Artichoke and broad bean crostini $10
We walk past it at first. The signage on Fix St James is so subdued we have to double back when we realise we must have walked straight past it.
At first glance, Fix St James could almost pass itself off as an upmarket cafe, the entrance dominated by a espresso machine at the counter. The banquette seating, raised dining platform at the back, and a huge wine rack along the rear wall tell another story.
We start with complimentary bread served with saucers of grassy extra virgin olive oil. The ciabatta is satisfyingly dense with a lovely thick crust; the soft spongey focaccia sweet with whole cloves of caramelised garlic.
Caramelised garlic focaccia
Stuffed zucchini flowers $4 each
I'm entrusted with ordering entrees to share for the table. Stuffed zucchini flowers arrive first, coated in a light crispy batter and deep-fried to a happy golden sunshine. The lightest sprinkling of delicate parmesan shavings adds depth to the soft fluffy pillows of warm cheese packed generously into each flower.
Artichoke and broad bean crostini is the star of the show though. For some reason, I'd anticipated a puree spread on bread, but we're treated to toasted ciabatta slices that are covered with a tumble of baby artichoke quarters and plump broad beans that are so shiny and green, they make you smile and instantly think of spring. The slightly vinegary artichokes, the creamy sweetness of broad beans and the audible crunch of the crostini has the entire table murmuring their appreciation.
Pork t-bone with pearl barley and cabbage $30
Given its proximity to law courts and legal chambers, I'm not surprised to note the restaurant is busy with corporate suits, mainly the male kind, during today's weekday lunch. In fact we're told that because so many are regular patrons, the menu changes daily so there's always something new to try.
The dining room is full and whilst our entrees had only taken about fifteen minutes to arrive, we start feeling mournful when mains haven't arrived twenty minutes after the entrees. A quiet word with the waitstaff sees those in our party in a particular hurry receive their meals at haste. The remainder arrive about thirty minute after our entrees with polite and repeated apology.
Cape Grim scotch fillet tagliata $35
The wait is worth it. Pork t-bone is juicy, pink and succulent; thick slices of Cape Grim scotch fillet are well-rested and tender, hiding beneath a jungle of salad leaves, roasted potato and parmesan snow.
John Dory fillet with braised fennel, peas and nettles $34
Fillets of John Dory have been pan-fried to a glossy caramelised tinge, and the Roman chicken leg is a huge portion size blanketed with an entire red capsicum roasted to a melting sweetness.
Roman chicken leg braised with red pepper and olives $30
Veal rack with portobello mushroom and borlotti bean puree $35
I order the veal rack, and this picture does not do its mammoth size justice. Whilst it does not appear particularly large at first, the cut of meat is extraordinarily thick and hefty.
I'm delighted to find the meat is cooked to a medium-rare perfection. It's a man-sized meal, designed to provide all the protein a bloke could possibly need for the day. Maybe two.
Honey, clove sheep's milk pannacotta $12
We move onto the honey and clove sheep's milk pannacotta, a soft wobble of dessert that seems to sigh on the plate. The inclusion of sheep's milk means it's reasonably light with a hint of tanginess. Candied cumquats add a touch of citrus and a thin sweet biscuit is delightfully crisp.
Chocolate and pistachio truffles $2.50 each
Chocolate and pistachio truffles are not the balls we expect but curls of ganache that cascade like a wave suspended in time. "Be careful you don't breathe in the cocoa," we're warned and inevitably I do, trying to prolong its richness by slowly nibbling and letting it melt languidly on the tongue.
It perhaps epitomises our lunch - best savoured for maximum enjoyment.
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Fix St James
111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9232 2767
Monday - Friday for breakfast and lunch
Tuesday - Friday for dinner (6pm - 10pm)
And here are the winners of the o-mochi mooncake giveaway!
Aimee, Bowb, M, Paul and MChan. All winners have been contacted and your mooncakes should be on their way to you soon!
So you missed out this time?
Don't forget you only have a few days left to enter the SIFF World Chef Showcase competition. This ticket is worth $285 and will see you getting up close and personal with world class chefs and enjoying all day catering courtesy of Din Tai Fung, Sean's Kitchen and Brasserie Bread. Poh from Masterchef will be cooking you dessert and word is, that along with Matt Preston, Poh's mum will be helping out too! What are you waiting for? Entries close this Sunday 5pm AEST so hurry up and enter now!
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9/25/2009 01:22:00 am