Following on from my first two days in Sydney, Part 1 (blogged here), it was time to get serious about food.
This meant that I would be getting out my loose-fitting or elasticised clothing. This meant that I need to get off on a good start.
Following that Ellery, my travel friend, had already been in Sydney/NSW for 2+ weeks prior to my visit, it’s fair to say he had done a bit of research.
Westfield Sydney is a shopping mecca, with all your world-class fashion labels and complete with beautiful window displays. In an attempt to encourage middle/upper class shoppers to have a better full day shopping experience (those who may cringe at the usual fast food chain-dominated food court fare, shopping centres are investing in high-quality restaurants within their shopping centres (Brisbane version: Westfield Carindale).
Breakfast: Din Tai Fung. This dumpling restaurant branch originated in Taiwai and is famous for their xiao long baos. An interesting fact I just learnt from their website: “…every dumpling pastry is delicately hand made to measure between precisely 4.8 and 5.2 grams at conception, with an exact 6cm diameter, before being stuffed to weigh between 20.6 and 21.4 grams. All this and the promise that the food can be made fresh in front of your eyes, steamed in exactly three minutes and on your table in seconds.”
As expected the xiao long baos have a delicious thick, almost sweet stock inside them. The pork and prawn wonton soup was tasty but average. We ordered another pork dumpling that doesn’t recall any life-changing moments so I can share that it was good. A really nice change for a shopping centre food court though.
Lunch: We take a long walk to Surry Hill’s to visit Bentley’s Restaurant and Bar, which has continuously been awarded 2 Chef Hats. Being a lunch weekend service, it was not busy and only had two floorstaff.
My main was roasted duck breast with baby beetroot, black sausage and turnip. It was presented beautifully in thin slices and extremely evenly cooked. It was actually the best (non-Asian) roasted duck I’ve ever tasted. I would not shut up about how the duck was so perfectly evenly cooked to Ellery. After asking, it was revealed that it was pan-fried and then left to finish in the oven. Which I know is a normal way of cooking duck… but just wow at the resulting dish.
Dessert was a pink peppercorn ice cream with cumquat, honey and spiced bread. I was really hesistant about this dish because I wanted to try something different. I really wanted to like this. The ice cream was super creamy and smooth. The spiced bread failed to impress. The pink peppercorn flavour was really subtle but it just didn’t sit well with me. Personal opinion.
Dinner: We had acquired a few friends and were after a place in the CBD that would seat 5 people easily and without a booking. We returned to Westfield to eat at Spiedo Restaurant and Bar. This was a casual, mid-priced Italian restaurant with an open kitchen (love!). It was good for a group dinner as the seats were outside the kitchen in an open-space of the the shopping centre, so loud discussions form other patrons would not be amplified inside a room.
Breakfast: all-you-can-eat buffet at The Menzies. It was not going to be good. So let’s move on.
Lunch: 4/14. Walking in, we are overwhelmed by a high ceiling warehouse-style, natural light-filled space. A central bar in the middle of the restaurant floor features an entire roasted pig on the benchtop. Very visually appealing and definitely get the saliva glands working. We ate a variety of small plates. Their dish with fried duck egg, Alaskan crab and peas was amazing. The fish fingers featured giant rectangular fingers of fillets with homemade tartare and mushy peas. Actually seems like a lazy dish in my opinion. The beef and bone is a ginormous, caramelised mound of beef already falling of the bone. This dish also featured tiny dots of marrow littered into the meat. Amazing. The portion sizes were all extremely generous making this worth so much more for the $.
This would have been *highlight of the food holiday*. I had eaten so much that I didn’t order dessert. Although I wanted to. So badly. I literally sat there close to tears as I told the waitress I would not eat more. Also, the clipboard menu features a collage of boobs. BOOBS.
Dinner: Glass brasserie inside the Hilton. Now, this was supposed to be the highlight of the trip. Knowing Luke Mangan’s exploration into Asian cuisine I was disappointed that this restaurant didn’t explore this more. We ordered a mix of Spanish style tapas to start with. Going onto entree, main, dessert. My entree was a signature dish of enoki and blue swimmer crab omelette which had a warm miso broth poured over it. My main was a Beef City eye fillet, grain fed Black Angus 250g with grilled asparagus & tomato chutney. I couldn’t finish it. It was dried out (even though I ordered medium rare) that I was just eating cardboard. My friend Ellery also confirmed this. This was a real bummer for me.
To finish I had the chocolate and mint pavé with frozen raspberries, salted caramel popcorn, prune & Armagnac ice-cream . This was the standout dish for me. The flavours really were delicious altogether. The omelette is an omelette, nothing really pushing boundaries in terms of technicalities or taste. The steak. Well, it was almost inedible. So maybe the dessert seemed better than what it was. However, it is an impressive restaurant with glass (surprisingly). Ellery and I picked up a few drops in service i.e. having to ask for a spoon for my soup, etc. I would not go back as sad as it is for me to say. Based off the price we paid, I could not justify it.
Just because I’ve put off finishing this for so long I’m going to quickly wrap this up. Sydney, you have so many good things in you that I am sure to return (indeed I am in April!).