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Monday, November 14, 2011

Quay, Sydney

quay restaurant sydney

It was the perfect plan. Splurging on a dinner at Quay can always be difficult to justify in your budget, but if you have a fellow food lovin' friend who also happens to be a Scorpio, you can very easily take each other for a birthday treat! Everybody wins!

quay restaurant sydney
The whiskey trolley

We arrive early for our 6pm booking, allowing us plenty of time to appreciate the harbour views. The decor is deliberately understated - who wants to look at the walls when the Sydney Opera House is on your doorstep?

quay restaurant sydney
The million dollar view of the Sydney Opera House

quay restaurant sydney
Producer acknowledgements on the menu

Dinner offers two options: a four-course menu for $165 or an eight-course tasting menu for $220. Particularly impressive was the personalised acknowledgement of the specific farmers, growers and providores and their contributions to the dishes at Quay.

We choose the four-course menu, selecting different dishes from each set of five choices.

quay restaurant sydney
Amuse bouche: Tuna sashimi with dashi jelly and eggplant cream

The complimentary amuse bouche of the evening is an elegant arrangement of tuna sashimi in the tiniest of glasses. The tuna is sweet and firm, texturally playing off against the soft and salty dashi jelly. A puddle of eggplant cream at the base is wondrously smooth and silky. It's the ideal teaser for our palate in preparation for the meal ahead.

quay restaurant sydney
Sonoma bread and butter

The handmade ceramics are an immediate talking point. A quenelle of whipped butter perches in the thumbprint of what looks like a weather-beaten stone. We're soon distracted by the basket of breads -- all from Sonoma, we're told. We try the sourdough and the wholewheat versions, but the sunflower seed bread is the one we enjoy the most, and yes, waitstaff were happy to provide us with seconds. And maybe thirds.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 1: Sashimi of blue mackerel
with smoked eel flowers, sea scallops, pickled apple and nasturtiums

The sashimi of blue mackerel is so prettily plate you can't help but admire it thoughtfully for a minute or so. The blue mackerel is achingly fresh, and not half as fish as you'd expect, livened by thin slivers of pickled apple and the prettiest 'flowers' of smoked eel.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 1: Poached native marron with lemon syllabub, young almonds,
pomelo, green mango, elderflower, bergamot, chamomile

Poached native marron is delicately sweet, and though we find the segmented pomelo refreshing, it feels a little too fridge cold against our teeth.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 2: Gentle braise of black lipped abalone and rare breed pig belly
with shiitake, warrigal greens, ginger milk curd and earth & sea consomme

For my second course, I choose the black lipped abalone, whisper thin slices that are tender in the mouth. This is a dish of exploration, with silky ginger milk curd, fat shiitake mushrooms, warrigal greens and a tile of fatty pork belly buried at the bottom.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 2: Gently poached southern rock lobster, golden tapioca, shaved squid, lobster velvet

There's plenty to discover in the dish of gently poached southern rock lobster too. Slippery ribbons of shaved squid are coiled around glistening pearls of tapioca. The lobster is sweet and yielding.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 3: Risotto made from 7 year aged Acquerello rice
enriched with rice germ, truffle, white asparagus cream

Risotto doesn't instantly grab your attention but one mouthful of this dish, and I'm hooked. The crunch of rice puffs is what gets your attention first, and the masterful restraint of truffle, cream and cheese in the rice is what keeps you returning for more.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 3: Berkshire pig jowl with maltose crackling, prunes and cauliflower cream
perfumed with prune kernel oil

I'd eaten the Berkshire pig jowl before but I can't resist ordering it again. Our giggling waitress passes on instructions from the chef that we should take a moment to appreciate the aromas in this dish before eating it. I place my head over the plate and breathe in deeply.

There's much to love about this dish. There's the satisfying crack as you shatter the layer of maltose toffee "crackling" on top, there's the luxurious river of smooth cauliflower cream, but ultimately it's all about the pork, so unbelievably soft and fatty and unctuous that all you can do is sigh with every mouthful.

quay restaurant sydney
Salad leaves

And yes a bowl of salad leaves will definitely cancel out the fattiness of the pork you have just ingested.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 4: White nectarine snow egg

Dessert is what we've been looking forward to all night of course, and we dutifully order the dish of MasterChef legacy, the snow egg. Cracking open the "egg" releases a cloud of icing sugar as the maltose toffee shell breaks apart to reveal a core of white nectarine ice cream encased in a fluffy marshmallow meringue.

The white nectarine granita is cool and refreshing, scraped into fine crystals that melt on the tongue in an instant.

quay restaurant sydney
Course 4: Quay's eight texture chocolate cake

Quay's eight texture chocolate cake comes with the spectacle of a table-side ceremony. A spoonful of warm chocolate sauce is silently spooned from a gleaming copper pot and onto the middle of the cake. It's mesmerising to watch the sauce slowly but surely disappear into a rapidly emerging sink-hole in the middle as the cake appears to disappear into itself.

quay restaurant sydney
Quay's eight texture chocolate cake

It's a chocoholic's dream come true, with a thin disc of chocolate on top protecting a masterful construction of chocolate mousse, ganache, chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise, chocolate caramel cream and a chocolate cake base.

The dessert is gloriously rich, and probably best shared between two.

We scrape the plate clean.

quay restaurant sydney

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 (Apr 2011)
Peter Gilmore at the World Chef Showcase 2010
29 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/14/2011 01:44:00 am


  • At 11/14/2011 2:52 am, Blogger Olive You said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 11/14/2011 2:58 am, Blogger Olive You said…

    beautiful photos...

    i adore that dimples butter dish!

    creamy risotto,

    juicy porky pork

    and thickly rich choco cake...

    these are a few of my faaaayyyvourtie things!



  • At 11/14/2011 7:22 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Am feeling the porcine love! Gorgeous menu you had there Ms Scorpio!

  • At 11/14/2011 8:37 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    hehe. my sister's a scorpio too. :) just celebrated her birthday at some lovely cafe....

  • At 11/14/2011 9:21 am, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    I keep hearing great things about Quay and by the look of the food, it's no surprise. Wonderful to see the snow egg again.

  • At 11/14/2011 10:12 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    What a nice way to treat yourself and your friend; I love finding excuses like that to indulge, especially if it's for your birthday. I'm going to Quay mid next month and I can't wait!

  • At 11/14/2011 11:12 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thank you so much for sharing that experience with us. Your writing and descriptions are spot on as usual, and it's almost like I'm actually there sampling the goodness with you and your friend!

    Happy birthday, by the way. I'm sure I don't need to wish you a very jolly one filled with culinary goodness =]

  • At 11/14/2011 11:17 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    I love that the dishes keep changing at Quay. Even though I've been once before, I want to go back just to try all the new menu additions!

  • At 11/14/2011 12:50 pm, Anonymous Christine said…

    oh-my-goodness!!! i am sooo dying to go to Quay.. its been on my number one dying to go to restaurant for ages now!! ohh snow egg and eight texture chocolate cake how i crave thee... gorgeous pix btw!!

  • At 11/14/2011 1:02 pm, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    What an amazing meal/experience. I must admit that the price tag is whats kept me away but def think we will go for a special occasion soon. It looks way to good to pass up.
    I LOVE that ceramic butter dish. I want one for home haha

  • At 11/14/2011 1:22 pm, Anonymous dee@foodinhand said…

    I like this sneaky-justification-so-you-don't-feel-guilty business. Now to find a fellow gluttonous scorpio...

  • At 11/14/2011 1:56 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Everything is so crazily pretty - happy belated birthday!

  • At 11/14/2011 2:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One of the main reasons why I love your blog, Helen, is that you have a post about Quay following a post about No Name Italian. Truly the best of Sydney :)

    Between Holidays

  • At 11/14/2011 3:45 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    i just absolutely LOVE their pig jowl. i need to try the lobster and marron in the future!

  • At 11/14/2011 4:07 pm, Blogger jack said…

    Beautiful photos as always - everything looks so delicious and the presentation is amazing. I love the pics of the eight texture chocolate cake, the sauce disappearing into the middle just screams "eat me!". I was lucky enough to be taken to Quay 2 or 3yrs ago and remember how delicious that snow egg was - totally to die for :)

  • At 11/14/2011 5:17 pm, Anonymous OohLookBel said…

    I'll never get tired of the dishes at Quay. Always so pretty and always so amazing. A great spot for a birhtday, too!

  • At 11/14/2011 6:47 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Happy birthday, you fabulous, fabulous inspiring lady! I'm in awe, and not least because the abalone dish constitutes the only time in memory that I've looked at a photo and honestly not known what was before me! The pork dish looks incredible enough to even tempt me (and, seeing as you know my tastes, you know how much that means! :P ). I also wonder if that eight textures dessert would be a dessert to convince me that not all chocolate-focused desserts are insipidly bad?

  • At 11/14/2011 7:34 pm, Blogger The Food Mentalist said…

    Ahhh Quay, it's on my Sydney Bucket list and this post proves why. Just amazing :)

  • At 11/14/2011 8:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen, fantastic post the food looks exquisite! Stefanie

  • At 11/14/2011 9:29 pm, Anonymous Monica said…

    Everything looked so pretty...the amuse bouche looked so good, and the snow egg, and the chocolate tart..and.....

  • At 11/14/2011 10:03 pm, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    Ahhh Quay, how I love thee. Your post has given me cravings to revisit.

  • At 11/15/2011 12:32 am, Anonymous Flick Your Food said…

    An amazing restaurant! No wonders SMH awarded best chef of the year.

  • At 11/15/2011 7:38 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Ahhh, I'm waiting for a special occasion to use as an excuse to eat here as well!

  • At 11/15/2011 8:31 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    I have Quay locked in for my birthday next month. I am super excited :D

  • At 11/15/2011 8:45 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    holy moly everything looks freaking delicious! beautiful pics man happy early birthday!

  • At 11/15/2011 9:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay these photos are absolutely amazing. I wish I could take photos of this calibre. I am now very hungry. Quay looks worth the visit. I think Xmas time might be a good chance for Charles and I to check it out.

  • At 11/15/2011 12:19 pm, Anonymous Adriana@ Mouth to Mouth Food said…

    Seeing this makes me want to return to Quay so badly. That pork jowl is to die for and the eight texture chocolate cake is possibly the best chocolate cake i have ever tried, soooo good, thanks for reigniting my desire to return :)
    What a great way to celebrate your bday, Best birthday wishes.

  • At 11/15/2011 7:23 pm, Anonymous Ayden @ Himalayan Salt said…

    I've heard lot of good things about the eight-course tasting menu for $220. Ashamed to say that I'm yet to give it a go... That whole justification thing plays a part on all of us.

  • At 11/23/2011 4:55 pm, Anonymous Arthur said…

    You make me feel hungry! :) love your posts


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