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Monday, February 18, 2008

Forty One Restaurant, Sydney

EDIT: Forty One Restaurant has now closed

The view from the women's bathroom.

This is the one thing that diners consistently mention when talking about Forty One.

Our trip to the bathroom has as much anticipation as our meal, and with one look at the floor-to-ceiling windows, the flooding of natural light, and the sweeping views over the Sydney CBD, we can understand why people say they're often tempted to sink into a chair and never exit.

But that would mean no chance to savour the food, and I'd been curious to sample a full menu by Dietmar Sawyere after sampling one of his dishes at an Oxfam fundraising dinner in 2006.

The menu offers three different starters, three entrees and a choice of seven mains. Perhaps what is more distracting is the liberal and unnecessary use of italics for various "foreign" words like "jus", "puree", "confit" and "brisket". The pedantic in me wonders why Peccorino qualifies for italics but Reggiano does not. The purist in me wonders why italics are needed at all.

Our complimentary sourdough rolls are warm with a rich chewy crust. Wines arrive shortly after, Geet opting for the 2006 Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand ($13.00), whilst I sup on the 2005 Lucien Albrecht Pinot Gris from Alsace Paris ($13.00). The Staete Landt is amazingly fragrant, with an intense bouquet of passionfruit; my Lucien Albrecht is light and fairly sweet, a refreshing tipple for a sometime drinker.

Pastilla of Chinese roast duck
with a remoulade of celeriac, wild rocket and hand-picked crab meat

The Punter had asked me what a pastilla was. I had pondered that perhaps it was referring to the bastilla, the famous Moroccan dish of pigeon, cinnamon and layers of flaky puff pastry (it tastes much better than it sounds). So the eventual appearance of what is essentially a roast duck spring roll surprises me, but pleases the punter. I remain confused.

Grilled sea scallops with cauliflower puree,
green apple reduction and tapenade

I'd opted for the grilled sea scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree, a pairing often associated with Gordon Ramsay. The scallops were fat, fresh and superbly moist, the caulifower puree smooth and creamy. I found the olive tapenade a little overwhelming against the delicacy of the scallops, but then I tend to prefer my seafood accompaniments simple and understated.

Boneless rack of Castricum lamb
with aubergine confit and shallot jus

Geet and The Punter both order the boneless rack of Castricum lamb. It's soft and delicate although Geet is a little apprehensive about the pinkness of it all, particularly as she'd requested medium when asked on her cooking preference.

The accompanying mashed potato, served in a gorgeous copper pot, is wonderfully rich and buttery. I end up having more than a spoonful without too much encouragement.

Creamy mashed potato (served with the lamb)

Forty One steak tartare, roast shallots and mushrooms
with pommes pont neuf

I couldn't go past the Forty One steak tartare which arrives as a multi-plated banquet for one.

Steak tartare

The shavings of beef are meltingly tender, dressed in a marinade of Worcestershire, pepper and freshly chopped herbs. A single quail egg yolk appears lost on a rink of red. Considering the richness of the meat, it's an enormous portion, especially as it's surrounded by delicious roasted shallots and morsels of earthy field mushrooms.

Pommes pont neuf (thick cut fries)

The pommes pont neuf (thick cut fries) are very disappointing - only a few are crisp, the majority are limp and soggy with grease. Two thick slices of sourdough are deliciously crisp, although being a tartare novice, it's not until the next day that I realise that steak tartare is usually spread onto the bread before consumption.

Green salad
(with steak tartare)

The final accompanying green salad has a lovely tangy dressing, and it's the only thing I finish completely. The pot of chips remain largely untouched, as do the stomach-filling slices of sourdough toast.

White chocolate and Christmas pudding parfait
with kirsch macerated cherries

That's because one must save room for dessert.

Geet is rapturous about the white chocolate and Christmas pudding parfait [okay, yes, I'm posting about this meal a little late - we ate here in late December 2007 (!!)]. The pyrmaid of ice cream and Christmas pudding is adorned with gold leaf and surrounded by a huddle of kirsch macerated cherries.

Pear sorbet and pear compote
with poire William eau de vie

The Punter has the pear sorbet and pear compote, an elegant offering that is ceremoniously drenched with a very alcoholic pear liquer at the table.

Lemon tart, basil mascarpone sorbet
and aubergine crisps

I have the lemon tart, a sweet wedge that could have been tarter, paired with a subtle basil mascarpone sorbet and an amazing shard of dehydrated eggplant, reminding me in texture of deep-fried apple chip but with a distinct taste of eggplant.

Petit fours
Clockwise from L: chocolate truffle, passionfruit gelee, pecan pie,
ginger snap and caramel fudge

Petit fours follow along with cups of coffee and pots of Earl Grey tea. We're reluctant to abandon our city views but every girl must eventually leave the ladies bathroom.

View Larger Map

EDIT: Forty One Restaurant has now closed
The Chifley Tower
2 Chifley Square, Sydney
(corner of Hunter and Phillip Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9221 2500

Lunch: Tuesday to Friday 12.00pm-2.30pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6.00pm-10.00pm

Prices as at Feb 2008
Lunch two courses including coffee, tea and friandises $65
Lunch three courses including coffee, tea and friandises $80
Lunch four courses including coffee, tea and friandises $95

Dinner four courses including coffee, tea and friandises $130
Dinner five courses including coffee, tea and friandises $140
Dinner six courses including coffee, tea and friandises $150

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Other posh eats
Becasse, Sydney
Summit Restaurant
Tetsuya's, Sydney
9 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/18/2008 01:13:00 am


  • At 2/18/2008 3:02 am, Blogger Terri @ A Daily Obsession said…

    whoa! what a classy meal! n your pics do justice to the exquisite dishes.

  • At 2/18/2008 9:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i agree with Terri - your photos are great, Helen!

  • At 2/19/2008 11:52 am, Blogger The Caffeine Lady said…

    I fell in love with Forty One a few months ago, though I've yet to try it.

    I feel almost compelled to visit after this fabulous post of yours.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • At 2/19/2008 3:34 pm, Blogger S.V. Bristol Rose said…

    what I wouldn't give....
    thanks for a fabulous "tour" of your amazing meal.

  • At 2/20/2008 2:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow this looks good. I like the look of that lamb; I would've described it as medium (perhaps to the rare side of medium) from your photo. Question is did they rest it for long enough so that it doesn't leak? That's one of my rules of thumb for a reasonable restaurant. And the Christmas pudding ice cream - as one of your other readers says - what I wouldn't give...!

  • At 2/21/2008 1:32 am, Blogger YU said…

    The desserts look divine. As usual I love reading your blog.

  • At 2/21/2008 1:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    the scallops and the lamb look amazing - beautiful pictures of beautiful dishes.

    as if i didn't already want to visit sydney.

  • At 2/21/2008 3:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Apparently the view from the men's bathroom is the best-I'll ask my husband to take that photo if we go there as I draw the line at entering the men's in the name of food blogging lol. The food looks great, its been so long since my last visit but I loved the fact that tables were at a good distance from each other for maximum privacy. The food still looks great!

  • At 2/23/2008 11:00 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Terri - It was a lovely meal indeed :) and thanks. Elegant plating is often half the photo :)

    Hi Lindsey - Thanks. Lunchtime meals are always easier!

    Hi M - Ah so would that be lust, or love? I hope you do make it there soon to find out :)

    Hi S.V Bristol Rose - Glad you enjoyed the tour.

    Hi Jax - I think Christmas pudding ice cream should be available year 'round!

    Hi Yu - Thanks. Glad you're enjoying the site. And yes, a great dessert is always a highlight of one's meal.

    Hi Michelle - You'll have to visit sometime soon :)

    Hi Lorraine - Excellent. We need some boy spy-cam!


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