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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fondue at JPB Restaurant, Swissotel, Sydney


Give them food on a stick. And let them dip.

A last-minute dinner suggestion by Billy sees a flurry of emails, a hungry surf of the web and finally a booking at JPB Restaurant at the Swissôtel for a night of fondue.

Simon and Yas are also grabbing their fondue fork, and Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin--who happen to be in town idling for dinner--also join our fooding crew. I'm bemused when, as I make introductions, I take a moment to clarify, "this is Pig Flyin", and then watch Simon's face change from passivity to utter entrancement. I don't blame him. If I were in his position, I would too.

Fondue forks

We're at JPB for two reasons.

Because fondue is fun.

And because we can buy one Swiss fondue Chinoise and get one free*.

Cheese fondue $27
Traditional cheese fondue with gruyere, appenzeller and tilsiter cheese
served with baguette bread

The smell of molten cheese wafts with tantalising persistence throughout the dining room and we make no hesitation in ordering a pot of cheese fondue to share amongst the table. It's a heady mixture of strong sharp cheeses and a generous slosh of white wine that boils and bubbles in a cast iron pot.

Fondue originated as a means of using up old stored cheeses and stale bread in winter by heating the cheese until molten and using the dried bread to dip and eat.

Our bread is fresh and soft and there's a great sense of fun as we fight over the last scraps of cheese. As someone who tends to find fondue quite rich, the shared portion between six is actually perfect as an appetiser.

Dipping bread into the cheese fondue

Fondue Chinoise buffet $42 per person
Unlimited fresh seafood, meats and salad

Patrons who have chosen the Fondue Chinoise help themselves to a buffet that includes beef, veal, pork, kangaroo, prawns, calamari, salmon and cod. We count over a dozen different sauces and dressings with which to annoint your cooked meat.

Raw prawns

Veal and kangaroo

Salad from the buffet

Whilst we're waiting for our Chinoise broth, we help ourselves to the salad bar, an offering that includes raw and cooked vegetables, components of a Caesar salad and an odd assortment of pickled mustard fruits and tinned peaches and pears.

My first platter: pork, veal, beef, kangaroo, calamari and cod

I'm quite taken with the plates you use to choose your selection of meat and seafood, a heavy glass compartmentalised platter. I have to confess I went into autopilot mode and presumed I was gathering food for the entire table, being so used to Chinese steamboat buffets where this practice is norm. Only when I returned did I realise I had to eat all of this.

Magically, I did.

Mrs Pig Flyin's first platter

Mrs Pig Flyin has the deal down pat. Not only does she possess self-control, she's also extraordinarily neat in her food gathering and display too.

Simon's first platter

Simon, on the other hand, is not afraid to flex his appetite.

The fondue Chinoise is, of course, a Chinese fondue - essentially a fancy version of Chinese steamboat except instead of a huge cauldron of stock and an array of chopsticks and fishing baskets, we use a small fondue pot and fondue forks.

Each dining pair is allocated two fondue pots - one for cooking meat and one for cooking seafood. We presumed there was a difference in the broths but to be honest, we couldn't really tell.

Each person has two fondue forks of the same colour for easy identification. It means you can only cook two pieces of meat or seafood at any one time, a more elegant and slow-paced affair than the usual Chinese method of "let's throw in everything now and start fishing madly in about two minutes".

Roasted potatoes

As part of the Fondue Chinoise, the table is provided with a serve of roasted potatoes, allegedly "straight from the woodfire oven".

My second plate: prawns, salmon and cod with mustard fruits

Mustard fruits are a particular highlight, sweet and sticky with a slightly nose-tingling heat from the mustard seeds. And I actually enjoy the tinned peaches and pears as a sort of palate cleanser.

The seafood is the winner at the buffet, the prawns flavoursome and sweet, and the cod is soft and tender. I find the calamari a tad tricky to cook, trying to finding the balance between raw and overcooked.

A generosity of protein, salad and roasted potatoes soon makes an impact on my fading stomach.

Cooked prawn

And yet, did someone say dessert?

The mere word snaps our heads to attention, backs straight and eyes a little wider. We don't require much encouragement to agree a dessert fondue should be ordered.

Chocolate fondue $16
Melted milk chocolate with assorted sliced fruits

Chocolate cake, marshmallows, strawberries,
pineapple, honeydew and rockmelon

A platter of chocolate cake, marshmallows and tropical fruits is soon coated in a generous slather of melted chocolate and consumed with eagerness. There's something undeniably sexy about warm melted chocolate...

Chocolate-dipped strawberry

The platter of fruit runs out well before the chocolate, and determined not to let it go to waste I head to the salad buffet in hunt of croutons and return with a plate of...

Chocolate dipping plate

Why not have some fun? We seize the opportunity to dip random ingredients into the chocolate remnants.

Verdict: corn and olives are particularly bad, salad leaves are okay, and bacon? Oh yeah, baby, that salty chocolatey goodness is crazy tasty.

I'm not sure the Swiss would approve.

View Larger Map
Jpb Restaurant on Urbanspoon

JPB Restaurant
Swissôtel Sydney
Level 8, 68 Market Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel: +61 (02) 9238 8888

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 7am-10pm
Saturday and Sunday 7am-10am, then 6pm-10pm

The Fondue Chinoise is available Monday to Saturday from 6pm
Bookings are strongly recommended

*The Enliven Your Senses buy one get one free offer expires July 31, 2009
- make sure you quote 'VIVID' when you make your booking and
bring a copy of the Enliven Your Senses card when you dine.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Cheese fondue with friends
Chocolate fondue party

Shangri-La Cafe Mix buffet
Sheraton Four Points Corn Exchange buffet

Sheraton on the Park Botanica Brasserie buffet
Swissotel Crossroads Bar High Tea (Jan09), (Nov06) , (Jun06) and (Oct05)
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/22/2009 01:22:00 am


  • At 7/22/2009 2:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmm, all the food looks delicious! I've never come across the concept of a cheese fondue before, though it looks like fun!

  • At 7/22/2009 6:20 am, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Mmmmm the cheese and chocolate looks so good... Ahhh have been wanting to come here for ages! Oh and at first I wasn't sure if you could use the 2 for 1 deal for a large group but thanks for clarifying that! :)

  • At 7/22/2009 7:37 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Between meeting up with the famous Pig Flyin, the cheese pot and the prawns, it was a really fun do! :)

  • At 7/22/2009 9:52 am, Blogger K said…

    Mmmm... bacon and chocolate, drool.

  • At 7/22/2009 10:08 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Haha I love the things you picked for the chocolate fondue! What a shame the corn didn't taste good I love corn in desserts :(

  • At 7/22/2009 10:12 am, Blogger Miss Honey said…

    Eee fondue! My other (Swiss) half is still looking for a decent fondue place in Sydney with the proper cheese mix, so we'll have to try this place. I on the other hand - sucker for cheese in any form lol...

  • At 7/22/2009 11:05 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    Wow, this looks like fun!
    You can never go wrong with a chocolate fondue to end a dinner

  • At 7/22/2009 11:09 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Looks like lots of fun. Can't believe I still have not popped by fondue cherry.

    Not sure if I would pay full price though.

  • At 7/22/2009 12:21 pm, Anonymous clekitty said…

    Thanks for letting me know about the deal! Will definitely be going :)

  • At 7/22/2009 7:07 pm, Anonymous Tina said…

    Mmmm, chocolate bacon - a match made in heaven!

  • At 7/22/2009 9:02 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    Dipping savouries in chocolate fondue sounds a little odd, but the other parts sound delicious. I've never had cheese fondue, but I can see I'll have to fix that.

  • At 7/22/2009 11:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Aww so the cheese fondue was not buffet? :( Need to find one... but I think I would prefer Helen made cheese fondue hee hee

  • At 7/22/2009 11:57 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    Interesting concept, thank goodness for the by 1 get 1 free deal! I'm going to Bottanica Brasserie next week I hope it's half decent as it's been years since I last went.

  • At 7/23/2009 12:41 am, Anonymous Mr. Taste @ tastedbytwo said…

    The little fondue pots remind me of a hotpot place I had in China where everyone had their own little burner and pot.

    I've never had cheese fondue too - not enough fondue places here in Sydney. There's a fondue franchise in the States that has like 150 restaurants. They need to expand out here!

    Also LOL at the chocolate baby corn

  • At 7/23/2009 2:05 am, Anonymous Yas said…

    Hmmm cheeese. (though it was pretty much GONE by the time I got there!! lol)

    It was great meeting Mr. & Mrs. Pig Flyin! It's pretty funny I recognize people with their blogs/nicknames than their real names LOL

  • At 7/23/2009 1:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sounds good enough to eat, I've booked a table. Really similar sounding to chinese hotpot which I love to make. The man taking my booking had NO idea about the buy 1 get 1 free deal when I booked so I hope it isn't a problem.

  • At 7/24/2009 2:33 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Ten - Oh a cheese fondue is lots of fun. They tend to have quite a strong white wine flavour but you can always control that if you make your own at home!

    Hi Trisha - I'm not sure if there's a maximum number in the group allowed, but check the website for all the conditions.

    Hi Simon - A fun do indeed! lol.

    Hi K - Bacon and chocolate is a great combo. I must do it more often.

    Hi Stephcookie - I love sweet corn ice cream but unfortunately corn spears didn't quite cut it with melted chocolate! lol

    Hi Miss Honey - I'm not sure if they use the proper cheese mix. Have you tried making your own at home? A perfect meal for two :)

    Hi Brenda - I agree. Chocolate fondue should be on more dessert menus!

    Hi Veruca Salt - Oh we must fix that soon. The Chinoise fondue was quite good in that there was plenty of quality meat and seafood.

    Hi clekitty - No problems. Make sure you mention the Vivid offer when booking and bring a print-out of the downloadable card.

    Hi Tina - I agree. No wonder you can buy bacon chocolate!

    Hi Arwen - We were just having fun with the savouries in chocolate - and I did learn that baconand chocolate really do go together.

    Would recommend cheese fondue. Lots of fun!

    Hi FFichiban - Sorry, no cheese fondue buffet! And haha, I'll be posting the recipe soon!

    Hi Howard - Oh yes I do love a good bogof deal. It's been a while since I've been there too. Have fun. I'm sure you'll eat us proud :)

    Hi Mr Taste - I've never had a personal hotpot - sounds like fun!

    I guess we don't really have cold enough weather for fondue to go mainstream, and lol, chocolate on corn spears is not something I'd recommend!

    Hi Yas - You were lucky you got any at all. lol. And yes, it is strange how many people we know "online" but not in real life. lol.

    Hi 12ontheinside - You need to mention the word "Vivid" when you make the booking. Make sure you check out the conditions on the link provided above and bring a print-out of the card which you can download from the site.

    Hi theresa - There's only one week left to redeem the bogof offer :)

  • At 10/09/2009 1:41 am, Anonymous eden said…

    OMG I'm going to go here on Saturday!!
    Can't waiiiit, so glad you blogged about this because the Swissotel website has NOTHING about it there !!

  • At 10/13/2009 2:04 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Eden - Hope you had fun. It's a shame when restaurants don't have more information about their menus and offerings, but I guess that's where food blogs come in handy :)


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