A few weeks ago, it was M's 21st birthday and we all know that important occasions come with delicious gastronomic ventures. It was our first time at the two-hatted restaurant and I was highly anticipating the experience after hearing all the raving reviews.
The SMH Good Food Guide 2013 describes est. as 'elegant dining for all the senses' - and they were right. Set within a beautiful heritage room, the dining experience was one to remember.
You can either choose to go with the Seven Course Degustation for $175 per person or you could go a la carte, choosing four courses from the Chef's Menu. We opted for the latter because this way we can try a wider range of dishes and select according to our preferences. After all we are known to be very picky people :P
Seriously I don't know what it is but my undying love for sourdough bread has reached severe levels. I secretly wish the waiter would bring out the whole loaf and I would just set camp at the restaurant, buttering away. Ok in all seriousness this bread was awesome and the butter was lusciously creamy and addictive. Freshly baked, you get to choose from an assorted selection. When I was offered a second helping, my eyes literally beamed with joy - of course I'd like another ;)
What's a 21st birthday without some bubbly? For the night we went with a glass of N.V Ruinart Blanc De Blancs ($30, Reims - France) each. For me I am always super anxious when I'm ordering wine - how the hell do people pronounce these names? I've resorted to a strategic response: simply point at the one you'd like and be like "I'll just have a glass of this" and hope to god the waiter does not ask you to repeat it verbally.
Oh and the champagne was lovely - chilled and sparkling with slight sweet scents!
For my first entree, I chose the salad of spanner crab, cauliflower, apple jelly, white radicchio, nasturtiums (45), which was super fresh for the taste palette as a starter. The crab meat was ultra delicate and paired with bursts of sweet flavour from the apple jelly. It was beautifully plated and texturally quite interesting - honestly with each bite I wasn't 100% sure what I was eating but it was good. And that's what's important. Now if only the proportion size was a bit bigger...
The birthday boy is a raw fish lover so it's a no brainer for him to order the sashimi of ocean trout, dashi, tapioca, ocean trout roe, puffed quinoa, white soy, lime (42 ). How divine does the dish look? The presentation was beautifully intricate and I loved the use of the colourful flower petals. I tried some of this myself and taste wise it was very fresh with interesting textural bites. Again, sort of wasn't sure what we were eating but it all just meshed very well together.
I was so excited to try the moreton bay bug, wombok, coconut, ginger, chilli, kaffir lime, coriander (46 ) for my second entree because lets face it, moreton bay bugs are the bomb. The flesh of the bug was lovely and tender but key to the amazingness of this dish lies in its flavoursome broth. The wombuk added the extra touch of crunchiness to excite your taste buds.
M's grilled scallops, white carrots, pickled pear, foie gras, hazelnuts (45 ) was quite possibly the best scallop dish I've ever tried. Crazy tender with abundant flavours, this was a classic must-order. With each cut, the scallop flesh literally slided off the knife with ease - 10 thumbs up!
Just a note - both entrees were quite small in size which is ok because I believe in quality over quantity. However both M & I were pleased to see that the mains were slightly more generous and proved to be a good feed.
· My main was Head Chef Peter Doyle's signature dish - the murray cod fillet, shaved abalone, snow peas, black fungi, ginger - green shallot vinaigrette (58 ). This photo seriously does not do it justice as it was the most exquisite fish dish ever. It was steamed and the flavours resembled that of Asian influences but quite honestly this tasted better than any of the Chinese restaurants I've been to. The fish was cooked to perfection with a tangy green shallot vinaigrette and crunchy companions such as the likes of abalone. The broth was beyond flavoursome and each bite of the meat was worthy of some oooh-ing and ahh-ing. You'd be crazy not to order it.
So my main was pretty incredible but M didn't lose out either. His order of glazed beef short rib, miso turnips, shaved radish, pickled onion, horseradish, upland cress (59) was equally scrumptious. The meat was tender with good flavour and for steak lovers, you would love it! When I tried it, it tasted a bit like brisket almost as the meat would melt gently in my mouth as the flavours inside started oozing out. The decent proportion size makes this another winner!
Dessert sort of paled in comparison to the other dishes but still it was a pleasant experience - after all no desserts could ever be bad. My choice of the earl grey ice cream, tangelo, citrus curd donuts, ruby grapefruit sorbet (29) was quite interesting - it was probably the first time I had seen donuts on a fine dining menu. The donuts were surprisingly filling and it paired well with the earl grey ice cream. However I wasn't a fan of the sudden citrus hits from the grapefruit and sorbet.
And yes, we must ALWAYS order the chocolate dessert at every restaurant. The valrhona chocolate delice, wild rice praline, caramelized pear, toasted rice ice cream (29) was a delectable treat with a rich chocolate-mousse texture tht was smooth and velvety. Make sure each spoonful is accompanied by some of the ice cream so that you don't go into a sugar overload. Wasn't a fan of the pear - I think I must hate mixing fruits with my desserts. Overall not too bad but nothing too special either.
Just when you think sweet treat time is over...we were presented with complimentary petit fours. Always a nice and pleasant way to end the dining experience :)
But no...est. insists on taking it one step further - we are gifted with take-home chocolates! And they were pretty damn good chocolates too. The box was simply too adorable and we loved the final gesture.
The interiors of the est. epitomises all things classic and modern. With soaring white columns, a high ceiling adorned with chandeliers and luxe accoutrements, this place was beautiful and grand. Service was super professional and attentive, we couldn't have been more happier with our dining experience for that night.
Overall I really enjoyed est. - quality ingredients, exquisite presentation, impeccable service and a dining ambience that was all things elegant. The dishes exuded a contemporary Australian feel paired with French-influenced precision.
I admit though, definitely reserve this place for a special occasion as prices are quite exxy. Nevertheless it is a worthwhile experience if you're into fine dining :)
Level 1 Establishment
252 George Street
Sydney CBD NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000