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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ripples at Sydney Wharf, Pyrmont, Sydney - Chef's Table

Update: Ripples at Sydney Wharf has now closed. It has been replaced with LuMi Dining.

"Look! Look! There's fairy floss above our heads!"

This is just one moment of glee in a food-filled evening at Ripples Sydney Wharf.

We struggle at first to find the restaurant, looking for wharves nine and ten, before realising it's only a mere stroll from the grass of Pyrmont Bay Park, home of the Good Living Growers' Markets. There's a casual al fresco feel to the restaurant, the dining area set up directly on the wharf timber, a canopy and plastic sheeting offering protection from the elements.

Tonight it's cold, wet and miserable, yet the warmth from the heat lamps is easily trapped in by the sheeting, and the clear plastic allows amazing uninterrupted views of a twinkling Sydney Harbour.

The kitchen and bathrooms are housed in a separate structure fronted with floor to ceiling panels of glass. The chefs look directly onto the diners and the view outside, and tonight they're also facing a gaggle of seven food bloggers, invited by Prue from The Mint Partners to officially christen the Chef's Table.

The Chef's Table

Only a low-set panel of glass separates a narrow gangplank of diners from the hubbub of kitchen activity. Literally a nose away from all the action, we marvel at the mis en place, we peer at the pots and pans on the stove, we somewhat feel sorry for the chefs who contend with constant inquisitive staring and/or the incessant click of camera shutters.

Head chef Richard Park

The chefs, to their credit, and more than hospitable. Head chef, Richard Park, happily chats to us in moments of quiet, and he assures us he finds our incessant photography "fun to watch".

Preparing the scallops

Adding the dressing

Spring Bay scallop with fennel salad

We start with new season Spring Bay scallops, sweet morsels that are served with shavings of fennel salad and drizzled with a tangy vinaigrette.

Crusty French epi with tapenade and pesto butter $8

Several chopping boards are dispensed along the counter, a mixed offering of warm and crusty pointed French epi rolls alongside ramekins of pesto butter, anchovy butter and olive tapenade.

Duck liver parfait $11
with cranberry jelly, onion marmalade and pickled prune

The duck liver parfait is the one that gets my heart a-thumping. We pierce our way past the glistening ruby-red layer of cranberry jelly to reveal the smooth richness of a sublime duck liver parfait.

Duck liver pate

The onion marmalade is chunky and sweet and there's a welcome softness to the plump Earl Grey tea infused prunes.

Entrees at the ready on the 12-metre long white marble bar

The arrival of entrees necessitates a dance known as the food blogger side-step as we patiently and methodically skirt around each other to capture each and every body's dishes.

Grilled calves liver $16
with parmesan braised witlof, rosemary, red wine jus

I've ordered the calves liver, a generous serving of three large slices resting on a lake of aromatic red wine jus. Reem comments that she enjoys this as the flavour is quite subdued. I, on the other hand, am secretly pining for thicker chunkier slices so I can relish its buttery texture. I do like the garnish of rosemary, a single sprig coated in tempura batter and deep-fried, its flavour not overpowering and a pleasant finish to the dish.

Twice baked goats cheese souffle $18
with onion and thyme soubise

The twice-baked goats cheese souffle has an airy eggy texture tempered by a base note of goats cheese. The oysters are also well received, particularly the freshly shucked version which is doused with a white wine and sherry vinegar dressing.

Freshly opened oysters with mignonette dressing $3.60 each

Warm oysters with leek fondue and goats cheese sauce $3.70 each

Plating our mains

Sydney Wharf's signature bouillabaisse $29
with garlic bread and rouille

On a wintry evening, the signature bouillabaisse is an easy decision to chase away the blues. A heavy saffron-scented fish soup contains a fisherman's haul of mussels, whitefish, salmon, prawn, scallop and a giant crab claw. The crab claw is a little bland in flavour but the piped squiggles of rouille-a garlic, saffron and cayenne-flavoured mayonnaise--has plenty of spark. The meltingly soft fillet of salmon is also a winner.

Ripples' famous fish and chips $24
with homemade tartare sauce and lemon

Fish and chips are said to be one of Ripples' most popular offerings, particularly at lunchtime, with reports that they often get an entire table ordering fish and chips, with a side salad as calorific countenance.

Duck leg confit $25
with frisee salad, hazelnuts and a seeded mustard dressing

There's a chorus of oohs and ahhs over the duck leg confit, a crisp veneer of pan-fried skin belying the tender fresh of poultry beneath. Similar coos erupt over the arrival of the six hour braised lamb breast, a pastry-wrapped column that promises treasures within.

Six hour braised lamb breast $29
with petits peas bonne femme and green olive salsa

Billy can barely contain his grin of delight once his fork breaks through the pastry skin. The lamb falls apart in silky strands, the meat so rich it's almost buttery.

Rabbit fricasse $28
with mushrooms, lardons and potato dumplings

The rabbit fricasse is a hearty stew made richer with lardons and mushrooms. Potato dumplings are akin to pan-fried gnocchi.

Potato dumplings

Pan seared kingfish $29
on gnocchi parisian with olives, braised fennel and baby eggplant

Pan seared kingfish is a touch tacky on the teeth, but boosted by the sweet caramelisation of baby eggplant and disc of herbed butter. A side of Lyonnaise potatoes is soft and buttery within.

Lyonnaise potatoes $7.50

A dilemma over what to order for dessert is quickly resolved by the kitchen: we're to sample one of each!

Apple tarte tatin and vanilla bean ice cream $12

Grand marnier creme caramel with cigarette russe $12

Leatherwood honey and goats curd parfait $13
with poached quinces and fairy floss

Leatherwood honey and goats curd parfait in a ginger biscuit

There's a non-stop murmur of musing and a series of slow nods as we meander our way through the dessert parade. Whilst the warm chocolate and hazelnut pudding is made for sweet tooths, the surprise hit of the evening is the leatherwood honey and goats curd parfait, the ginger biscuit spicy with crunch, balanced by the slight tang of the goats curd parfait and the tartness of the stewed quinces. A cloud of Persian fairy floss perches on top.

Warm chocolate and hazelnut pudding $14
with chocolate ice cream and nut toffee

Chocolate money shot

Chocolate pyramid with pistachio and raspberry sorbet

As the evening draws to a close, Reem and I check out the funky looking dining chairs outside. Designed with only a narrow tapered back, we're surprised to find they sit beneath your shoulder blades for a very comfortable fit.

And as for dining at the Chef's Table, I think the concept suits me perfectly as well.

Grab Your Fork dined courtesy of Ripples at Sydney Wharf, with thanks to Prue from The Mint Partners.
Thanks also to the fine food blogging company of Billy from A Table for Two; Jen from Jenius; Lisa from Spicy IceCream; Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella; Mel from Fooderati; and Reem from I Am Obsessed with Food.

View Larger Map
Ripples Sydney Wharf on Urbanspoon
Update: Ripples at Sydney Wharf has now closed. It has been replaced with LuMi Dining.
Wharf 10, 56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9571 1999

11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/01/2009 03:59:00 am


  • At 7/01/2009 8:55 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    I have never eaten at a chef's table. So green with envy right now. I love the look of the slow braised lamb and the grand marnier creme caramel.

  • At 7/01/2009 9:15 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    You guys picked some pretty good dishes, love the look of the fairy floss dessert. The value looks good as well, the mains look like they are all under $30. You'd be hard pressed to find some restaurants in less lavish real estate than Sydney Wharf with mains under $30!

  • At 7/01/2009 10:34 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    chef's table sounds like a great idea although was the high seating a little uncomfortable for a long period of time? I'd probably prefer my feet to be touching the ground.

  • At 7/01/2009 11:41 am, Anonymous fooderati said…

    Such a great meal, spent with great people...I reckon this version of Ripples is set to be a firm favourite amongst Sydney Siders.

  • At 7/01/2009 11:42 am, Anonymous Trisha said…

    I will go the distance for a great fish n chips! And I always always love chocolate money shots hahaha - there's something seductive about chocolate suspended in time. Shame I can't lick my computer screen >.<

  • At 7/01/2009 3:29 pm, Blogger Bean Sprout's Cafe said…

    Oh, my ! The Six hour braised lamb breast looks seriously gooddddd..... also the rabbit ><

  • At 7/01/2009 5:13 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    Love your chocolate money shot! I only can imagine it in slow motion.... ho hor hor... I have to agree the hair chair is uncomfortable at times and feels like I am always slipping away while leaning over to peer inside the kitchen :P

  • At 7/01/2009 6:27 pm, Anonymous divemummy said…

    The chairs look intriguing - I think I have to agree with Simon - definitely would rather have my feet on the ground if I was going to savour a delicious meal. It all looks scrumptious!

    Hmm...I can already picture you know who's eyes glazing over at the mention of slow-braised lamb....

  • At 7/01/2009 7:34 pm, Blogger lex said…

    nicee.. I never thought Ripples food would be so french considering it's owned by greeks haha but there's plenty of skill in that food :D how do you eat so much?

  • At 7/01/2009 8:41 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    The chairs do look interesting, and it's great to hear they're comfy. The food looks lovely, especially the chocolate sauce.

  • At 7/02/2009 3:07 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Tara - I love that many Japanese restaurants offer a quasi-Chef's Table at their sushi bar. The lamb was divine and the creme caramel had a lovely flavour too.

    Hi Howard - I think we picked most of the dishes! lol. Not many double-ups which was good too. The dishes do seem quite reasonably priced given the location.

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - The bar stools did take some getting used to, mainly because they rotated and had a gas lever. I got used to it though, besides it was necessary to have some height so we could watch them cooking!

    Hi Fooderati - It's a great location. Would actually be a great pit-stop for brunch/lunch after the Growers' Markets too!

    Hi Trisha - Ha, I love the anticipation associated with the suspended chocolate sauce too. And lol, it was painful editing the photos and reliving the tastes when I was writing the post!

    Hi Bean Sprout's Cafe - The lamb breast was amazing. It's not a common offering in restaurants but I don't see why not. So succulent and melt-in-the-mouth.

    Hi Billy - lol. I had multiple money shots to choose from! The chair took some getting used to, I agree :)

    Hi divemummy - Feet on the ground, or nose in the kitchen. Dilemma dilemma!

    And yes, I think the slow-braised lamb would definitely be a hit.

    Hi Lex - lol. Touche! How do I eat so much? Ha, all too easily I'm afraid!

    Hi Arwen - I was really surprised by the outdoor dining chairs. Who knew there was so much excess plastic in many of our chairs? lol.


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