Vegetarian spring rolls with a sweet chilli dipping sauce
We had lunch again at The Apprentice last week, the training restaurant for commercial cookery students at the TAFE Ultimo campus.
I'm always impressed with the design of the restaurant upon exit from the elevators. The abundance of natural lighting is always remarkably refreshing, and the selection of chairs, carpet and tables have the clean quiet ambience of a museum cafe.
We gratefully accept proffered flutes of champagne on arrival. The three course lunch here includes two glasses of wine and a welcome drink for $25. It's unbelievable value.
We are pleasantly surprised this time to discover we are allowed to choose our preferences from the daily menu. Last time we dined we had a somewhat alternate drop of dishes, an arrangement that is understandable given the training environment. The available options, we learn from our waitress, diminish quickly as we wait for the rest of our table to arrive. By the time some of us have proactively decided to get in quick and order, the chicken breast salad with Roquefort has gone. So too has the grilled salmon main. I sneak in with the last available Moroccan lamb.
Deep-fried zucchini flowers
(accompanying the spring rolls)
I had deliberately avoided the spring roll option, immediately envisioning the deep-fried Chinese version. Instead a vegetarian version of summer rolls arrive and I glance enviously at their accompanying deep-fried zucchini flowers. That hadn’t been mentioned on the menu!
Spinach, fetta and semi-dried tomato quiche
wrapped in phyllo pastry
I had instead opted for the quiche, which looked nothing as I envisioned but, like the "spring rolls", exceeded expectations. Two tasty parcels wrapped in crisp filo/phyllo pastry. It was light and summery and a pleasant start to the meal.
Chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto ham
accompanied by mash potatoes and a creamy pesto sauce
Pork souvlaki skewers
served with rice, tadziki sauce and Greek side salad
The chicken and the pork mains are both declared good. The pork is reportedly very tender and the tadziki (we spend some time discussing its more usual spelling) has a nice garlic kick although it's a bit too creamy and not tangy enough for its recipient.
Moroccan lamb served with cous cous and a tomato salad
The lamb is served well-done but is surprisingly tender, and the marinade of Moroccan spices is aromatic and subtly spicy. The giant platform of cous cous is welcomed but the lack of sauce makes me wish I had rationed my tomato slices. The artistic drizzle of sauce is frustratingly meagre. It's tasty too which makes me weep even more.
Chocolate zucchini cake
For dessert I can't resist the chocolate zucchini cake, a combination I have seen many a time in cookbooks but never tried (chocolate potato cake is another one that comes to mind).
The cake is a little drier than I expected, and again, a spoonful of something creamy is longed-for. A dollop of King Island double cream perhaps, or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream would suffice.
Lemon meringue pie
The lemon meringue pie is accompanied with a mumbled apology about the failed meringue, mended with another serve of an alternative dessert, the summer trifle.
The trifle is surprisingly delicious, although in hindsight I think I was more excited about the cream. There are cubes of sponge cake soaked in custard, a hint of banana I think, and a layer of berries topped with cream. I nab some cream for my zucchini cake which improves things immensely.
Vanilla and coffee bavarois
Prettiest dessert goes to the bavarois, a delicate wobble of vanilla and coffee layers topped with four criss-crossed cats' tongues. The trail of red sauce provides a dramatic flourish.
Overall the food is good with only a couple of tweaks required. Service can be a little awkward with a few incidents of water spillage and general nervous hesitancy, but with meals at these prices I'm happy to fund their hospitality learning curve.
Level 7, Building E, Ultimo College TAFE
695-731 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9217 5527
Lunch - $25.00
3 courses with 2 glasses of wine, beer or soft drink
plus a welcome drink on arrival
Dinner - $35.00
4 courses with 2 glasses of wine, beer or soft drink
plus a welcome drink on arrival
Open Monday - Friday during term time only
Bookings essential, and must be paid in advance.
Related GrabYourFork posts:
The Apprentice, March 2006
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5/17/2006 11:59:00 pm