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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Becasse, Sydney


EDIT: Becasse has closed

Hurrah! It's Good Food Month and what better way to kick off proceedings than with a Hats Off dinner at Becasse. Awarded Restaurant of the Year by the SMH 2007 Good Food Guide--a hitherto unheard-of achievement by a two-hatted restaurant--we were keen to toast the success of Justin and Georgia North, current darlings of the Sydney food scene.

The special six-course degustation ($130 plus wine) is themed around Australian organic and sustainable produce.

tomato tart
Puff pastry tart with tapenade, marinated tomato
and biodynamic Kervella goats'cheese

We are greeted with tomato tart canapes, a colourful trio of red, white and green on the lightest flakiest discs of puff pastry that melted into blissful nothingness on the tongue. The tomato is sweet, the goats' cheese is smooth, and its short-lived existence is all too fleeting.

Organic sourdough bread with
Harmonie Dutch organic cows' milk butter

Whetted appetites are held at bay by warm crusty organic sourdough rolls, fresh from the oven. We slather them generously with the accompanying Harmonie Dutch organic butter, so creamy and tasty I could eat it with a spoon.

Whilst we wait for our courses to arrive, we admire the plush yet cosy interiors. It is a welcoming restaurant, we agreed, with the perfect balance between decadent luxury and warm intimacy. Three giant halos of light, ringed with Swarowski crystals, hover angelically over diners on the ground floor. The sparkly pointed lights contrast with the earthy solidarity of carved wooden sculptures, which somehow tie together by continuing a circular theme.

Textured surfaces and hues of chocolate brown and cream also feature heavily. Heavy curtains in cream and brown ripple along one wall, the ceiling has a hanging white wave-like surface, and everyone confesses to touching the brown walls on their way to the bathrooms: the splodges of gold paint give a deceptive appearance of velour.

Our padded table are noticed by leaning elbows and even the chairs have a whimsical pattern of coloured dots that themselves are raised and tactile.

ocean trout
Cannelloni of Petuna ocean trout and sauce gribiche
with organic Boston Bay mussel beignets
and a salad of shaved fennel

Our first course arrives in a pretty geometric construction. A generous scroll of Petuna ocean trout contains a creamy sauce gribiche that has the delicate crunch of chopped cornichons. Two little parcels of organic Boston Bay mussels are wrapped up in a light-as-a-feather crisp golden batter.

murray river cod
Steamed Namoi River Murray cod
with a salad of Crystal Bay organic prawns and sauce vierge

At the first mouthful of the steamed Namoi River Murray cod, I know I have reached the likely highlight of my meal. The cod is beautifully cooked, and I take drawn-out delight in slowly eating each forkful layer by melting layer. The Crystal Bay organic prawns are small but intensely flavourful and the sauce vierge (meaning a virgin, or uncooked sauce) is well-seasoned.

Organic chicken ballotine and
pan-fried boudin blanc with buttered leeks,
leek puree, thyme emulsion and roast chicken jus

A ballotine is simply a parcel of meat filled with stuffing. The chicken is tender, although I think there's a little too much skin, and the boudin blanc (a French white sausage made with pork, veal or chicken and milk) is succulently smooth.

Roast fillet of "OBE" organic beef
with a saute of asparagus, baby lettuce and broad beans,
oxtail jus and creamed potato

OBE beef comes from an Australian collective made up of over 30 certified organic beef producers with a focus on international exports. The roast fillet of organic beef is pink in the middle and topped with crunchy shards of deep-fried shallot.

A sexy comma of potato is thick with butter and cream, and little morsels of oxtail sit in a sticky sweet puddle of jus. The lettuce and asparagus provide some vegetable relief although I wish I had more than one half of a plump green broadbean.

Macerated strawberries, Isigny creme fraiche and vanilla short cake

Macerated strawberries provide a welcome palate cleanser although its flattened appearance on the platter is a little forlorn, even with the quenelle of creme fraiche. The pile of vanilla shortcake smithereens is torturously sparse, as we eagerly seek out every last buttery crumb.

orange tart
Caramelised organic orange tart
with mint infused biodynamic yoghurt sorbet

There is clearly reasoning behind this restraint as ample deliciousness arrives in the form of a caramelised organic orange tart. The tart is sweet and eggy with a crisp shortcrust base and a heavenly crackle of toffee veneer. The bruleed top is gleefully smashed with a spoon, its sweetness tempered by the coolness of yoghurt sorbet. It's a winning combination. Just ask the Norths.

becasse interior

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Bécasse (CLOSED)
204 Clarence Street, Sydney
(between Market and Druitt)
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 3440

Lunch: Monday to Friday lunch 12.00pm – 2.30pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6.00pm – 10.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Becassé, Westfield Sydney - Chef's Table (May11)
Becassé, Westfield Sydney - Chef's Table (Jul11)
Becassé, Sydney - Vin de Champagne Awards (Sep10)
12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 10/04/2006 11:55:00 pm


  • At 10/05/2006 2:04 am, Blogger Yvo Sin said…

    beautiful. I want to eat it all!

  • At 10/05/2006 7:53 am, Blogger Jen said…

    Lucky you Helen! Looked like a great meal, especially the beef. Can't wait for more GFM action!

  • At 10/05/2006 9:43 am, Blogger Julia said…

    Oh Helen, what a great summation!

    The ocean trout with mussel beignets (!) looks fabulous and a clever mix of textures, I can taste it now.

    The meat dishes look impressive too, but I have to say that orange tart alone is making me consider going - it looks perfect! Especially paired with a yoghurt sorbet. I'm going to have to hunt down a recipe for something similar.

    Glad you had such a fantastic meal!

  • At 10/05/2006 10:00 am, Blogger Reb said…

    Yum -o - rama! It all looks utterly divine and wonderful descriptions and photos! I'm in there for 'Let's Do Lunch' in 2 weeks. We can compare notes!

  • At 10/05/2006 10:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    looks like a gorgeous meal helen...don't you just love this restaurant

  • At 10/05/2006 12:07 pm, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    You were right. Th Murray cod was my highlight as well.

    The salmon roe was curiously firm.

  • At 10/05/2006 3:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The problem in my eyes with degustation menus is I don't eat seafood or fish. :(

    I'm waiting for someone to review the nightly noodle-markets. They sound yummy.

  • At 10/05/2006 4:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i'm still dreaming of the obe beef and the oxtail jus. the beef was so deliciously pink! i always fall in love with the final main... and wish i could have it just once more.

    i think i'd like to go back to try the a la carte menu and the lunch degustation some time.

  • At 10/05/2006 5:57 pm, Blogger nic said…

    hi helen, ive been reading your blog for a while and love it. i check your blog everyday to see if there is any good places to go. after finding out your blog, i seem to have more fun in my life for going to the places that you have recommended.

    anyway, this is my first year to actually aware of the good food month. and i went to night noodle market last night. love it!

    i am interested to try one of hats off restaurant, but can you suggest me which one should i go since i am not familar with those restaurants and dun want to get disapointed.

    thank you and keep up your good work!

  • At 5/27/2007 11:19 pm, Blogger Nebbitt said…

    GF found out about it through your blog and took me there for my birthday... the exclamation point of a great weekend. Great restaurant, highly recommended. Thanks for letting her in on it!

  • At 12/30/2007 1:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I've been reading this blog for a few months now, ever since a friend pointed it out.

    My wife and I (both food and wine freaks)are moving to Sydney on Jan 1st from Edinburgh and this blog has had me drooling at the prospect. Thanks.

    A friend got us a $200 voucher for Becasse for Christmas, so I'll let you know what I think.

  • At 1/02/2008 8:31 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Rockett Fuel - Glad you enjoyed your meal. Nothing like a tasty exclamation point!

    Hi Pete - Welcome to Sydney and glad you're enjoying the blog! Do let me know how your meal goes - I haven't been back since so really I haven't had a chance to sample their usual menu. Happy feasting. Sydney has plenty of offer :)


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