good as the bread was, after 5 servings of the bread, you really begin regretting asking for more. But so good.

Amuse Bouche
A very refreshing, produce driven way to start off what's to come, the watermelon and pomegranate salad was super fresh and sweet, dressed up with little dots of cream. The onion was a tad overpowering in its harshness but it wasn't enough to spoil the excitement of what is to come. 

Snow Crab San Choi Bow
The crab san choy bow was zingy and punchy, the freshness is really quite welcome on a late spring day. Balls of carrots met perfectly together with the sweet generous shavings of Alaskan king crab. As tempted as I was to use my hands, we were advised not to later on after finding out how juicy it was.

Nettle tartar with quail egg and garnishes
Reminds me a lot like the traditonal steak tartare, this was one of my favourite dishes of the day. The risotto in place of the usual raw steak was perfectly al dente with a heartwarming flavour. Initially uncertain about how a raw quail egg would taste, mixing it through the residual heat of the risotto is enough to result in a gorgeously creamy sauce. Fried pieces of capers were well at home giving that necessary salty kick.

King George Whiting, cucumber, vermouth and broad bean
Little dots of pea puree were a sight to behold, and the fish, soft and deliciously cooked with the slightest bit of crispy skin, but as far as I'm concerned, that broad bean jelly won me over. It resembling an embryo didn't do much to invite the taste buds but it certainly interested me. A well balanced tart vermouth butter sauce was poured at our table and that's always exciting.

Milk-cooked pork belly, whey puree and cracklings
The pork belly was succulent and despite not liking pork, it won me over. I was told there were 3 different types of crackling: pork brittle made with sugar, pork crackling made into dust and pork crackling wizzed up with whey and they all gave out very different textures, with the brittle coming out with a resounding crunch.
Halfway through, you really start feeling that bread come in. Whoever says you leave hungry after fine dining has a stomach capacity I envy.

Marinated squid artichoke, scallop and apple
I. Love. Scallops. 2 plump ones were served and these were perfectly cooked, seared on the outside and yet opaque in the middle and were sweet and yummy. Apples in here gave it a real sweetness and balancing acidity. But underneath were the most thinnest ribbons of squid you'll find, tender beyond belief and really made a superb dish sing even louder.

Roast lamb saddle, aubergine, salsify and cardamon.
Plating of this was extremely generous, hearty with very earthy flavours. Salsify was unlike any vegetable I've eaten, a crunchy sinewy texture, with an almost seafoody, oysterie flavour? It's really playing with my mind. I didn't really liked the aubergine, had an odd texture whole, but the mashed one underneath reminds me a lot like eggplant and that was delightful. What I really do adore though, is that two beautiful cuts of lamb, the saddle juicy,  tender and deliciously marbled and the lollipop rib of lamb fall off the bone and scrumptiously salty.  

Pistachio and Pineau Trifle
A very cool take on the traditional trifle, this one comes deconstructed and ready for further taking apart. It was a real joy trying every single ingredient separately and then trying all the combinations, each bite yielding something new and exciting. The pistachio sponge was too dense for my liking but it had a definate pistachioey taste. But the multiple forms that the strawberry took was really something to behold. The Pineau macerated strawberries were superb, juicy, and ripe yet still retaining a bite, the tart pineau melding thoughtfully together reinforced by the SKINLESS grapes. It's an odd touch but I like it. Strawberry jelly was incredibly soft and yielding but held its shape, the strawberry 'skin' was a lot like fruit rollups, but whole lot less chewy and more so a melt in your tongue sensation was delightful and the strawberry sorbet had a clarity of fresh strawberry flavour.

White goats cheese, white asparagus and white chocolate
White asparagus in a dessert? But then again, if there were a time to try new things, it would be now. This dish was a textural marvel, you get that distinctive white chocolate in that sauce, a creamy white goats cheese ice cream, and that smooth asparagus cheesecake. I can't be quite sure, the asparagus flavour was almost undetectable. Odd flavours but they work! I can't quite decided whether I like the inclusion of the thyme, it's interesting but sorta feels misplaced and unnecessary.

We were given fluorescent trays, bewildering it might seem, but I already knew what they were for. The famous Arras petit four tray comes out shortly after and it took all my restraint to quell the excitement. This is the stuff of childhood dreams. "Are these all hand made?" was my question. "Why of course" was the response. You're invited to take as many as you'd like. Chocolate brownies dipped in marshmellows, strawberry chocolates, chocolate truffles in an assortment of flavours, home made lollipops, friands, home made ice cream cones, chocolate blocks of all types, honeycomb, lavender ganache, peanut brittle, jellies, liquorish snakes, caramel crunchy nuts, mini jafa cakes, it goes on and on and on. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Contemporary takes on traditional classics and well executed food make Arras a lot of fun and a thrilling ride from start to finish. Only certain front house staff were warm at times but all were consistently professional. Serving portions are generous, and it is probably the best bread I've had so far at a fine diner. Arras food is innovative and exciting and I can't wait till my next visit here.

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Glad to see the food still looks great but its popularity with foodies doesn't seem to have increased despite the "better" location.

@ Joey. You're right. The pictures don't do them justice. It's really quite sad, it's an interesting place, the food is beautiful and the interior is quite quirky, definitely worth a visit for any foodie.

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No, we aren't the most amazing gastronomes or chefs. Heck, half our team doesn't even know how to cook... well. However, what we really love is eating. And lots of it. We enjoy that occasional freebie, filling up that craving for a midnight snack and finding a 20 in our pockets that we thought we never had, and using that as an excuse to go out eating. As we battle the ongoing war on uni student poverty, we'll bring you the most swoon worthy recounts of our latest foodie adventures.

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