The highly awarded Quay is easily one of the best and most prestigious restaurants in the country. This year it has been named both Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide restaurant of the year and Gourmet Traveller restaurant of the year. When I tried to book 6 months in advance for a Thursday night, they were fully booked. Luckily I was able to come on the Wednesday instead!
We went for the 8-course tasting menu, $220.
Sashimi of local lobster, bergamot, green almonds, pomelo, elder flowers
The raw lobster had a suprising umami characteristic to it and had a distinctly Japanese flavour. The carefully separated pomelo strands burst in the mouth, providing a clean contrast to the bitter-sweet bergamot marmalade. The green almonds were unusual: they had a sort of soft, non-crunchy texture. The dish as a whole was a nice little palate cleanser to prepare for the courses ahead.
Salad of preserved wild cherries, albino and chioggia beetroots, radish, creme fraiche, violets
The albino beetroots tasted much like regular beetroot, albeit slightly milder. The combination with boozy sour cherries and semi-frozen chunks of smooth, tart creme fraiche was certainly an interesting one. There was also a sweet beetroot puree, crispy paper-thin beetroot slices and some pieces of a hard, aerated beetroot coloured substance which had the texture of a crouton. Overall the salad was quite an inspiring presentation of a vegetable in different forms.
Line caught iki jime Tasmanian squid, squid ink custard, society garlic, pink turnips
This was probably my favourite dish of the night. Immaculately presented, it was a work of art on the plate. For something so obscure looking it was also a delightful shock to the tastebuds. I wasn’t expecting it to be warm, which was enough of a surprise on its own. The thin, translucent strips of squid were tender, buttery and savoury. The squid ink custard was silky smooth, rich and salty, complemented perfectly by the mild garlicky aroma of the society garlic flowers. Slightly crunchy raw turnip slices added visual interest and textural balance.
Smoked and confit pig cheek, shiitake, shaved scallops, Jerusalem artichoke leaves
The confit pig cheek was rich, fatty and gelatinous. The earthy mushrooms were a nice complement to the meatiness of the pork. The slightly sweet, crispy ‘leaves’ of Jerusalem artichoke were kind of like a simulated crackle, which can really only be described as culinary genius. It was unfortunate that the dish as a whole was quite greasy and the scallops got a little lost under the other flavours.
Hawksebury free range chicken cooked in Vin Jaune and cream, steamed brioche, egg yolk confit, Alba truffle
Chicken isn’t something you see often on the menu of fine dining establishments, so I was of course surprised to see it here. In previous posts I have dismissed chicken as being boring and overrated, which it often is, but this was not the case here. The poached chicken was incredibly moist and was strangely dense and firm in a way that I had never seen before. The slightly garlicky cream sauce and sticky egg were a good match for the tender chicken and were easily mopped up with the sweet, soft brioche. The truffle was quite mild and added a little something extra to the dish without being dominating.
Poached Rangers Valley beef, bitter chocolate black pudding, morel, ezekiel crumbs, shaved mushroom
The medallion of beef was fork-tender with a nice contrasting breadcrumb coating. The puffed grains atop the beef also added a nice texture. The meaty and rich black pudding sauce had just a hint of bitter chocolate, which was unexpectedly complementary. There was a surprise spinach leaf hidden under the beef, which was a nice touch.
Andalucia citrus and almonds
This consisted of lemony meringues, crunchy nougat, bergamot jam, almond ice cream, almond cake crumbs, almond tuilles and bits of frozen cream cheese. Each flavour and texture combined in harmony to complete this ‘citrus and almond’ dessert. I don’t think much else needs to be said here. It was amazing.
White nectarine snow egg
Any watcher of Masterchef will know of the snow egg: that delicate concoction with the potential to foil even the most determined amateur cooks. A soft ice cream ‘yolk’ is encased in a poached meringue ‘white’ with a shell of maltose tuille and sits on a bed of granita and custard. The flavour of the snow egg changes seasonally, with guava and jackfruit some of the past flavours. At the time of our visit it was white nectarine.
I’m afraid to say that I didn’t love the snow egg. I felt as though there was too much granita, which was cold and hard and I got over it pretty quickly. The smooth vanilla custard at the bottom was lovely and I would have liked more of a balance between that and the granita. Other than that though, the soft meringue, ice cream centre and crunchy tuille were an excellent combination.
Understandably, it is hard to find fault with what is arguably the best restaurant in the country. Every dish is a meticulously thought out balance of flavours and textures, presented beautifully on a unique crockery piece. The tasting menu is carefully constructed, taking the diner on a journey through the wonderful world of Peter Gilmore’s culinary imagination.
Yes, some may find it wanky. Not everyone appreciates this type of dining or wants to pay for it, which I can completely understand. If you’re a bit of a snob like me however it should definitely be on your foodie bucket list. Book well in advance!Quay Overseas passenger terminal 5 Hicksons Road The Rocks, NSW