Monday, April 27, 2009

Bécasse, Sydney CBD

It finally happened. I graduated. No more exams or assignments. (Or student concessions. Boo.) The decision making for my graduation dinner restaurant turned into an epic battle, it jumped between Rockpool, Tetsuyas, Balzac, Quay and a dozen other places. But in the end I was sure of where I wanted to go. And I am so glad I picked Bécasse in the end.

We are seated in the lower main area of the restaurant which I am pleased about after hearing a few negative remarks about the noisy upstairs area. The atmosphere in the restaurant is great, it has a quiet buzz to it. The lights are dimmed to a intimate but not ridiculous level. Not so great for food photos though! I will apologize ahead of time, I am self-conscious enough as it is taking food photos in a casual restaurant let alone a fancy one, so I kept the flash and AF illuminator on my camera off and my photos are even blurrier than usual.

We decided to skip the degustation menu and each choose an entree and main. Interestingly, they have standardised the pricing along the a la carte menu; all entrees are now 25 dollars, mains are $45 and desserts are $20. This seemed like great value for the first two courses but I think 20 is a bit steep for their desserts.

Complimentary pastry with goats cheese
Mmm...These pastries are brought out for us while we are still deciding what to order and they are just the thing to get my appetite going. The pastry tasted almost like lemon shortbread and complimented the light goats cheese very well.

Bread selection served with emulsified olive oil and volcanic ash salt
I am not usually a bread eater at restaurants but I do love the bread we get. The sourdough and garlic & herb are nice but the pumpkin bread is my favourite. Roasted pumpkin seeds on top and soft chunks of pumpkin spread throughout the dough. I was intrigued by the emulsified olive oil and the ash salt, but I think I would have still preferred a nice butter instead.

Sparkling rose and pumpkin bread innards
We also chose a sparkling wine to start off with from NZ, we were meant to be celebrating after all :) It's fantastic.

Complimentary cauliflower puree with cream and herbs
The cauliflower soup is superbly rich and creamy and so deep with flavour that all of us go silent as we slowly sip from our little teacups, trying to savour it for as long as possible but alas, it was still gone too quickly.

Salad of heirloom tomato and basil with golden tomato and olive oil sorbet
I chose the heirloom tomato salad for my entree; it was the first dish that caught my eye while looking through their menu and I am not disappointed. It arrives looking like a work of art, I am reluctant to disturb it, but I do. The olive oil sorbet is ridiculously good and the little green blobs are tiny balloons of basil sauce which give a surprising pop of flavour in your mouth. I am pleased that this dish is so tasty but light so I still have plenty of room in ma belly for my main and dessert.

Confit belly of Berkshire Kurobuta pork and king prawn rolled in crackling with fresh apple, verbena and vanilla

A and Mum try the belly pork. I'm not particularly wowwed by this dish, the crackling isn't bad and the vanilla is a nice touch but other than that it's nothing special.

Spanner crab mousse (I think)
I can't tell you too much about the spanner crab since I didn't get to try it but I am told it would have been nice except that it was far too salty.

Macleay Valley baby rabbit: roast leg, rack and saddle, lemon pith puree and date

My brother and Dad both get the rabbit. This is an awesome dish. I particularly love the little rabbit racks. It's almost like they were there just in case you weren't sure if they were really using baby rabbits haha. They were tasty little morsels though!

Fricasse of veal tongue with seared scallops, sweetbreads and asparagus
On to the mains...My choice was the veal tongue. I always seem to be attracted to the random bits of meat like tongue, sweetbread, kidney, oxtail etc. It's very satisfying, the tongue is packed full of flavour, the scallops are perfectly cooked and the crispy sweetbreads and sweet vegetables go well with the meat. I am a happy camper.

Showing off the veal in its clay and coffee muslin casing
I managed to get my Dad obsessed with this dish before we even got to the restaurant. Maybe it was because I mentioned the clay, or that it used to be the most expensive dish (by a couple dollars), but from the moment we sit down my Dad won't shut up about it. A is also determined to give it a go. Before serving our mains they bring out the milk fed veal, still wrapped in a layer of coffee soaked muslin and clay, and describe the process they go through to make the dish.

Milk fed veal baked in coffee and clay with confit potatoes, roasted mushrooms and caramelised endive
I had a small taste of the veal and it was so so so tender. Melt in your mouth tender. The coffee flavour barely comes through, it is a very subtle hint. While it's perfectly cooked I am still glad I didn't order it as it still seems like meat and three veg to me. But I think this is exactly why A and Dad love it.

Assiette of Victoria lamb
My brother's assiette of Victoria lamb is so-so. Everything is nice, but nothing stands out. The lamb is done three different ways, but they all seem to taste the same to me and none of the elements were particularly memorable.

Roasted fillet of jewfish with potato salardaise and a sauté of white asparagus, golden enoki and king brown mushrooms
Ohhhh. I almost regret not ordering this dish. Luckily two of us did order it so I got to try plenty of it. The jewfish was the absolute standout dish of the night. All the elements on the plate worked perfectly together AND individually. I avoid ordering fish at non-asian restaurants because they tend to overcook or under-season it. But this is just SO good. Moist and unbelievably tasty. The potato salardaise on the side is just as yummy but my favourite are the tiny crispy onion rings on top. Oh they are so good and so cute! Someone please mass produce these!

Complimentary watermelon sorbet with lemon curd (I think)

By the time they bring out the complimentary dessert I am pretty drowsy from the wine and the amazing food but they have me giggling with glee at the little flourish that comes with my sorbet. It's really sweet that they did that considering that my graduation was only mentioned once, in passing. The sorbet and lemon curd are a surprisingly great combination, and there is also a little ball of fresh watermelon at the bottom of the glass. I sit there and try to decide if it is too daggy to tip the glass into my mouth to catch the last little bits.

Banana crème brulée with salted peanut brittle and milk coffee sorbet

*Sigh* This part of expensive meals always gets me a bit down. Unfortunately a lot of the best desserts have to have nuts in them. And after hearing about the fantastic banana crème brulée with salted peanut brittle, I knew I was going to have another night watching someone else enjoy the best dessert from across the table. I did get a little taste of the coffee sorbet and banana cream before it all got smashed together and they just made me sadder about missing out on this :(

The souffle du jour was a strawberry souffle with strawberry sauce and mascarpone sorbet. This was the only real disappointment of the night, Mum didn't show us until she had already eaten half of it but the souffle was extremely soggy and wet, definitely undercooked. If we had known at the start we probably would have sent it back. The mascarpone sorbet was lovely though.

Strawberry souffle with mascarpone sorbet

Rhubarb and mandarin cheesecake

But all was forgotten once I tucked in to my own dessert! A always insists that mandarins are the best fruit to go in a cheesecake and I can't disagree with him yet. This was just oh so delicious. My nose was buried in my plate until every little bit of this deconstructed cheesecake was gone. The perfectly cooked rubarb, golden crumble and the airy, mousse-like cream was gone before I knew it!

We miss out on the petit fours since none of us can force ourselves to fit in a cup of coffee. I honestly can't believe that people can complain about leaving this restaurant hungry! I wasn't stuffed silly, I was satisfied and content, which is the way it should be. The service was impeccable. And after all that food, the meal was only a hundred dollars a head, including wines. And when you consider the fact that the degustation would have cost $120 without wine, that's not bad. Not bad at all.

204 Clarence Street,
Sydney 2000
(02) 9283 3440
Monday – Friday: lunch from 12:00pm – 2:30pm
Monday – Saturday: dinner from 6:00pm – 10:30pm
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  1. What a great way to celebrate your graduation! That cheesecake dessert looks yummy. Congrats by the way! Exciting times :)

  2. Congratulations! I was looking forward to seeing this post. I love how they brought out the veal and explained everything! :)

  3. Y - It was yummy. I contemplated licking the plate clean. Though I still think yours looked even better :) Thank you!

    Lorraine - Aw thanks! Yeah that was pretty cool, I like restaurants that are very focused on showing off the best ingredients.

  4. Congrats on graduating! :)

    The portions look really generous. Love the look of the veal in clay, mmmm.

  5. Congratulations on your graduation! Looks like you had a great celebration. I like the look of the pumpkin bread.

  6. Christie - Thank you! The portions were so much bigger than I expected, especially after reading all these reviews on eatibility complaining about the size of the dishes. Everyone at our table was stuffed silly!

    Arwen - :) Thank you! The pumpkin bread was great, definitely my favourite of the lot

  7. I;m surprised that there have been complaints about portion size! When I got the degu, yes, the plates were smallish, but only for entrees and everything balanced out so by the time we got to dessert we were stuffed!

    Congratulations! Exciting times ahead!

  8. Me too, I think some people just eat ridiculous portion sizes! Thanks so much!


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