Bring in the heritage listed site, add a few decorated columns here and there, an elegant crystal chandelier or two, suit up the waiters, bring in white linen then get some candle and flower action going on and you have est. And they really know how to throw a special dinner. We came up through the elevator to be greeted by a fully dressed coloniser playing the drums. It seems to me from past experiences that est. is the penultimate in the traditional fine dining experience, along with the negatives and positives of that.
I should really invest in a better camera soon but my trusted Olympus has never failed me... until that day because I forgot to charge it. So that was my fault. I thank A for my pictures tonight, without which, you would be currently looking at a boring bunch of words. Now it's a boring bunch of words with pictures! But i'd like to think that I write half decently right?
We started off with a warm very colonial damper which is denser than usual bread but still very delicious.
|wallaby tail consommé, native pepper berry|
In the description that came alone with this it said "The tail of the forest kangaroo in particular makes a soup which, both in richness and in flavour, is far superior to any ox-tail soup ever tasted"- Edward Abbott 1864. I couldn't agree more, it by far the best tasting consommé I've ever had. It had heady notes of slight gameyness, perfectly seasoned and was well balanced in flavour. The wallaby tails similarly were just as perfect; marvellously tender with the residual consommé heat finishing it off. Add in pepper berries, little baby turnips all prettily arranged and it would seem like the Australian Bear Grylls collided with a modern kitchen.
|sydney cove shellfish|
The oysters here were a real stand out. They say the bigger the better. I say good things come in small packages. These were fresh, salty, plump just as a proper oyster should be. It pains me seeing A just 'drink' the oyster because she loathes them, her loss. Clams were just as good, dressed in a tart sauce and echoed freshness again.
|collared sydney harbour whiting, stewed cabbage, savory|
Afterwoods a 2nd course of whiting was presented to us. Honestly it was quite average. Yes, the simplicity is meant to be a reflection on the time period, however accuracy shouldn't come at the cost of flavour and excitement, especially at a high end restaurant.
|roast quail, melted butter sauce, warrigal greens|
Everyone gets a whole quail to themselves! And who says you leave fine dining hungry. Quails on the other hand, were a little more exciting, mainly because I love anything with a beurre blanc; with the tartness offsetting the richness. I thought it was a pain having to take apart the quail and get between the bones being lazy and all. But no pain no gain and I thought the gain was quite a good trade off as the entire quail was terrifically well cooked to a medium and delicious.
|Trust me, these seats filled up quick|
Est. have mastered the whole table swoop. It's really quite a sight seeing 12 waiters come out at once and just place plates in front of ever diner at the same time. You won't see that anywhere else in Sydney. And it's the little things like that that make it special. For a table of 8, 8 waiters come out at once with dishes, then another 2 with accompaniments AT THE SAME TIME.
|rack of lamb and lamb sweetbreads, lily pilly jelly, stewed cucumbers, turnips|
A generous serving of lamb is presented to us afterwoods, well cooked to a medium rare although it was quite tough and you really had to knife at the thing to eat it. The inclusion of lily pilly jelly was quite interesting. I found that you can basically find these growing anywhere, but you really have to cook it down to reduce the bitterness. Well... it tastes like Fountain steak sauce.
|very good old fashioned boiled custard|
When I was eating it then, I just kept thinking about how disappointing simple it was. Now that I reflect back, I realise how ignorant I was; it's the most perfect boiled custard I've ever had. The simplicity highlights how well done it is, yielding to the spoon, just set and literally dissolves on your tongue. It was exceptionally balanced in sweetness and flavour with just enough liqueur underneath to give it a little kick and the toasted almonds provided a welcomed nuttiness and bite.
quickes cheddar, stilton, rum biscuits
I'm usually not a big fan of Stilton, or any blue cheese for that matter. I tried making a pie once using Stilton as the base sauce and even a tad little bit is very punchy. Don't get me wrong, I love cheese in general: a camembert fondue, a little shaving of parmesan on scrambled eggs, gruyere on onion soup, it's just blue cheese I dislike. I found out the secret to enjoying it is to ADD FRUIT. Yes i'm aware, I'm very much a cheese noob. The cheddar and stilton goes beautifully with the biscuits and grapes which I otherwise would of not enjoyed.
Jerusalem artichokes, anchovy toasts, watercress, radishes
Wait what... Savoury after sweet? And here I was expecting petit fours. Well these are the Colonial days after all, not that I'll pretend to know anything about it. I really wish I had a do over again with this dish. Really, really, really. A told me that apparently you're meant to eat the artichokes with the pickled onions. Why did I not think of that. Come to think of it, the artichokes were quite bland but would of paired beautifully with the incredibly tart pickled onions. I've never been a fan of radishes but the anchovy toasts were the perfect way to finish off the evening.
A did opt for matching wines but being a wine novice, I felt a lot of the flavours detracted from the over flavours of the food. A very amusingly compared to the lemon z liqueur paired with the custard to detergent. I very much agreed, so much so that the even couple beside us also agreed. She did enjoy the james squire 'chancer' golden ale though heh heh. I remember.
The Colonial Gastronomy dinner is certainly interesting and I really enjoyed the night, but a lot of that est. finesse with everything is lost; from your multiple delicate flavours to intricately plated dishes, flowers and all have gone missing. I guess I was just expecting too much. It's certainly made me glad food has evolved into the 21st century.
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