Mark Best himself opened the door and welcomed us into Marque, when we peeked through the glass door to see if the restaurant was already open, just before 6pm on Saturday. In an era when chefs are lifted to celebrity-status, I was pretty darn chuffed!
We were seated next to the window, right in the corner, which was as 'private' and 'secluded' one could get at Marque. The restaurant is smaller than I expected it to be; decor is somewhat minimalistic AKA the New York style.
Service was wonderful, with the wait staff being very helpful and friendly. I would've preferred if we had the same wait staff attend to us throughout the night, but I didn't have any complaints about the service.
Just a quick gripe about the bread - we both opted for the rye and beer bread; the flavour was interesting; I liked the butter, but our crust was burnt! We didn't bother telling the wait staff to request new bread, as we really weren't that hungry for dinner in the first place. The Hungry Excavator had raved and raved about the bread on his visit; so we will just consider that night as an off-day for bread.
It took us 3 courses to realise that our degustation was going to be mostly different to the one listed on their website. When we brought it up with our waiter, we were informed that at the end of the meal, we would be given a menu of tonight's courses to take home. It was actually quite exciting to not know what was going to be next; almost like opening up Christmas presents :)
Amuse Bouche- Goat's Curd with Beetroot and Pink Lady
This was a little nice light refreshing dish until I got a taste of the goat's curd right in the middle - then the flavour hits you! A delish starter, although I could not help but wonder how the Bonito with foie gras and olive truffle (the amuse bouche listed on the Marque website) would've tasted...
Almond Jelly with Blue Swimmer Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Sweet Corn & Avruga
Now THIS was in the tasting menu listed on their website, and one they should certainly keep on their menu! I have never tasted Blue Swimmer Crab as wonderful as that - cooked perfectly and so so sweet! The sweet corn really does smell and taste like crumbed/powdered popcorn, but I loved how everything was so light, so fresh- so enjoyable!!
Scallops with Asparagus, Yoghurt Whey and Togarashi
This, to me, unfortunately, was the let-down course of the night. It wasn't in any way awful, but I didn't feel it was too special, and it didn't look impressive ("Hey, who gave me an empty, dirty plate?!"). I liked the texture and the freshness of the hotate (scallop), but it was a wee bit too salty for me. I suppose I just didn't 'get' the dish - all it tasted to me, really were - thinly sliced raw asparagus, salty scallop sashimi, sprinkled with 'Furikake' (Japanese sprinkles) which you can buy from Asian Supermarkets. The yoghurt whey (or ?milk chip?) was an interesting addition, but it didn't particularly enhance or brought the whole dish together.
Dutch Cream Potato with Bone Marrow, Sea Urchin and Coffee
Eating this was the equivalent to sky-diving for my tastebuds. Thou shalt not look down upon eating a mere humble potato. The flavours of this dish had such intensity it is seriously making me salivate thinking about it. The flavour of the marrow just hits you, and the hint of sea urchin and coffee really added such depth to it. And potatoes can never do wrong.
Bar Cod with Polenta, Buddha's Hands, Witlof and Vadouvan
We both enjoyed this course, but we really could not shake of the memory of Malay aunties in the Malaysian pasar (market) frying fish coated and marinated in curry powder. We both felt that the only thing that really contributed to the fish was the Buddha's Hands (some lemon-like citrus fruit) paste. But I am probably biased as I am not exactly the biggest fan of witlof.
Muscovy Duck with Green Strawberries, Beer and Fennel
The duck was delicious! I really liked the texture of the meat - so moist and tender!! I was initially a bit puzzled by the green strawberries, but they did add another texture (somewhat crunchy) and flavour (sourness) to the duck.
Blackmore Grain-Fed Wagyu Sirloin with Beef Tendon, Wasabi and Fermented Vegetables
This was a dish found in the menu listed on their website, albeit with a small variation. Instead of 'spring peas', this night's wagyu was served with fermented vegetables. Honestly I don't recall eating anything that tasted fermented so it must have been pretty subtle. The wagyu - oh the wagyu - was delightful! The meat was sliced very thinly and placed raw on a warmed plate and placed under heating lamps, so it'd cook only so slightly. I liked how the oh-so-soft meat and crunchy veggies went together, with a hint of wasabi. Lovely, lovely dish. If I were a judge on Super-Iron-Masterchef and Marque was pitted against Quay and the core ingredient for the
episode challenge was Wagyu beef, I'd award the challenge to Marque.
Pre-dessert - Sauternes Custard
This was like creme caramel for adults! The Sauternes, a french sweet wine, really added an amazing kick to this pre-dessert course!
Chocolate with Malt, Banana, Coffee and Parsley
This was an O-M-G dish. When I first tasted it, it was like being reunited with a first love, who has grown up, travelled the world, and is now very classy and sophisticated. Malt always reminds me of Horlicks, a childhood novelty of mine, but this was coupled with (what I *think* is liquid nitrogen-fied) drops of banana, coffee, and parsley! Who would've thought parsley would taste so awesome in a dessert! I would've stood up, clapped and cheered "bravo! bravo!" if this had been a stage performance.
Petit Fours - Salted Caramel Chocolates, Lemon Drops and Bitter Bon Bons
When the petit fours were served, we were informed that they were meant to be eaten from one end of the plate to the other; each highlighting one of the four basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour and bitter - where's umami?!). The little birthday greeting was for the Husband's 30th.
Autographed menu - Hmm... would this be worth anything on eBay?
The waiter who attended to us most, managed to get Mark Best to sign a birthday greeting on the menu for us to take home at the end of the night, which we thought was pretty special.
But now we don't quite know what to do with it.
Overall, to me, there were some inconsistencies, when it came to the food- some parts of dinner were unimpressive to me (read: bread, scallops, cod) but the WOW parts certainly made up for it. I don't know when or IF our next visit may be, but we were certainly happy and satisfied with our experience at Marque - a great place to spend the evening celebrating a special birthday.
4/5 355 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW Ph: (+61) 2 9332 2225
Surry Hills NSW Ph: (+61) 2 9332 2225
Monday to Saturday from 6.30pm | Friday Lunch from 12pm