Wednesday, 4 May 2011


201 Sussex Street
Sydney, 2000
(02) 9283 1990

Category: Rock Star ($200+)

So here we are… Chef of the year 2011, SMH Good Food Guide Two Chefs Hats, Gourmet Traveller Two Stars, and the ex-Head Chef for Tetsuya’s… With such accolades one would think they are surely in for a treat?  

The restaurant itself is tucked away near Darling Harbor beneath the PWC building. The entrance is dark and we are well greeted. Our coats taken and we walk into an art-deco style looking bar area. I feel like I have walked into a 1920s movie set expecting to see Bonnie & Clyde in one corner and the mafia smoking cigars in the other. The restaurant itself wraps itself around the bar on either side and we are seated amongst a low roof, with dim lighting and dark woods. So much so I can barely see the menu. However, not a bad spot if you are looking for a bit of peace and quiet to enjoy a meal.

After much debate we opt for the degustation. Myself in particular, looking forward to the much hyped Murray cod and dessert. However, I must say… we were, well, indifferent by the time it all went down. I love beetroot, however the amuse bouche version left me thinking… just a false start? Or am I at the right restaurant? Perhaps with all the coveted awards my expectations are too high? The continuing items appeared, and they went too with little to really write home about. Add to this a clearly over salted crab dish and I was beginning to feel a little… well, sad I guess.

The Murray cod came… and went… whilst being very well cooked, and tender, it is by far not the best fish I have tasted… yet again another disappointment… sigh..

The remaining dishes again came and went and whilst we were having a good time, it just did not feel like a great dining experience overall… then came the dessert…

and O. M. G…  Now this was special… This was@#!^))? amazing…

I would come back just for this. The ‘Chocolate Forest’ is the first desert and dish of the night where all the ingredients came together. They all harmonise perfectly, and even if one were missing… it would just not be the same. Everything about it was just… perfect, breathtaking really… lavender panna cotta, cherry sorbet, dehydrated chocolate, chocolate twigs and a whole bunch of other bits and pieces that get thrown in to make the experience… well as If I was walking through a forest of chocolate… If I had to judge the restaurant on desert alone, it would get 20/20.  

The wine list is strong, with some good international numbers, and the service attentive however a little robotic and inattentive at times. However it seems this is what is expected at the more ‘upper class’ restaurants. It loses that sense of heart a little, however what it lakes in service from that perspective it makes up in professionalism, and I assume one must draw the line somewhere. Guests can also have drinks at the bar and there is a healthy bar dining menu to go with it also so a quick after drinks catch up is available.

Overall, this was by no means a bad experience. However apart from the phemonenal desert, there was little to really remember. The décor is nice, with the initial entrance and the décor was nicely done (albeit a little dim).  Maybe I was expecting too much initially? Although Chef of the year and Two hats surely would warrant high expectations? Surely? Maybe I am just too harsh when I am getting charged in excess of $100 per head. Maybe I went at the wrong season in a consistently changing menu? At the end of the day the desert saved them, because on this particular experience, without it, I dare say I would not be as complementary.

Bottom Line:
One really should not think too much about cash if you are going to dine at a place like this, however just over $200 without drinks (a la carte) and around $300 for the degustation  

Food                                     6/10 (Less if we have to take out the dessert)
Service                                 2/3
Décor etc                             2/3
Cleanliness                         2/2
BONUS                                  1/2

Total                                      13/20