Add: Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney 2000
Tel: (61 2) 9251 5600
Hours: [lunch] Tue-Fri 12~2:30pm [dinner] Mon-Sun 6~10pm
Price: [lunch] 125~220 AUD/set [dinner] 165~220 AUD/set
Visited on: 2012-04
I was so mesmerized by the dishes at Quay that at the end of our three-hour lunch, all I wanted was to have the whole thing start over again. Peter Gilmore has the enviable ability to coax the elegance and beauty out of the best ingredients, then orchestrate them on the plate to form a harmonious balance – so ethereal that everything seem held together by not much more than a wish!
The restaurant is set so close to Sydney Opera House that I could almost grab it with my hand. Unfortunately the weather was not shining for us that day, and we could only enjoy the view through heavy curtains of rain. On a sunny day, the pearlescent white of the Opera House against the blue of the sky and ocean would be a most stunning backdrop.
We started with a glass of 2010 Krinklewood Chardonnay from Hunter Valley (17 AUD) and a 2011 Thistle Hill Riesling from Mudgee (18 AUD).
From there on, the meal unfolded like a delicious dream. Amuse bouche of the day was marron sashimi with nitrogen frozen pomelo, shaved roasted almond, and bergamot marmalade. It was a refreshing and intriguing combination, the texture of the nitrogen frozen pomelo was especially interesting as it morphed in the mouth with each bite.
Lunch sets at Quay are priced at 125 AUD (3 courses), 145 AUD (4 courses), and 220 AUD (8-course tasting menu). I chose the 4-course option, starting with salad of rhubarb, endive, beetroot, purple carrot, rosa radish, kohlrabi, goat’s curd, pomegranate molasses, violet. The dish was in gorgeous shades of purple, each vegetable contributing a different texture and flavor. Sweet, tangy, completely woke up my palate.
My friend started with mud crab congee, fresh palm heart, hand shelled mud crab, Chinese inspired split rice porridge. Very charming.
Second course, gentle braise, prawns, octopus, diamond shell clams, heirloom radishes, pink turnips, baby squid, sea urchin. The picture below really doesn’t do justice for how lovely the dish looked and tasted. Each ingredient, shaved into translucent slices, retained its own character yet blended perfectly with one other, and all were accentuated by the light yet sophisticated broth.
Here’s my friend’s smoked and confit pig cheek, shiitake, shaved scallop, Jerusalem artichoke, juniper, bay. The pig cheek was unbelievable – it must have been one of the tenderest and silkiest pieces of meat I’ve ever put in my mouth. In combination with shiitake and shaved scallop, both providing a sensual layer of texture and flavor, this was yet another unforgettable dish. I couldn’t help but but to dive in for another bite of this.
When my third course, Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil arrived at the table, our waiter suggested that we take a moment to appreciate the aroma of the dish, so I placed my head over the plate and breathed in deeply. Wow, words cannot describe how hauntingly delicious it smelled. Then I tasted the dish, a perfect collision of the maltose’ crackling crunch and the pork’s tender silkiness. Along with tangy chewy prunes and smooth cauliflower cream, it was simply perfect.
My friend’s roasted pink snapper, ginger scented milk curd, shaved abalone, young leeks, fennel, kabu turnips, black radish, oyster and seaweed consomme was probably the only dish of the meal that didn’t blow me away. The ensemble was very interesting, but the fish itself was a bit overcooked.
Complimentary green salad.
For desserts, it’s a no brainer to order Quay’s famous snow egg. What it is: guava ice-cream encapsulated in a poached meringue, then covered by a malt biscuit which holds the meringue together and adds a crackling crunch. Guava granita and a layer of the cream at the bottom for extra flavor and texture. Here’s a dainty little video that shows you how this dessert is done.
Another signature at Quay is its eight texture chocolate cake. The cool thing about this dessert is that it’s constructed so that when hot chocolate is poured table-side on the cake, it gives the illusion that the sauce actually melted through the top. To see this theatrical presentation on video, click here.
Can you discern the 8 layers?
I was very in love with Peter Gilmore by the end of this meal. His dishes are truly beautiful ensembles of textures and flavors – subtle, but never bland – and plated so simply yet elegantly. This sure is a wonderful reminder that dining at a fine restaurant like Quay can be a perfect little vacation in itself…