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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fix St James, Sydney

Bone marrow 'Ode to Fergus' at Fix St James Sydney

It was the promise of bone marrow that brought us to Fix St James. Monday was my birthday and I don't tend to make a fuss with celebrations, content with the idea of a quiet and laidback dinner for two. We'd had pre-dinner drinks and I'd led the way to the restaurant but I only knew something was up when Suze stood back at the entrance and said "you should go straight ahead".

All my favourite people at Fix St James Sydney
Oh hai!

SURPRISE! All my favourite food blogging friends had been secretly assembled by Suze. Ack! I'd had no inkling of this deviousness. This is the second time I've had a surprise party thrown for me. That crazy wave of shock and confusion soon swells into a Hallmark-style heartwarming glow, even as your nearest and dearest revel in your blinking disorientation.

New front bar area at Fix St James, Sydney
Fix St James new front bar area

It's been four years since my last visit to Fix St James, and I've been keen to check out its recent renovation by owner and sommlier, Stuart Knox. The front part of the dining room has now been converted into a wine bar area, offering all day snacks and nibbles, with flexible seating to suit couples, groups and solo diners. I always forget how close it is too, nestled one skinny block east of Westfield Sydney on Elizabeth Street.

Squeezing lemon onto fried school prawns at Fix St James, Sydney
School prawns with chilli salt and aoili $16

Brooke is our friendly server tonight, and it's not until after we place our orders -- seven orders of bone marrow please! -- that word gets back from the kitchen that they don't have enough bone marrow. Noooo...... They only have five serves available but offer three complimentary orders of school prawns in consolation. It's an unnecessarily generous gesture and one that's appreciated.

Eating at Fix St James, Sydney
Can't talk. Eating. 

The school prawns are thrown straight into the deep fryer before being tossed through with chilli salt. We devour them shell and all, crunching everything down from their heads to their tails. A squeeze of lemon juice adds a refreshing zing; a dip in the accompanying garlic aioli makes them even better.

Pork, duck and pistachio terrine at Fix St James, Sydney
Pork, duck and pistachio terrine with spiced apple $20

There are a smattering of non-bone marrow entrees around the table, including a cast iron pot of sizzling tiger prawns with garlic and a wedge of pork, duck and pistachio terrine. The pork, duck and pistachio terrine is particularly tasty, hefty in size and meatiness without the pastiness you sometimes get from a stodgy terrine. This one is firm and compact, with chunks of meat and a welcome crunch from embedded pistachios. The only drawback is the toast which is a little on the dry side.

Sizzling tiger prawns at Fix St James, Sydney
Sizzling tiger prawns with garlic and white wine $25

Bone marrow 'Ode to Fergus' at Fix St James Sydney
'Ode to Fergus' - bone marrow, parsley and duck fat croutons $15

And then the bone marrow arrives. A whole army of roasted bones are laid down the middle of the table, each trough impaled with a spoon. The 'Ode to Fergus' is Knox's tribute to Chef Fergus Henderson's signature dish.

Bone marrow 'Ode to Fergus' at Fix St James, Sydney
Bone marrow goodness

The bone marrow has been roasted to a perfect quivering plumpness, and we scoop out the fatty lushness with determined glee. In Fergus Henderson's original dish, slices of toast are served on the side, but Knox amps this up considerably with duck fat croutons.

The croutons look like Jenga-stye potato chips but they have the texture of super crunchy garlic bread, except in this case replace the drenching of butter with the decadence of duck fat. Oh yeah, if you're going to go out with a bang this could well be the way to go.

Coorong skirt steak tagliata at Fix St James, Sydney
Coorong skirt steak tagliata $34

Coorong skirt steak tagliata is a tumble of steak slices hidden beneath a pile of rocket and parmesan shavings. It's interesting to note, too, that four years ago this was served with Cape Grim scotch fillet for $35. Now it's Coorong skirt steak and priced a dollar cheaper - an astute move that makes good use of secondary cuts to keep price points down.

Blue swimmer crab risotto at Fix St James, Sydney
Blue swimmer crab risotto $32

Other mains include blue swimmer crab risotto, plump grains of aromatic rice served with sweet clumps of blue swimmer crab, and a hearty confit duck leg served with alcohol-soaked prunes.

Confit duck leg at Fix St James, Sydney
Confit duck leg with boozy prunes and new season carrots $32

Greenstone steak sirloin with Cafe de Paris butter at Fix St James, Sydney
Greenstone steak sirloin with Cafe de Paris butter $42

I snaffle a hunk of the Greenstone steak sirloin from Suze, cooked medium rare as requested, and crowned with a molten slab of mustard and herb Cafe de Paris butter.

Flounder at Fix St James, Sydney
Market fish of the day: flounder

The fish of the day is also impressive, a whole flounder cooked with lemon juice, garlic and butter to a fork-flaking succulency.

Beef tartare at Fix St James, Sydney
Beef tartare with egg yolk and chips $32

I go with the beef tartare, seasoned just how I like it with a generous amount of capers. It's not overly salty or sweet but balanced in piquancy, and the meat is meltingly soft and tender. It's one of the best beef tartares I've had the pleasure of eating in quite some time.

Duck fat roasted potatoes at Fix St James, Sydney
Duck fat roasted potatoes $9

We order the duck fat roasted potatoes too but I prefer the chips that come with my beef tartare, fluffier and crunchier than the duck fat potatoes that are a little on the heavy and stodgy side.

Creme caramel dessert at Fix St James, Sydney
Creme caramel $12

Desserts are simple but elegant. The creme caramel is as silky as you could hope for, the smooth custard resting on a slick of golden caramel sauce.

Dark chocolate mousse dessert at Fix St James, Sydney
Dark chocolate mousse with muscat blood orange $14

The dark chocolate mousse packs a fair amount of intensity too, yet maintains a light texture that confuses the tastebuds.

Homemade vanilla chiffon cake with cream and fruit by Chocolatesuze
Birthday cake! Vanilla chiffon cake with cream and fresh fruit

And then there was cake! Suze had asked what my favourite cake was and dutifully granted my wish. I love a classic sponge cake with cream and fresh fruit - Suze upped this by baking a chiffon that was ridiculously fluffy. After blowing out the candles, the cake was whisked away for slicing before I got a chance to take a photo of the entire ensemble but rest assured it was a double storey vision of heaven. I was in such raptures of bliss that I didn't just eat my slice; I had two.

Thanks Suze for being such an wonderful friend, for organising a surprise dinner and making my favourite cake in the whole wiiiiiiiiiiide world. Thanks to these awesome folk for keeping a secret and thank you everyone for my birthday wishes so far! You're all too kind!

Fix St James, Sydney

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Fix St. James on Urbanspoon

Fix St James
111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9232 2767

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 12pm - 3pm

Monday to Thursday 5.30pm - 9pm
Friday 5.30pm - 10pm
Saturday 6pm - 9pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Fix St James, Sydney (Sep 09)
23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/21/2013 01:24:00 am


  • At 11/21/2013 4:56 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Happy birthday (again!) dear dear Helen!

    In honour of your awesomeness, I will admit that it is crazytown here because I'd much prefer the savouries to the sweets in this meal.


  • At 11/21/2013 7:26 am, Anonymous gareth said…


    Surprise birthday gatherings are the best. So many tasty treats at Fix. The marrow for a start. The school prawns look good. Duck confit and p*ssed prunes followed by creme caramel sound like like the winner for me.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • At 11/21/2013 9:42 am, Blogger Tina said…

    I was just looking at this menu the other day, so thanks for all the pics! Hope you had a delicious birthday Helen :)

  • At 11/21/2013 10:04 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    aww now that looks like a great birthday feed with awesome people. Hope you enjoyed the celebrations helen!

  • At 11/21/2013 10:47 am, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Happy birthday Helen! You definitely celebrated in a worthy manner - all that duck fat and bone marrow and fluffy cake!

  • At 11/21/2013 11:01 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    teehee love you long time!!! hope you had an amazing birthday, you're the bestest friend a girl could have! here's to more bone marrow, wine and sneaky surprises!

  • At 11/21/2013 11:02 am, Blogger Mel said…

    Happy happy birthday! Suze must have shed a tear when you were told they didn't have seven portions of bone barrow! Great that you were given a dish to make up for it though - that's very generous of them.

    I've heard so much about this place on social media but you know, I have NO idea where it is located...

  • At 11/21/2013 11:03 am, Anonymous Kim Nguyen said…

    bone marrow freaks me out a little bit. i still have yet to try it!

  • At 11/21/2013 1:14 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Awesome surprise birthday dinner! Good to hear you had at least 5 orders of bone marrow to share. Both the terrine and Suze's cake look great!

  • At 11/21/2013 1:20 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Awesome Bday dinner! This place is only like 3 mins walk away from my work lol been wanting to go herr for the last 3 yrs. MARROW!!!!

  • At 11/21/2013 5:54 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    Happy birthday Helen! I'm glad you enjoyed your meal and good on you for having 2 slices of cake! I reckon we should have saved some of the duck fat croutons for the tartare, I reckon that would've been super tasty.

  • At 11/21/2013 6:35 pm, Anonymous Joanne T Ferguson said…

    G'day! Happy Birthday Helen, true!
    Enjoyed your post today and never had bone marrow, but it on my list to do!
    Cheers! Joanne

  • At 11/22/2013 2:14 am, Blogger YaYa said…

    Happy Birthday Helen! Looks like you had a fabulous time, glad the restaurant isn't too far away from my usual haunts, looks like it's time for a visit!

  • At 11/22/2013 7:37 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    Happy birthday once again! How can anything top a bunch of good friends having bone marrow together! I suspect those school prawns would have been a lot more awesome than the ones in your previous post. those came without the best part - the heads!

  • At 11/22/2013 8:15 am, Anonymous Charlene said…

    Happy birthday!! :) the food at this place looks amazing and it looks like you had an amazing time too!

    would love to try those duck fat potatoes....

  • At 11/22/2013 8:18 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    My heart still skips a beat when I think of those duck fat croutons! Though that might be a blocked artery talking. It was so much fun celebrating with you Helen!

  • At 11/22/2013 9:44 am, Anonymous Daisy@Nevertoosweet said…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Helen :) Suze is awesome for organising a surprise birthday dinner and I think she found the best place! Everything looks delicious!

    Keep being fabulous! hehe

  • At 11/22/2013 11:38 am, Blogger Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    happy -belated- birthday helen! :)

    That's so nice of them to have given complimentary school prawns, sure that made up for the missing 2 serves of bone marrow - which sounds simply devine!!!

    - Cassie

  • At 11/22/2013 12:17 pm, Anonymous squishies said…

    Happy birthday again Helen! ^_^ How sweet of Suze to organise a surprise birthday dinner... and what a dinner! I think I need to go back to Fix St James soon...

  • At 11/24/2013 11:23 am, Anonymous Priscilla @ foodpornnation.com said…

    happy surprise birthday!!!

    Looks like you had quite the feast. Hmmmm duck fat....

  • At 11/25/2013 10:35 am, Anonymous missklicious said…

    happy birthday Helen! what a lovely way to celebrate. That bone marrow looks amazing!

  • At 11/26/2013 12:54 pm, Anonymous Amanda@ChewTown said…

    Wishing you the happiest of belated birthdays! Sounds like a wonderful celebration - and always nicer when its unexpected. All the food looks so great... but that cake!! Amazing

  • At 11/29/2013 9:02 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Happy birthday!!

    What a lovely surprise! You're so lucky :)


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