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Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Sydney Degustation

M and I had planned for this trip to Sydney since March. Even then, we couldn't get a table for dinner at Tetsuya's on a Saturday. So we had to settle for Tetsuya for lunch. Dinner was going to be at Rockpool. When we told D about our dining plans, who was also in Sydney for holiday and golf, he told us that we were mad to have two fine dining experience in one day. We didn't think so but he was right in the end...

We had little or no expectation for both restaurants, except that my parents though that the service at Rockpool was a bit slow. We didn't know that it was degustation menu only at Tetsuya, even for lunch! It was a set menu at both establishments (though for Rockpool we had some choice.) Were we disappointed? Not at all, even considering the pace of the service.

Tetsuya's Driveway
View of the Japanese Garden from Our Table

The 12-course degustation menu at Tetsuya's was $180 per person - very reasonable really for the items and servings provided. We were greeted warmly by staff dressed in crisp white shirts and tailored black pants. The entrance is reminiscent of a grand Tokyo residence. Lucky for us, we received a table next to the window overlooking the Japanese garden with its miniature water falls and tiny lizards. The service was attentative and friendly. When you order sparkling mineral water, it is per person, and they refill all through the course of your stay. I say "stay" because we were there at 1pm and left at 4pm. Having a meal at Tetsuya cannot be rushed, it is a day-trip to indulge with friends and family.

Tetsuya's 12-Course Degustation Menu

Tasmanian Pacific Oyster with Rice Vinegar (optional but worth it)

Shellfish Consomme

Tartare of Tuna on Sushi Rice with Avocado

Tetsuya's Signature Dish - Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Daikon & Fennel

Seasonal Green Salad

Ravioli of Lobster & Crab with Shellfish Essence

Twice Cooked De-Boned Spatchcock with Braised Daikon & Bread Sauce

Grilled Wagyu Beef with Asian Mushrooms & Lime Jus- Strawberry Shortcake
Beetroot and Blood Orange Sorbet

Floating Island with Praline & Vanilla Bean Anglaise

Coffee or Tea & Petit Four

We ordered oysters, which we shouldn't have because I was full by the fifth course! They remembered to print the menu for me as a souvenir, which I was very impressed with. Good overall impression and would definitely go back. Also wait for the petit fours - they are really yummy! Fantastic food and great ambience.

Given that there wasn't much time to digest our food before our Rockpool reservation at 7pm, we called up and told them that we would be one hour late. We got to The Rocks early to find a car park and to walk around the beautiful area.

Rockpool was not what I expected. Rockpool's décor is more of a diner cross with the interior of a cruiseliner. We were seated upstairs, again next to the window, this time overlooking George Street. Again the staff were friendly and attentative. Mineral water was also charged by per person.

We opted for the five course set menu (at $150) because we were still digesting our lunch feast. You can choose every single dish, and there were a few gems in each categories to make you really have to think hard about what you wanted to eat and how to balance the elements in your dinner. I also chose from the vegetarian menu.

M & K's Selected 5-Course Rockpool Degustation Menu

Course 1
Hand Picked Spanner Crab Salad with Green Mango, Pomelo and Cashew Nut
Lime and Chilli Foam- Salad of Abalone, Mussels, Clams, Tea Smoked Oysters and Fine Noodles with Truffle Oil and Mushroom Soy Dressing
Course 2
Salt and Pepper Silken Tofu with Green Mango, Pomelo and Cashew Nut Salad
King Prawn and Pumkin Agnalotti with Prawns, Lemon Oil and Burnt Butter

Course 3
Sauteed of Veal Sweetbread, Artichoke, Olive and Tomato
Saffron Pappardelle with Spicy Seafood Sauce and Aioli
Course 4
Blackmore Wagyu Marble Score +9 Minute Steak with Barley, Spinach Puree and Parsley Sauce
Confit of Suckling Pig with Blood Orange Jelly and Spiced Carrot Sauce

Course 5
Strawberry Mille-Feuille with Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream
Passionfruit Souffle with Passionfruit Cream Coffee & Sweets

- Latte & Short Macchiato with Toffee Candies, Passionfruit Marshmallows, Strawberry Marcones, and Hazelnut Chocolate Truffles.

Wait for the sweets with your coffee, especially the Passionfruit marshmallows, they are divine... we took some home :) ...
That was not the end of our feasting in Sydney. On the Sunday we took a leisurely drive out to the Hunter valley, to taste some wine, enjoy the fresh air and generally relax.

We started around 10.30am at the vineyards and then went to an absolutely charming restaurant in the Hunter Valley - Robert's Restaurant for lunch. The cuisine is Modern Australian, but set in a large historical residence with beautiful wooden floorboards and high wooden beams.
Walkway to Robert's Restaurant
Barn Interior of Robert's Restaurant
We had the calamari, black-lipped mussels, pippies & prawns, tossed in pesto cream with Linguini as a shared entrée, M then had the twice-roasted duckling with braised savoy cabbage and pear glaze with a fantastic sweet/spicy sauce. I had a main size of the lasagna of wild porcini with sautéed mushrooms and spinach. The lasagne was an entree size but I decided to get a main serving, it was a mistake. The Lasagne was good however considering all the food we had experienced over the weekend it was a bit too rich in the main serving.
Hall Way to Restaurant
529 Kent Street
02 9267 2900

107 George Street
The Rocks
02 9252 1888
Peppers Convent
Hunter Valley
Halls Road
Pokolbin NSW
02 4998 7330

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