If there's one dessert you must hunt down right now it's the black truffle St Honore at Sixpenny. Originally only available for special occasion pre-orders, the dessert was such a hit that the kitchen will now occasionally make whole ones available for the day's diners. Individual slices are available as an additional dessert course until it sells out. It always does.
2014 Sebastien Brunet Vouvray Demi Sec 'La Folie' chenin blanc - Loire Valley, France $19
and 2015 Pyramid Valley Vineyards 'On Skins' amber wine - Marlborough, NZ $24
I first visited Sixpenny in 2012. I still smile at the memory of it. I remember the dishes as fine examples of complex simplicity, uncluttered by excessive ingredients or unnecessary techniques. A large group of us reserved the private dining room, separated from the kitchen by a giant window that ran the length of the room. The free floor show provided by the chefs was fascinating. We watched them working assiduously throughout the entire lunch service. They diplomatically ignored our gawking faces plastered up against the window.
Today it's just the three of us in the main dining room, a noticeably different dynamic as various parts of the room burst into conversation or laughter. Floor staff float graciously between tables.
Other changes have been afoot. Former co-head chef James Parry left the kitchen in February this year. That leaves Chef Daniel Puskas in sole charge of the kitchen.
Two degustation lengths continue to be available for diners at both lunch and dinner. The small menu at $115 runs at seven courses. The large menu includes an additional course each of savoury and dessert for $145.
We choose the small menu.
Lightly pickled cucumber with rose and raspberry
A trio of snacks is the first to arrive. Mini towers of pickled cucumber are just the thing to kickstart our appetite, crowned with fuchsia pink shavings of rose and raspberry.
The pumpkin scallop refers to the puck of tender pumpkin hidden within a deep fried fritter ball, dusted in pumpkin salt.
Green tomato and cheese gougeres
My favourite snack of the three is the green tomato and cheese gougere. Trying to bite through the cloud of aged cheddar curls gives us the giggles but we're immediately silenced by the sweet and savoury burst of green tomato marmalade inside. I could have eaten a dozen of these alone.
Housemade sourdough with mascarpone butter
The housemade sourdough is warm from the oven, still noisily crusty on the outside with a pillow-soft core. The mascarpone butter is so good I could've eaten it with a spoon. I slather it an inch-thick across my bread instead.
Venison tartare with boudin noir baked beetroot and hazelnut
Venison tartare is not appear as you'd ordinarily expect. It's not until you slice through the crimson wall of beetroot that you spot the hand-chopped venison nestled beneath the nest of hazelnut.
Does Sixpenny has a knack of pairing proteins with nuts? I think so. Their former signature dish - mud crab with macadamia cream - created one of those light bulb moments of clarity. It made so much sense. Hazelnut and raw venison is another one. The nutty sweetness of hazelnut works so well against game meat. It's the texture too - microplaned into a kind of ethereal fairy dust.
Potatoes with oyster and raw mushroom
We marvel over the sculptural plating of the potatoes with mushroom before gently dismantling it. Our forks sink through the chunks of soft-cooked potato cooked in rye butter. Across the top are sails of raw mushroom slices, covered in mushroom powder. Ribboned throughout it all is a velvety smooth oyster mushroom emulsion.
The umami notes in this dish are incredible. Who needs meat when you have flavour-packed vegetarian dishes like this one?
Housemade malt and honey sourdough
Our server comes around with a basket of housemade malt and honey sourdough that nobody can resist. We can smell the honey even before it is carefully dispensed onto our plates. The sourdough is so crustily good here I wish I could buy an entire loaf.
Spanish mackerel with radicchio and fermented cucumber
The Spanish mackerel is covered by a curl of char-grilled Treviso radicchio.
Spanish mackerel beneath the radicchio
It's not until we pull back the covers that we find the Coffs Harbour Spanish mackerel hiding underneath. The fish is cooked masterfully, flaking apart with just a gentle nudge of our forks. The sauce is fermented cucumber and tomato essence. We revel in the nuances of tomato against the gentle bitterness of the radicchio and the mackerel.
Smoked duck with witlof and plum
The smoked duck is a breast that has been smoked with sage and hickory and aged for one week. We get echoes of Christmas ham in this dish, both in texture and taste. The duck skin has a smoky intensity to it, and the witlof segment with plum caramel provide counterbalances of bitterness and sweet.
Mead vinegar custard with frozen raspberry and strawberry
Our pre-dessert is another example of beauty in simplicity. An elongated quenelle of mead vinegar custard is the dam holding back a flood of frozen raspberry segments. We alternate between mouthfuls of silky custard, cold pops of raspberry and the sweet puddle of strawberry puree at the bottom. It's a terrifically elegant palate cleanser.
Presenting the St Honore to guests
We'd been looking forward to the St Honore throughout our meal and get a rush when the entire tart suddenly materialises at our table. It's an opportunity for us to see the St Honore in its entirety before being sliced into individual portions. After leaving our table it tours the room, prompting a lunge for phones and cameras by most diners. The chef smiles wryly through it all, patiently waiting for each photoshoot to finish.
And can you blame us? The St Honore is a picture of perfection. Literally. I could look at this photo all day, admiring each perfectly piped disc of cream and the glistening allure of toffee on each profiterole.
Black truffle St Honore
You can add the black truffle St Honore (if it's available) to your degustation for $25. We elected to swap out our dessert course for the St Honore instead, paying an additional $10.
Profiteroles filled with hazelnut cream
The smell of truffle is intense, wispy flakes piled across the surface. A ring of profiteroles around the edge are filled with hazelnut cream.
Freshly shaved black truffle on the St Honore
We scoop up forkfuls of whipped cream and chiboust, piped on a golden base of flaky mille-feuille pastry. After one mouthful we wonder aloud whether we should order another slice, but really our eyes are far bigger than our stomachs. It's actually a huge slice.
I eat some of the truffle slices with the dessert. I reserve some to slowly savour on their own, quietly appreciating their gentle brittleness.
It's a fitting finale to a thoughtfully orchestrated meal. Service was just the right balance of friendly but not overly invasive attentiveness too. And having the chefs sporadically come out to deliver dishes to diners (Chef Daniel Puskas came out twice to our table) is always a nice touch.
After your meal, don't forget to check out the kitchen garden out the back. We had an abbreviated tour from our server before she had to return to the dining room but you can stay and poke around as long as you please.
Wild ginger growing in the restaurant garden
Truffle season will soon be coming to an end so go visit for the black truffle St Honore while you can!
83 Percival Road, Stanmore, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9572 6666
Lunch Saturday and Sunday from 12pm
Dinner Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm
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Sixpenny, Stanmore (June 2012)
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8/22/2016 01:08:00 am