#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | Spice Temple, Sydney » | Baroque Bistro, The Rocks, Sydney » | Au Lac Vegetarian Restaurant, Dickson, Canberra » | Central Hotel and District Dining, Surry Hills » | Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale » | Kammadhenu, Newtown » | Cho Dumpling King, Haymarket Chinatown » | Restaurant Arras, Walsh Bay, Sydney » | Balut at Diem Hen, Canley Heights » | Mad Cow, Sydney »

Monday, April 04, 2011

Quay Restaurant, Sydney

Peter Gilmore, Executive Chef, Quay

The whole point of restaurants, says Peter Gilmore, is to eat things you wouldn't bother making at home. He gestures at his mise en place, components of which take several hours, and says he would never make the dishes he makes at Quay at home. "Not unless I had a full kitchen team!" he says with a laugh.

It's my first time dining at Quay, and as I stride toward the entrance, I can't help but smile at the sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge - even as a born-and-bred Sydneysider, her regal presence never fails to impress.

Quay basks in a prime vantage point between two of Sydney's great icons, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The dining room is swish without being too stuffy, and large glass windows let in plenty of natural light.

Peter Gilmore plating up pink turnips and baby radishes

I'd been invited to attend a Masterclass with Peter Gilmore, a newly appointed partner with Electrolux. We make our way upstairs to the private dining area - popular with weddings - and after a glass of champagne with canapes with take our seats around a specially built demonstration area.

Peter is calm, gentle and laid-back in demeanour, happy to laugh at his own mistakes and taking care to thank his assisting chef with every task. He's not a small man (but who trusts a skinny chef anyway), and his fingers are light and nimble when he plates each dish.

Native fresh water marron

The first dish he demonstrates uses fresh water marron. Live marron are frozen and then poached quickly before being sealed in a plastic bag with clarified butter. The package is then steamed for three minutes until just cooked.

The marron is nestled between two delicate trails of baby radishes, pink turnips, garlic flowers and red garnet leaves. Dabs of jamon de bellota cream are made by infusing half a litre of cream with twenty slices of jamon de bellota - made from pigs fed on acorns - and then thickened slightly with agar agar.

The next dish Peter demonstrates is his butter poached quail breast, which is rapidly becoming another one of his signature dishes. Peter uses Coturnix quail, also known as Japanese quail, that is slightly bigger in size and gamier in flavour. The quail is poached in salted quail stock, effectively brining the meat and tenderising it in the processs, before being finished off in butter so the flesh is still pink.

Peter prefers to serve his quail at medium as cooking it through can often make it dry. Initially, he says, diners often sent the quail back to the kitchen presuming it was still raw, but he says he is slowly making inroads.

Butter poached Coturnix quail breast

The quail is presented in a beautifully designed plate, a sexy undulation that leads to an off-centre depression. At the base of the dish is a mousse made from morels and ethical foie gras, obtained from geese that are allowed to eat as much as they please, and harvested just after the geese gorge themselves in preparation for winter.

The quail breast is glazed with a thick quail jus, resting on a tumble of puffed quinoa and chopped walnuts fried in clarified butter. On top is a spoonful of pumpernickel pudding made from sprouted rye that is garnished with flakes of milk skin.

To make the milk skin, Peter's team boils milk in a square pan, then uses a sheet of greaseproof paper to lift off the layer of milk skin on top. The milk skin is dried under heat lamps and then broken into shards. Peter admits that the presence of milk skin on the menu always freaks people out and prompts several questions by curious diners.

We proceed to the dining table for our five-course degustation with matching wines. At the head of the table we can make out the Opera House, surrounding by the twinkling lights of Sydney Harbour.

Smoked eel and egg white pearl, sashimi hiramasa kingfish, pickled kohlrabi, octopus, nasturiums and white dashi jelly
paired with 2008 Petaluma 'Hanlin Hill' Riesling, Eden Valley

Our first course is the smoked eel and egg white pearl, an exquisitely plated dish that I'm reluctant to destroy. The golden orbs of white dashi jelly are the most fascinating wonders to behold, soft and wobbly with microscopic leaves suspended within.

Native fresh water marron, rose salt, organic pink turnips, jamon de bellota cream, oloroso caramel and society garlic flowers
paired with Natural Selection Theory Pear Cider, Coromandel Valley

We move onto the native fresh water marron: plump, sweet and deliciously buttery. The turnips and radishes add a contrasting crunch and the jamon de bellota cream is silky and rich.

Butter poached Coturnix quail breast, pumpernickel, morel and ethical foie gras pudding, walnuts, quinoa, truffle custard and milk skin
paired with 2008 Terravin Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand

Butter poached Coturnix quail breast is a little tricky to cut in the confines of the plate but its texture is soft and tender. I love the puffed quinoa the most, like the tiniest crunchiest rice bubbles you could imagine.

Peter Gilmore chatting with guests

Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes and cauliflower cream perfumed with prune kernel oil
paired with 2009 William Downie Petit Manseng, King Valley, Victoria

Peter returns to the dining room briefly to explain the next dish, the Berkshire pork jowl. We're encouraged to pause and smell the dish first, and we obediently oblige, relishing its wafting aromas of pig fat and caramel.

The pork jowl is taken from the pigs cheek and is decadently fatty. Because there is too much fat to render the skin to crackling, Peter uses a crackling made from maltose instead, melting it over the pork with a blowtorch in a similar fashion to his famous snow egg.

There's a delicious-sounding crack as our knives pierce the "crackling" and the unctuous pairs well with the sticky poached prune and cauliflower cream.

Preserved wild cherries, coconut cream, chuao chocolate crumble, cherry juice and chocolate sorbet
paired with Claude Courtois de Mistrelle, Sologne

We finish with the chocolate and wild cherry dessert, a dish I'd seen Peter demonstrate at the World Chef Showcase last year. It's a textural playground of rich chocolate sorbet, smooth coconut cream, and a yin-yang rubble of chocolate soil and shards of milk biscuit.

Peter's nature-based cooking is manipulated cleverly with technology yet still looks organic on the plate. A memorable evening with dishes that stand testament to its number 27 ranking in the World's Top 50 Restaurants.

Grab Your Fork attended the Peter Gilmore masterclass and dinner as a guest of Electrolux.

View Larger Map
Quay on Urbanspoon

Upper level, Overseas Passenger Terminal 5
Hickson Road, Circular Quay West, The Rocks, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9251 5600

Opening hours:
Lunch Tuesday to Friday 12pm-2.30pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6pm-10pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Quay, Sydney (Nov 2011)
Peter Gilmore at the World Chef Showcase 2010
27 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/04/2011 02:43:00 am


  • At 4/04/2011 4:43 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    The dishes are dazzling as usual and it's so true about eating out and trying unusual dishes too complicated for home.

  • At 4/04/2011 7:58 am, Anonymous Vintage Macaroon said…

    I so agree with Peter, I certainly don't want eat something I wouldn't cook at home. His dishes look delightful. Hopefully someone will take me one day....ahh.

  • At 4/04/2011 8:21 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Very nice! The marron is plated so beautifully. You must have been pleasantly sloshed after all that wine ;)

  • At 4/04/2011 8:59 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Everything looks wonderful! I'm a total Quay fan-girl, I think I would have been a little giddy if I'd been at this event. Very envious!

  • At 4/04/2011 9:53 am, Anonymous jess @ fushmush said…

    I ate at Quay the other night for my anniversary dinner. I finally got a chance to try the Snow Egg and it was just as good as all the hype made it out to be. Aferwards, I had a look at the recipe to see if I could make it at home and the recipe is ridiculous. There are so many components and it looks like it takes a lot of effort and time.

    So, I totally get where Peter Gilmore is coming from when he says his restaurant is for things you wouldn't make at home. It's just a shame that I can't go to Quay and order dessert only. I would!

  • At 4/04/2011 10:15 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Helen, this is totally where we should go on Thursday. Maltose crackling, pumpernickel pudding, and chuao chocolate? Perfect Thursday night after a flight! ;)

  • At 4/04/2011 10:19 am, Anonymous OohLookBel said…

    I still pine for the meal I had it Quay, and it ranks as the best ever, as well as the prettiest. Definitely 'don't try this at home' territory, but it must have been fascinating to see Peter Gilmore at work.

  • At 4/04/2011 11:00 am, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    that smoked eel and egg white pearl looks freakin awesome!!!

  • At 4/04/2011 11:10 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    Man... what a fabulous looking meal and I'm so envious of your masterclass! I must make my way to Quay soon (that's if I can get a booking!)

  • At 4/04/2011 11:37 am, Anonymous Food Fashion Victim * said…

    Great photography !!!
    Looks like a dinner reservation at Quay is next on the cards again haha

  • At 4/04/2011 11:55 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    heh i like butter too

  • At 4/04/2011 12:23 pm, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    All the food looks so lovely. I definitely would never cook the above dishes at home, wouldn't know where to start :)

  • At 4/04/2011 12:37 pm, Blogger Gastronomy Gal said…

    oh my!! I just have to go. I was in Sydney on the weekend and did pass Quay- saw the diners having a lovely time. P.s love the comment about not trusting skinny chefs- very true!!

  • At 4/04/2011 1:13 pm, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    He truly is the master. Its just art on a plate and a shame to eat it. Actually not a shame to eat it if there's photo evidence :) Im sure they taste even better than they look which is saying a lot! I cant wait to go there :)

  • At 4/04/2011 1:36 pm, Anonymous sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    Stunningly plated food. It is nice to know I share the same philosophy as Peter, when I eat out I do like to have food I would not eat at home, I mean, otherwise why go out?

  • At 4/04/2011 3:53 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    Quay is amazing! I love the intricate presentation of the dishes and Peter Gilmore's creativity with recreating the pork crackling with maltose - genius!

  • At 4/04/2011 6:28 pm, Blogger Gummi Baby said…

    I so love the way you describe the food as well as show it, I feel like I'm there savouring every morsel with you. Haven't had a chance to try Quay yet but I do hope to get there one day. I think I would miss the pork crackling though! :D

  • At 4/04/2011 6:39 pm, Anonymous JasmyneTea said…

    That's exactly the point I tried to make with Stephen; he wanted to make the guava snow egg as featured on Masterchef, but that would totally ruin the magic of going out and having it made for you!

    Still need to try Quay out :) I'll have to save my pennies!

  • At 4/04/2011 7:36 pm, Anonymous Iris said…

    The lady Peter Gilmore was chatting to bears quite a resemblance to Matt Preston!

  • At 4/04/2011 9:20 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    i hope to revisit Quay one day. i really enjoyed the food last time I went about 3 years ago :-)

  • At 4/05/2011 12:31 am, Anonymous penny aka jeroxie said…

    Amazing meal. And hope to make it to Quay one day.

  • At 4/05/2011 3:53 pm, Blogger Reemski said…

    Ah, it was such a lovely evening wasn't it. Hope you got home ok.

  • At 4/06/2011 11:22 am, Blogger susan said…

    I always try and order dishes that I wouldn't cook at home too, which is why I love going to Japanese restaurants. What a great and amazing event to go to!

  • At 4/06/2011 10:09 pm, Anonymous Iron Chef Shellie said…

    AMAZING looking dishes!

  • At 4/08/2011 1:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Everything looks lovely! Love all the food and your photos!

  • At 4/08/2011 1:35 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    And people wonder why certain dining experiences cost so much! Because it really all is an experience, comprising of menu research and presentation to the environment, food and service at home. Agree that I would never attempt anything close to this at home!

  • At 4/08/2011 8:50 am, Anonymous The Richest Girl in Bondi said…

    The only time I've eaten at Quay was with Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris after we wrapped on MasterChef last year and it was a night I will never forget. The food was amazing... the wine that Matt ordered was ridiculous (in a good way), the conversation was hilarious (and a little bit rowdy) and Peter was an absolute gentleman. Of course we had to try the snow egg, just for old time's sake, and it didn't disappoint. Even if it's a once in a lifetime thing, you definitely have to treat yourself to at least one night at Quay.


Post a Comment

<< Home

      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts