Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Sepia, CBD

It's 3 and a half years since ex-Tetsuya head chef Martin Benn colaborated with George Costi from De Costi Seafoods to form Sepia. It's evidently a match made in heaven; Benn's very Japanese grounding (being obviously a very seafood driven cuisine) and a reputable seafood entrepreneur in Costi. It has since gone to receive glowing reviews and has been at the forefront of Sydney's gastronomic attention.

It's quite an impressive although not entirely unique space. It seems like to would attract the corporate audience more so than any other with it's location at Sussex, the some what intrusive jazz soundtrack and a classic design that typifies any luxe olden day fine diner.

We went all out. I don't think there's anytime that I'm with A that we don't do a degustation. It's 160 for a degustation, 130 for a 4 course menu or you can go A la carte but it's not everyday that we find ourselves at Sepia so why not?

Sydney Rock Oysters 5 ea
The perfectly shucked oysters came with a good amount of brine and were tiny and salty and the lime and rice vinaigrette was balanced enough. My qualm, however, is the markup from what is around a dollar at de costi to 5 dollars which is probably the most dear you'll find around Sydney. 

We were fascinated by the perfectly formed sphere of butter that made its way onto our table. Bread was good; crusty outside and pillowy insides.

Amuse bouche
Our amuse was what I remembered to be a bonito accompanied well by a ginger and daikon bed.

"Sushi nigiri"
Sashimi Tuna, seared smoked ocean trout, poached banana prawn
The aforementioned attention on seafood shows. Our first main course is a celebration of freshness. Tuna, prawns and ocean trout slabs are topped with the puffed rice, toasted rice aspic, nori dust and soy and ginger gels. The pink gel domes are quite synonymous with the Sepia name, making an appearance in the past in their nori rolled Scallop dish, and brings a very piquant ginger flavour with out any of that heat.

Butter poached Port Lincoln squid, barley miso cured egg yolk, lemon, wild woodland sorrel
I was particularly entranced by the roll after roll of extremely tender squid 'noodles' stuck together to form a cylinder. Those little slivers of yellow are in fact lemon infused egg yolk contrary to me thinking that they were lemon zest initially and the lemon part is actually the dust around the dish. Fascinating.

New Zealand scampi cooked over Japanese charcoal, sudachi lime, shellfish mousse, Japanese land seaweed
The scampi was very good but it was the shellfish mousse that was the hero with its pungent umami oomph.

Charcoal smoked freshwater eel, yuzu curd, toasted almonds, tapioca, licorice, watercress and nasturtium
The robust flavour of the eel was balanced well with just enough tart yuzu emulsion along with the faint sweetness of liquorice.

South Australian lamb, goat cheese and sake kuzu dumplings, fennel cream, black olive, miso vinagrette, fennel molasses
The lamb was well cooked to a blushing medium rare but I kept thinking that the aniseedy flavour of the fennel almost, I say almost dominated the usually potent flavour of the lamb but not quite. The olive miso vinaigrette gave an all too familiar salty umami hit.

Seared rolled David Blackmore wagyu beef, chestnut mushroom, roasted red onion juice
wasabi, fried potato and kombu crumb, citrus soy
In my rare moment of gluttony (terrible joke I know) I started devouring it to only realise half way that I forgot to take a picture. Not a true blogger at heart. I had to borrow a picture from my dining partner because of that. The earthy smell was intoxicating and it was exactly the reason why I dug at without a second thought. The wagyu is beautifully marbled and simply put melt in your mouth. The accompaniments were good particularly the little earthy mushrooms but they were brought together extremely well by the splosh of nutty sweet red onion jus.

Saint Agur and mascarpone cheese, crystallised macadamia, celery cress, roasted chicory granita 15 supplement
Cheese lovers will cherish the next dish with its balanced spicy, fresh, nutty, toasty and tangy notes. You initially taste the celery leaves, which I absolutely loathe but then it then feels very appropriate as you start getting the semi strong bite from the blue cheese to which it melds quite well with. I did thoroughly enjoy it.

Sherbet, strawberry, chocolate
We were presented next with a strawberry dish accompanied by a crisp and fruity Lillet Rose from Bordeaux, France, complements from the chef. You've got to love surprises, thank you Sepia. It was a perfectly formed 'strawberry' made from a hardened strawberry sugar syrup. Crack it open and it reveals a slightly tangy strawberry flavoured sherbet. It was such a joy to eat and we just kept laughing all the way. The beginnings of our sugar high I guess.

Pre dessert
Our pre-desert came next, a simple affair of cooked apricot, ice cream and savoury sweet caramel underneath.

"Summer chocolate forest"
Soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond praline, rose geranium cream, sour cherry sorbet,
blueberry jellies, green tea, liqorice, chocolate twigs, crystallised fennel fronds
There's not a lot of joy greater than exploring through their signature Chocolate forest. There's so much going on, but befittingly so; there's a bewilderingly well considered layer after layer of assorted textures from the crisps and cracks all crowned with a lucid maroon quinelle of silky sour cherry sorbet. This is a Sydney icon that needs to be enjoyed and revered by everybody. 

Blueberry, vanilla caramel, brick pastry, blueberry jelly, cinnamon custard, candied orange zest, sugared almonds
frozen creme fraiche
I absolutely adored this dish. They kindly offered to substitute the Chocolate forest with a dish of my choosing because I've had it before and so I chose one randomly. Luck seems to be on my side because it looks like I choose the right one. It came smoking presumably from the preparation method of the caramel and again, the myriad of textures and flavours is jumping at you but they all work.

Japanese Stones 32
Surprisingly not on the menu, we went ahead and asked additionally for their 'other' famous dessert: the Japanese stones. How can I not after watching the 17 and a half minute fast forwarded process earlier. It's very labour intensive as you can see and there's a surprise inside every one of them. You might get the seasonally appropriate gooey sour cherry or passionfruit or chocolate fillings all wrapped around a charcoal white chocolate butter shell. The stones hide a yuzu jelly in the middle with a dusting of violet sand and green tea moss. Unlike the previous desserts which can get a tad complicated, it's visual simplicity is remarkable and it's just undeniably beautiful.

It's not the first time I went to Sepia. I think it was a year and a half ago before it received it's third hat in 2012 that I first tried Sepia and since then, the menu has changed substantially. It's exciting what they have going on and besides their highly raved Chocolate Forest that I don't think should ever be removed and their spanner crab risotto on the A la Carte, everything else is different. There's so much innovation going on and it's really evident on their Saturday's degustation where every dish is different to the previous week.

A Japanese-like respect for presentation and elegance in flavour, imagination and fun meeting control and restraint and the use of molecular gastronomy so subtle that it's to only lift ideas rather than dominate ingredients with its spectacle; this is the epitome of what Sydney fine dining has to offer. They're at the top of their game but I believe they can go even higher. 

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Everything looks so delightful! Especially that strawberry - it has won my heart too :D I've heard great things about the pebbles, and it indeed looks like a consuming task to make!

I loved Sepia when I went for my birthday early december. There are a few different dishes but that strawberry dessert looks amazing. I thought it was a real strawberry!! It fooled me.

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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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