Friday, October 27, 2006

Quay: Let's Do Lunch!

Left: the bunny
This restaurant is among the most consistently awarded three hat restaurants in Sydney. Chef Peter Gilmore’s ability to not only win but maintain this rating is legendary and well deserved. And he’s a dab hand with the sweets. Ok, the interior looks like its been refurbished with 70's disco remnants, complete with LSD inspired carpet and mirror ceilings, but in a room with these views you don't look inside, you look out ... and at the plate.

What attracted us to Quay was not only its stellar status but the published lunch offering for GFM. “Slow-braised Macleay Valley rabbit with spring-vegetable risotto”. While slightly over punctuated (kind of like the decor) it sounded fantastic. I love bunny. And of course you get the celebrated view of the Opera House to go with it. The matched wine was Brown Brothers Sangiovese which I humbly thought was a little heavy handed given the delicate flavour of the rabbit. What was worse was the waiter trying to pour it into L’s barely finished glass of Spy Valley Pinot Gris. We had to request a new glass. (Mon dieu! Trois chapeaux? Quelle scandale!).

Left: THAT dessert

I browsed the wine list, which is about the size and global breadth of a National Geographic magazine, and while it is amazingly extensive and thoughtfully compiled, I notice that the NV Pelorus – a sparkling pinot noir chardonnay from the Cloudy Bay vineyard in Marlborough, is $81 in comparison to the same wine at Aki’s (where we dined earlier in the week) listed at $52. I can handle variations in prices at restaurants, but $30 on a single bottle? For the bargain hunter or bulk buyer it retails for around AUD$25-27, so you do the sums.

Left: Cheese selection

Anyway, back to the bunny. Gorgeous. A luscious fillet, sweet and tender. If you haven’t eaten rabbit before, or have had a bad experience of a stringy, overcooked lump of tasteless meat, take heart because the restaurants and butchers of Australia are reacquainting themselves with it. I’ve read and heard about the Macleay Valley white rabbit, farmed on the north coast of NSW, but this was my first taste of the produce. And where better to sample it than Quay? I was well impressed. Perfectly executed, a melting morsel of aromatic lapin swathed in rich jus. The fillet is stuffed with a herbed rabbit farce, providing both an heightened flavour dimension and texture counterpoint. The risotto was a little undercooked. It was a good five minutes prior to al dente, so the centre was hard and flinty rather than just giving yet firm. The vegetables were great. Succulent baby peas, teeny weeny spring onion bulbs, sugary and just set. We order an extra salad plate of green leaves to accompany it.

Salad leaves
As always with a set one course menu, you have to gaze at the afters. J ordered the Mille Feuille with rose water cream and raspberries ($22). When you look at my snaps, you might recognise this as the dish whose picture graces the cover of the 2007 SMH Good Food Guide. Garnished with toffee and gold leaf, it whispers to the palate every bit as seductively as it looks. L and I share a well sized selection of the four cheese plate ($25), comprising (from bottom to top of the pic) a vine leaf wrapped goat cheese, Roquefort, washed rind, and young herbed sheep’s milk cheese. All were delicious and a talented choice of combination served with crispy lavosh and fruit bread (below).

However… there always has to be a ‘but’ doesn’t there? As a product of dining at so many fabulous places this month, I can’t help but compare. When one dessert among four was ordered at Bécasse we were treated to a palate cleanser and petits fours with coffee. At Quay, despite a dessert and cheese plate, nearly $50 on top of the GFM menu price, no such amuse gueule hospitality was offered. Despite the brilliant meal, and considering the waiter’s faux pas, it made us feel as though Bécasse had the slight edge on this Sydney institution – another indication that Bécasse is definitely punching above its headwear.


Blogger CRK-BS said...

hola que tal?
la verdad que esta muy buena la pagina, muy interesante todo...saludosssssss

2:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful blog, very nice pictures!!
I'd also like to invite you to take a look at my blog... It is in Portuguese but you can click on the instant Babel Fish translator to read it in English.
Congratulations again on your blog!


2:05 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

It does look very nice, and it's great to see rabbit on more menus. Love that you ordered THAT dessert, so pretty! I've always wanted to go to Quay - but undercooked risotto? Nooooooo! And the wine faux pas? Noooooo again! It's just unacceptable from a three-hatter.

As usual a great write-up and photos! And that's GFM for another year *sigh*

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Y said...

Love the look of the dessert, the cheeses, and that bubbly lavosh! The vine leaf wrapped goats cheese looks like one I bought today - a Woodside Figaro.

6:19 PM  
Blogger PiCkLeS said...

oh yum!the dessert with raspberries is stunning!

11:15 PM  
Blogger Brilynn said...

That looks like an exceptional meal!

12:03 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

Thanks Vivianne - I will check out your blog.

I was aghast Julia. Shocked to the core. But I still have another lunch to do. It's only the 30th :)

The cheeses were lovely Y. I tried to catch all their names but I gave up.

Hi PIckles. It was so light and airy and the pastry just melted in your mouth. Outstanding!

It was a stand out Brilynn. But still had a few little errors I didn't expect.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

the dessert looks gorgeous! but i can't start to imagine how you'd tackle it? looks extremely fragile... messy...and yummy :-P

1:06 PM  

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