Thursday, December 15, 2011

FOOD-OUT: Quay, Sydney

I've been so very excited to blog about our visit to Quay. Ranked this year as Number 26 in the world according to the S.Pelligrino awards, it certainly had a reputation to live up to.

When we first arrived to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary, the first thing that stood out to me were the lovely, lush, deep royal purple carpets. If first impressions count, this certainly did the job as it was the first thing that stood out to me, even before the view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

I was quite taken aback when all the male staff were suited up nicely, with ties and coats, whereas The Husband was in jeans and a polo tee, and I in my walking Ipanema sandals. I first had a sense that our serving waitress was a bit uppity / harumph-y/ atas, but it could have been just me being a bit more self-conscious. Imagine my delight when this other customer rocks up in a big hoodie and shorts. Anyway, all was well with our serving waitress when I started talking about our passion for food.

On with the food. As it was our last day in Sydney, we were starting to feel guilty, over-indulgent and poor. After some discussion, we decided that we would save AUD150 and opted to have the 4-course meal instead of the degustation. As we are both avid 'halfies', it was pretty close to the degustation anyway. 

The bread was served after a couple of courses. Three varieties of sourdough were offered; we both opted for the sunflower seed and polenta. I normally like my bread served warm, but it was great despite it not being warm - the bread was soft with a nice crunch to the crust, and the butter was wonderfully served at room temperature - yum yum yum!!!!

Amuse Bouche of Smoked Eggplant Cream, Dashi Jelly and Tuna Sashimi

I really liked this. I liked how the dashi jelly slid down my throat with its flavour. Hehehh - I likened this to the Smoked Eggplant being a water slide, the dashi jelly as the rubber mat, and the sashimi sitting on top of the rubber mat, sliding down the abyss... *drool*

Poached native freshwater marron, young almonds, bergamot marmalade, pomelo grapefruit, green mango, elder, chamomile

What was interesting about this dish was that the lunch menu serves the marron poached, but the tasting menu serves it raw, but with identical accompaniments. Hmmm... 
Also, the menu online noted that the marron is served with pomelo, however on the day we were informed that it would be served with grapefruit.

Honestly I reckon it probably tastes better with the grapefruit - the sourness and bitterness of the grapefruit really lifted the dish. And the marmalade with the marron - ooooh yummy!!!!

  Sashimi of blue mackerel, smoked eel flowers, sea scallops, pickled apple, nasturtiums

This was nice and pleasant; the fish and scallop were certainly fresh as expected, but I didn't feel it was anything too spectacular - I didn't quite get how the flavours worked together to create anything outstanding.

 Slow cooked coturnix quail breast, stone ground semolina enriched with Alba truffle butter, buckwheat, farro, walnuts, pumpernickel, malt [in current Tasting Menu]

Now this I liked - the bits and bobs atop the quail breast just made it all so earthy, in a tasty way.

 Gentle braise of black lipped abalone, rare breed pig belly, shiitake, warrigal greens, ginger milk curd, earth & sea consommé

This was really, really tasty. We both really enjoyed this course, however it really just tasted like a dish you get at a really high-end Chinese restaurant, nothing extraordinary. 

 David Blackmore's full blood Wagyu, bitter chocolate black pudding, oxtail consommé [in current Tasting Menu]

I was thrilled when we were informed that the wagyu would be available as a course, with an additional $10 charge. It is a dish in the current Degustation, but not mentioned anywhere in the lunch menu. It was a no-brainer decision - I was keen to try Quay's version of Blackmore's Wagyu, after having tried Marque's. I always enjoy a good piece of steak, and today was no different. The Wagyu, with a Grade 9+ marbling, can only have good feedback. I don't know if I would have been much more impressed if the consomme and black pudding were a little more intense in flavour. But then again, would it detract from the flavour of the beef? Hmmm..... 
Anyway, on a different note, you see the crispy, crunchy looking bits and bobs on top of my leaning piece of steak? They went well with the beef, no doubt, but I reckon if I ate the Wagyu with the bits and bobs right after having the quail with its bits and bobs, it'd be a  bit same old same old.

Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil

This was the piece de resistance for me. The dish of the day. The tenderness of the pork, with the sticky crunchy texture of the maltose crackling, and the sweetness of the prunes, simply put a smile on my face the entire duration of my course. The Husband's first remark when the dish was placed in front of him was about how fragrant it smelled. Yum-yum-yummo!

Ewe's milk ice-cream, caramel, roasted walnuts, prune, Pedro Ximénez , chocolate bark, pulled toffee, vanilla milk skin

I think the thing that makes this dish pretty special is the various textures - the thinness of the vanilla milk skin, the sticky-chewiness of the pulled toffee, the crunch in the walnuts, etc etc... very enjoyable dessert without it being sickeningly sweet.
Nectarine Snow Egg

People have talked about this Snow Egg since the Masterchef final in 2010 that it's become almost legendary. I didn't watch the finals last year, but came to know that Callum and Adam had to recreate a guava Snow Egg. Well, we were none the wiser at lunch when we saw nectarine on the menu, so we weren't surprised nor disappointed.

When the dish was presented, it really was pretty as a picture.To me, out of all the dishes, Peter Gilmore's philosophy of "Food inspired by Nature" was most expressed in this. I think what made the experience just that little more special was the anticipation about what was inside the egg. So here's just a spoiler alert if you want to keep that part special - stop reading now!

The 'egg' sits on top of a nectarine granita, and right at the bottom some creamy goodness(Can't remember what it was). The granita was (as cliche as it may sound) as soft as snow. I really liked the flavour of the nectarine - it was incredibly refreshing and light. 

So one crack of the 'shell' reveals a soft meringue 'egg white', and an oozing yolk. 

Within the snow egg...

The flavour isn't particularly intense, but it was very pleasant. The execution, presentation and textures of this dish was certainly the selling point. 

Overall, I was incredibly pleased with our 3 hours spent overlooking the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, sipping on great cocktails and wines, enjoying a super-delicious meal. Okay - that was the "duhh!" statement of the year; but I'd definitely be recommending this experience to friends. Compared to other three-hatted restaurants, it wasn't too terribly expensive. So jump onboard, friends! Just make sure you book ahead - booking 6 months ahead only managed to get us a table on a Tuesday afternoon!

Ooh - 'petit fours' last but certainly not at all the least - Happy Anniversary, my darling!

Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal,
5 Hickson Road, The Rocks, NSW
 Ph: (02) 9251 5600

Quay on Urbanspoon


  1. OMG you have a food blog!! Why didn't you tell me this earlier?! Anyway, awwww... What a sweet ending to a lovely post. Vera you're such a good food writer!! Fantastic review, I really enjoyed reading every word of it! You really have an ability to take the reader from the computer to the dining table with you really well. Very engaging, no wonder you're a speech therapist hehe! Also, nice blurb in your "About Me" profile. Looking forward to more of your posts now, (i.e. Marque, Porteno and all your other foodie trip adventures in Sydney). Woo-hoo! =DDD

  2. Hahhaha thanks!

    It's not really a specially designated FOOD BLOG lah (Not so hardcore - haha!) but rather my blog about different stuff. But writing about food is SO MUCH easier than writing about my devotions or thought-provoking issues!! It's also a lot about where I can bring my puppy to, around Melbourne. so yeah - heaps of bits and bobs!

  3. All the yummy food....

  4. Yeah - and that's just ONE meal okay! :P