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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Becasse, Sydney (CLOSED)

becasse black olive biscotti with whipped goats' curd
Black olive biscotti with whipped goats' curd

EDIT: Becasse has closed

I am in love.

His name is Butter and he likes to be whipped.

Like so many great things in life, he's not an attention seeker but tucked away quietly in the corner. He's not even listed on our dinner menu tonight at Bécasse , the inaugural monthly Cellar Night where patrons can bring their own bottle of wine to dinner for waived corkage.

The Cellar Night an opportunity for diners to bring their favourite drop but also a chance to perhaps dust off a special bottle from the cellar, ones that are saved for celebrations but rarely able to be brought along and savoured in fine dining restaurants. Half the fun is matching a wine to the five course menu, details of which are advised in advance.

We start proceedings with a canape of wafer-thin black olive biscotti, the salty garnish of finely diced olive tempered by a wispy mound of light and airy tangy goats' curd.

freshly baked Becasse smoked bacon and onion bread
Freshly baked Becasse smoked bacon and onion bread
with whipped smoked butter and
herb-infused olive oil with volcanic salt

An in-house baked bread roll is served warm, stuffed generously with smoked bacon and caramelised onion and closed into a rustic pocket. Herb-infused olive oil is served as a soft but distinct cube, set using xanthan gum, and dusted with small flecks of black volcanic salt.

I turn my attention to the other saucer, and that's when I meet him. Mr Quenelle of Whipped Butter. Beaten and aerated, the butter is the colour of cotton, and just as soft. The butter is light, smoky in undertone, and dusted with the faintest sprinkle of salt. Eating it on the bread is a waste. I savour it on its own, shamelessly closing my eyes to relish its every nuance.

"Would you like more bread?" our perfectly tailored waitress asks, when she notices our empty plate.

"I just want more of that butter!" I say, half-joking but with a look of intent in my eye. She hustles away smiling, returning quickly with more.

Becasse Marinated tuna with chilled Mediterranean consomme and prosciutto
Marinated tuna with chilled Mediterranean consomme and prosciutto

Marinated tuna arrives next, velvety smooth and served with a quivering pile of Mediterranean consomme, chilled to a jelly-like consistency. Delicate strips of prosciutto nestle beneath a cascade of golden crumbs.

Becasse Confit blue eye with roasted prawns, cauliflower and salted buckwheat
Confit blue eye with roasted prawns, cauliflower and salted buckwheat

Confit of blue eye is a beautiful plate to look at, a visually pleasing path of colours and textures that starts and ends with a hillock of blissfully smooth and creamy cauliflower puree. Meandering my way through the splay of micro leaves and the hopscotch of miso sauce, I take my time to enjoy the confit blue eye, the elegant crumbed roasted prawns, and the gravel of salted buckwheat. Tiny blocks of compressed cucumber - compacted using a cryovac machine - have a crunchy sweetness more akin to celery.

Becasse Cepe royale with seared scallop and caramelised veal tongue
Cepe royale with seared scallop and caramelised veal tongue

We sink our forks effortlessly into the cepe royale, a mushroom mousse that sits on two thin slices of veal tongue. Turrets of roasted parsnip stand by seared scallop halves. The veal tongue is the most intriguing item, sliced vertically so the natural curl of the tongue is neither disguised nor scorned.

Becasse caramelised pork hock with forgotten vegetables
Caramelised pork hock with forgotten vegetables and cedar smoked potatoes

Our final savoury dish is hearty but humble, thick cuts of caramelised pork hock served with what head chef and co-owner Justin North says are forgotten vegetables. Chunks of swede, kumera sweet potato and kohlrabi are a tribute to the vegetables of his childhood, and ones that should be remembered more often.

Curls of pork crackling shatter on impact, and we relish the accompanying serve of cedar-smoked confit potatoes.

becasse cedar smoked potatoes
Cedar-smoked potatoes

Becasse cheese plate
Old Telegraph Road cheese selection
with sugared walnuts and fig preserve

A platter of Old Telegraph Road cheeses prepares our palate for dessert, a trio of creamy brie, a Fire Engine Red washed rind that is particularly pungent, and a triangle of Sapphire Blue. The saltiness of the blue is brilliant with the sugared walnuts -- fresh and crisp -- and the splodge of sweet fig preserve.

Becasse twice baked quince souffle with spiced anglaise, candied orange and vanilla ice cream
Twice baked quince souffle
with spiced anglaise, candied orange and vanilla ice cream

If there's one thing I've noticed about Becasse is that they never skimp on dessert. The twice baked quince souffle is a sunbaked dome that looks more like a puffy baked Taiwanese bread. Its texture is anything but, the golden hued dessert offering little resistance to our eagerly clutched forks.

The souffle tastes of comforting custard yet is superbly light and airy, as though a bread-and-butter-pudding has been injected with helium. Soft-baked quince, candied citrus and fresh mint leaves add sparks of colour and flavour. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is seductively smooth.

Becasse petit four
Petit fours: Pear jube; vanilla bean and chocolate ganache macaron; carrot cake

Petit fours accompany our tea and coffee. Little morsels of carrot cake are topped with cream cheese icing, macarons are sweet and delicate, although perhaps a little too generous with chocolate ganache.

Pear jubes are the surprising highlight, soft-set jellies that are fruity and a little tart, our teeth crunching against the granulated sugar coating.

It's surprising how a small plate of petit fours can bring forth such a wide smile. But the whipped butter? He brings an even bigger grin.

Becasse kitchen

The next Bécasse cellar night will be held on Tuesday 3 August 2010 and costs $150 per person (includes first bottle corkage per person).

- Canapé
- Bécasse Artisan Bread
- Amuse bouche of citrus marinated bonito salad of braised octopus
- Bone marrow custard, smoked eel and prosciutto
- Fresh black truffle risotto, Jerusalem artichoke and mushroom
- Braised ballottine of organic wagyu beef shin with smashed carrots and Swede
- Truffle brie and candied quince
- Chocolate, chestnut and vanilla mont blanc, caramel and date purée, coconut ice cream

Grab Your Fork dined as a guest of Bécasse

View Larger Map
Becasse on Urbanspoon

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, Sydney - Vin de Champagne Awards (Sep10)
26 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/14/2010 01:35:00 am


  • At 7/14/2010 4:27 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Good to see top restaurants like Becasse having a cellar night - I really miss the Australian BYO culture

  • At 7/14/2010 5:59 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    i want some of this magical butter!

  • At 7/14/2010 9:19 am, Blogger lex said…

    Delicious! I love Becasse! Looks impressive as always.

    I have food envy, I want to be you Helen!! Guest of Becasse!! Jealous!!

  • At 7/14/2010 9:37 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    It's funny, because I don't find Becasse all that exciting, and prefer Etch instead. Great photos!

  • At 7/14/2010 11:33 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    I adore your photos - and butter makes the world a happier place, yes it does =)

    Becasse looks beautiful. YAY for being a guest!!

  • At 7/14/2010 11:38 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    Nice, this concept of BYO is cool, especially at restaurants of this calibre. Btw loving the larger photos!

  • At 7/14/2010 12:11 pm, Blogger Hannah said…

    Best. Opening. Line. Ever.

    I might try to steal him from you, though. I go weak at the knees for smoky flavours, too.

    Gah! Cedar-smoked potatoes!

    Double gah! Mont blanc?! That's my favourite dessert in the world. DAMN YOU CANBERRA AND YOUR BEING-MY-HOME-NESS!!

  • At 7/14/2010 1:43 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pigflyin said…

    I love cellar nights! Most of us don't have the skills to cook something nice enough to go with "that" special bottle, the worst part is someone will need to do the dishes afterward and all the goodness from the great wine would be undone :P

  • At 7/14/2010 3:30 pm, Anonymous Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said…

    Helen! We've never heard this provocative side of you! But I totally understand what you mean about good butter. Great photos too - showcases the food so beautifully!

  • At 7/14/2010 7:48 pm, Blogger Laura said…

    i want to be you. i love your photographs!

  • At 7/14/2010 9:29 pm, Anonymous Amy @ cookbookmaniac said…

    I've yet to dine at Becasse. Let alone any two-three hatted restaurant. It is however first on my list for the boy to take me to for our 10year anniversary. hopefully he'll be paying *wink* Everything looks so amazing!

  • At 7/14/2010 10:39 pm, Anonymous thang @ noodlies.com said…

    Wow everything looks so delicate and delicious, Helen!

  • At 7/14/2010 11:13 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    You unabashed butter hussy, you! Hehe =p

    My mother, in her youth, famously stuck a square of butter in her mouth but accidentally swallowed before it had melted, and spent the next half hour downing warm drinks to melt it down her throat!

  • At 7/15/2010 5:42 am, Blogger Linda Vandermeer McCubbin said…

    Everything looked so good, what great photography.

  • At 7/15/2010 7:27 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Never been a fan of whipped butter but your description has me salivating.

  • At 7/15/2010 7:10 pm, Blogger Gummi Baby said…

    The whole meal sounds sensational, there's usually one or two courses in a meal like this that don't go down well but I liked the look and sound of everything, specially that dessert plate! Pear jubes, how decadent! And no, you can never have too much chocolate ganache! : D

  • At 7/15/2010 10:15 pm, Blogger shaz said…

    Butter is the best :) Love the sound of your meal, it sounds amazing and looks so aesthetically appealing too.

  • At 7/15/2010 10:21 pm, Blogger Viv said…

    Mr Quenelle sounds yummy :D Love looking at your photos...Becasse is a block from work and I've been wanting to try for ages!

  • At 7/15/2010 10:24 pm, Blogger Anna said…

    You had me at 'butter'... Swoon...

    This looks like an absolutely beautiful meal :)

  • At 7/16/2010 1:20 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Gourmet Chick - Agreed. I remember UK colleagues being stumped by the notion of BYO. It's a welcome step by finer dining establishments.

    Hi chocolatesuze - lol. I truly could've eaten it with a spoon!

    Hi Lex - I love the philosophy here, plus the plating is always beautiful. And lol, sure, anything is possible!

    Hi Joey - I think both restaurants play to different markets. I do love the lolly tray at Etch!

    Hi Margaret Tran - Aw thank you. And yes butter has the power to truly make the world a better place ;)

    Hi Howard - BYO is a fantastic idea and lol, thanks. You have Minh to thank for her constant nudging about bigger photos.

    Hi Hannah - Haha, I try. The butter was sensational and yes, I immediately saw the mont blanc and thought of you!

    Hi Mrs Pigflyin - I like your thinking! lol

    Hi Forager - You know what they say about Scorpios. lol. And yes, I'm glad the move to larger photos has sllowed everyone to appreciate the food in its deserved glory.

    Hi Laura - lol. It seems to be a common theme for this post. Glad you enjoyed!

  • At 7/16/2010 1:26 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Amy - I have always thought Becasse is such a great venue for a "special date night". I'm sure you deserve to be treated ;)

    Hi thang - You always eat with your eyes first, and the flavours here are always complementary.

    Hi mademoiselle delicieuse - Ha, butter hussy indeed! And that's quite a story!

    Hi Linda V - Thank you. When the food is plated so well, it's easy to take lovely photos :)

    Hi Veruca Salt - This was whipped to an incredible state of fluffiness. I think the smokiness worked really well too, giving it a bit more flavour body.

    Hi Gummi Baby - Ha, I spy a ganache fan. It just seemed a shame to overwhelm the nutty delicacy of the macaron but I'm sure you're not alone!

    Hi Shaz - The meal was lovely. It's always a treat to enjoy such beautifully presented food.

    Hi Vivienne - Mr Quenelle was quite the dish. lol.

    Hi Ladybird - It was a fabulous meal and yes, butter makes me a little weak at the knees too :)

  • At 7/16/2010 1:29 pm, Blogger Hannah said…

    Oh my gosh, really? Even if you're just saying that to make me feel happy... it worked :)

  • At 7/16/2010 4:25 pm, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Oh my!! Gorgeous pics! I think the cellar night is such a great idea. And oh, I think you'll have to share that great love of yours around!

  • At 7/17/2010 12:56 pm, Blogger Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    hehe you got more butter, well done :)

    I was taken to Becasse for my 40th last year and have since fallen in love with this place.

  • At 7/19/2010 12:38 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Butter is good when it's good butte... but whipped butter on the other hand! =D

    And I am in love with the twice baked souffle!

  • At 7/19/2010 12:52 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - I will always think of you when it comes to Mont Blanc. lol :)

    Hi Betty - lol. Of course, and thanks - photographing prettily plated food is always a pleasure!

    Hi Sara - It's a lovely restaurant isn't it? And I was almost tempted to get a third plate of butter but resisted (painfully).

    Hi Angie - The whipped butter was incredible, especially with the smoky flavour. I was really impressed with the fluffiness of the twice-baked souffle too.


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