Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quay (Sydney) - ♕♕♕♕♕

 Peter Gilmore and his kitchen team are a proud bunch,  for they have been regularly featured in the Pellegrino’s Top Restaurants in the World, and it’s latest world ranking of #26 is not to be taken of lightly.   QUAY’s permanent 3 Hat status as awarded by the local Good Food Guide is also testament to its quality,  gradually taking over Japanese Chef run Tetsuya’s position as the best restaurant in Sydney, and on paper at least Australia’s no.1 restaurant…   The food was certainly good overall and even spectacular on certain dishes.    During this 2011 November visit,  my biggest gripe is not with the food’s cooking itself but the way our Tasting Menu was planned with too many overlapping elements. Goat Cheese, Tapiocas, Prune and Maltose made numerous presences throughout the night’s menu..  It happens though,  even at Michelin 3 Star “Caprice”  where dishes seem to carry the same components but more care next time please!   Surprises always come in all forms but that is Haute Cuisine .. 



Beautiful Scenery -
Matt Moran’s 2 Hatted Aria restaurant on the opposite Circular Quay ‘Toaster’ side,  also gets a decent view of this.  And in hindsight,  the food there was also quite decent just simpler.




Arrrgh…  Sydney Water -
Staff jokingly called this tap water as such,  though I thought in a derogatory way to our comfort.   Wonder if they carry some sophisticated Filtering system like Marque’s.  At least they are not charging me $5 so I can’t tell them off Smile with tongue out




A Pouilly Fume from Loire Valley, France to start off the evening….



This was surprisingly quite fruit driven for this region’s wine without the flinty mineral note I had come to expect.  I am no wine expert however, I never remember the Domaine names and just drink them as they come, it’s just an observation as Pouilly Fume is my favourite sauvignon producing region on average over the years.



Pickled Baby Turnips and Pearl Meat – Amuse Bouche
Reflects the naturalist cuisine approach using the best ingredients.. 
I thought this could be great as an appetiser,  but somehow seemed a little boring to create a bang.  ~  7/10


Sashimi of Blue Mackerel, Smoked eel flowers, Sea scallops,
Pickled apple, Nasturtiums, Tasmanian wasabi -
Both daikon and smoked eel were rolled into a flowery shape,  and also present are golden tapiocas pre-soaked in a seafood broth.   The Tasmanian wasabi is quite refreshing & probably a bit whiter than Shizuoka offerings from memory but more like Hokkaido ones after grating.  The Blue Mackerel from locally was surprisingly tasty and way better than Norwegian ones although the texture loses out to the best of the Japanese varieties when they’re at its freshest.  I really liked this dish together with the scallops.   My dining companions had mixed thoughts about this dish,   so as usual,  each to their own !   My tastebud is at best a small part of a larger statistics pool and therefore feel free to agree or digress as always!     ~  9/10




Salad of Rhubarb, Endive, Beetroot, Purple carrot, Rosa radish, Kohlrabi,
Goat's curd,  dehydrated Pomegranate molasses,  Violet -
This dish looked pretty like the Sydney Opera House and ate equally well as a salad dish,  with many purple colored veggies,  some slightly pickled, and a touch of goat’s cheese to bring out the flavours.   The pomegranate molasses dotted on the side with its crunchy texture and refreshing taste was certainly the key component to this successful dish.  Could eat this everyday ~  10/10




Gently poached Southern Rock Lobster,  Golden tapioca,  Shaved squid,  Lobster velvet -
A Signature dish at Quay. I can’t help notice the same golden tapioca being presented twice just from 2 courses ago,  and the texture and presentation was too close and slimey to the amuse bouche.   That is not the only overlapping scheme to be found on the night,  but by itself this was quite decent with the fresh raw seafood.  ~   7/10



Dark Rye and Sourdough Loaves -  with very prettily quenelled Butter
The bread is a bit boring from a World’s Top 50,  3 hatted restaurant.  Last but not least it is supplied externally by Brasserie Bread.   If you see this sort of bread basket in HK, you’ll be condemning the restaurant to death before you even began eating. Smile with tongue out   Although to be fair the breads were decent quality,  and strangely much more flavourful than the bread I ate at the Melbourne’s outlet Brasserie Bread  ~  6/10


Slow cooked Coturnix Quail Breast, Stone ground Semolina enriched with Alba truffle butter, Buckwheat,  Farro, Walnuts, Pumpernickel, Paratha, Malt -
I read through the list and can’t locate the Paratha bread.  I also could not detect any of the above mentioned Alba white truffle butter at even 0% aroma,  which should have been very apparent considering its strong scent.  Quite disappointed.  On the other hand,  the quail breast was cooked perfectly and adorned with crispy wheats and nuts.   Quite tasty but too single dimension by a 3 Hatted restaurant status ~  Taste wise  8/10,  Creativity wise 5/10




Confit of Milk fed Suffolk lamb,  Purple garlic,  Jerusalem artichokes, 
Sheep's milk curd,  Salt bush shoots,  Fennel pollen,  Pantelleria capers  -
The lamb was slow cooked to perfectly tender.   In my mind I questioned whether this UK Suffolk lamb was essential at all in a Sydney restaurant, as Australian or New Zealand lambs are of similar standards easily.   Unless it is French Pyrenees lamb,  US Colorado or UK Welsh lamb which are a smidgeon better from various tastings.     As a main course dish this was dismal in size and a little blahhh in terms of presentation.   Apart from the herbs not much was done to the sauces or plating essentials for a Top Australian restaurant on paper !   ~  6/10



Slow braised Berkshire pig jowl,  Maltose crackling,  Prunes, 
Cauliflower cream,  Perfumed with Prune kernel oil -
Suffered exactly as the dish above,  as the recipe sounded promising but probably a bit too simple as a main course.   This is one of Quay’s signature dishes and it tasted just great,  but that maltose skin was delectable but not necessarily good enough to replace a proper pork skin at all.   ~  6.9/10



White Nectarine Snow Egg -
This is apparently quite well known due to its coverage on Master Chef according to foodie friends but I haven’t watched a single episode of it at all.  So I can only judge as I encounter the grand master’s version!!   The recipe might look simple but that powdery icing sugar dust on the Maltose skin and poached meringue,  together with the seasonal Nectarine ice cream and granita outside was sensational.    The only problem?  The Maltose skin already made a presence above in a savoury pork jowl dish,  yet right onto the next course it is served again in a dessert course. Definitely not a blunder but carelessness?!        ~  9/10




Tasmanian Ewe's milk Ice-cream,  Caramel Macaron with Whipped Caramel, 
Roasted Walnuts,  Prune Puree,  Vanilla Milk Skin,  Pedro Ximénez ,  
Chocolate bark,  Pulled toffee Walnut praline chocolate shards
The milk skin was very interesting,  but this dessert is quite rich despite being quite balanced in taste,  also probably a bit too random in its plating to be precisely presented and neat.    ~   7/10




Petits Fours -
Hand rolled truffles, made from milk chocolate  (Tanariva 33%) and inside is a caramelize hazelnut. Outside, the other powdery one is made from caramelized white chocolate, organic coconut sugar. Another pearl one not available is made from a famous dark chocolate (Amedei Chuao 72%).  Great by itself but a little rich after the above milk course…  wouldn’t mind if it came with some fruitier ending courses.  But these were of amazing quality individually!    7/10





Espresso -
By locally famous Sydney’s Campos Coffee.  
Above average and as expected from a prime 3 Hatted dining location ..   8/10




Caffe Latte -
Also from the same Campos Coffee blend,  this was too foamy,  too hot




The Food quality has improved a lot from my past visit many years ago,
It started off very strong as the best dishes I liked were the Blue Mackerel and then the Salad with Pomegranate molasses…   but the main courses dropped off a bit until it recovered by dessert stage.    I have a feeling ordering A La Carte will be a better experience as Degustation courses here cannot be swapped around to other dishes.   And as a side note,  the service began rudely,  until it was rectified finally when we hinted at receiving bad service in other restaurants to the server involved.  I didn’t want to embarrass my fellow dining guests! 




Price:  AUD $220 + Wine
Ease of Access:   3/5 (7-8  mins walk from Circular Quay train station)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ -  ♕♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Lunch -
Tuesday to Friday  12:00pm to 2:30pm
Mon to Sunday   6:00pm to 10:00pm

Address:  Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney 2000
Ph:  9251 5600


  1. The only tasting menu that i truly loved was the one i had in vue de monde about three years ago. after that, no more of tasting menus. i prefer lunch options for some strange reason and no, price is not the reason.

    like you, i was happier with most of the lunches at caprice.

  2. i really like the look of that rhubarb dish! it wasnt there when i went but would have definitely ordered it! love the snow egg too! pity about the service, high end restaurants should have bad service.



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