Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sepia, Sydney CBD

Haha sorry, I can't resist the corny...
Sepia, Sepia, Sepia. I hadn't been able to get this restaurant out of my mind after reading Foraging Otaku's review months ago, followed by eatshowandtell's review. That was enough to send this restaurant to the very top of my wishlist. I needed a reason to go for a fancy dinner, and what better occasion to celebrate than A & I's 8th anniversary? Today is the actual day of our anniversary, but we've spread it out over an 'anniversary period', in order to maximise the fun of it :) So on Friday night, we made our way to the city for a treat.

The restaurant is beautifully slick and has a low, comfortable buzz to it. I immediately love the welcoming atmosphere and for the next few hours we are completely enveloped in the experience. Since it's only the two of us, we decide to go with the degustation menu and A also gets the matching wines to go with his meal. At $130 per person plus $60 for the wines, it's incredible when you consider the calibre of the chefs at Sepia, Martin Benn (former executive chef at Tetsuya's) and Daniel Puskas (former head chef at Oscillate Wildly). Can you tell how much I was looking forward to this?
Amuse Bouche

The amuse bouche is brought to us quickly after ordering and (if I remember correctly) it is a chicken sausage with radish, enoki mushrooms and a jelly which I've forgotten. It's a tasty morsel, but A eyes it warily and goes "The dishes are going to get bigger, right?" Haha the silly boy, I reassured him that they would, he's had degustations before at so he should have known better!
BBQ Silver Lake Eel, Sushi Rice, Confit Leek and Licorice Powder

Next up is the barbequed eel. I was actually given olive powder instead of licorice powder since it had almond meal in it (I am usually okay with almond meal but I was nice to see they were being careful). A said they tasted fairly similar, the entire dish is beautifully presented and has an amazing smoky flavour. The scent and texture of the powder is a lovely addition. The rice wasn't as sticky as what I am used to in Japanese rice, but didn't really make much of a difference.
Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare, Avocado Cream, Soy and Wasabi Jelly
There was much oohing and aahing when this dish was placed in front of me. I have developed a new love of plates and cutlery since knowing Lisa, and this was a wonderful half egg-shaped glass dish with a cute wooden spoon. I wanted to steal it, spoon and all. We were instructed to either mix the dish up or try to scoop from the bottom-up, to ensure we got a bit of everything in each mouthful. The tuna was just perfect and the avocado cream and wasabi soy jelly were perfectly balanced. This was such a fun dish and it also had the most wonderful wine pairing, a 2007 Dr. Loosen Kabinett Riesling. This was probably my favourite wine out of all the 7 glasses that A was given during the night, though they were all fabulous matches for each course and definitely worth the extra $60. Oh and the sommelier is delightful, taking you on a journey through different countries with the descriptions of each wine. I was glad I got to have a taste of each with my meal, though I would be a bit woozy if I had ordered that much wine for myself.
Queensland Spanner Crab and Buckwheat Risotto, Mustard Butter, Shellfish Essence
Surprisingly, this was possibly one of my favourites of all the seafood dishes. Unexpected because I am not usually too impressed with any risottos or foams. But this was an explosion of flavour, it was so incredibly rich and heady from the crab and tangy mustard butter and I was scraping up every last drop of it. The buckwheat risotto was a great textural change from the usual risotto rice, it had a real bite to it.
Butter Poached Blue Eye, Baby Fennel, Pickled Cuttlefish, Smoked Ink, Bacon Floss
The butter poached fish was sweetly delicate, a stark contrast to the strong shellfish flavour of the previous course. The flesh was moist and firm and were matched well with the squid ink sauce and bacon floss. I particularly loved the texture of the picked cuttlefish in this dish, though I made an absolute mess of my plate from smearing the squid ink around clumsily.
Roast Loin of Gippsland Lamb, Crisp Lamb Belly, Braised Daikon, Jerusalem Artichoke, Mushroom Infusion
Ohhhh yes...From this point onwards we were in meat heaven. This was a stunning dish, our plates of lamb were brought out with a glass filled with the mushroom infusion. Fresh mushrooms, some of my favourite varieties were soaking up some of the delicious liquid, and the other half was poured over the lamb. Our lamb was perfectly cooked, pink and tender, and the firm daikon radish was just the right partner for the strong lamb flavour. The added crunch of the crisp lamb belly was similar to crackling and the thin petals of jerusalem artichoke hidden under the meat was a pleasant surprise. The mushroom infusion was probably the highlight of this dish, and we were given spoons to drink up the liquid.
Mushroom Infusion
A grabbed the mushroom glass with a cheeky glint in his eye and started scooping out all the fresh mushrooms onto his plate, amused by the horrified anger on my face as I first thought he was taking them all for himself. But he was just taking them all out to share them between us, he would have been strangled across the dinner table if that wasn't the case!
Seared Loin of Venison with Sansho Pepper, Caramelised Witlof Hearts, Meyer Lemon Puree, Caper and Celery Leaf Jus
I have to admit I nearly drooled on my plate when the aroma of this dish hit my nose. The sweet Meyer lemon puree is the first thing that you smell, and it is mouthwatering. This venison was unbelievably tender, so much so that you could almost pry it apart with just your fork. The lemon puree, caramelised witlof and jus were so so right for this dish. This was definitely something I realised about the dishes here, you had to get a taste of every element of the dish in your mouth at once to appreciate the full impact of what they were putting on the plate. It was all so well balanced. The richness of the last two meat dishes was pushing me to my limit, and even A was looking rather full and swallowing his earlier fears from the small servings.
Pre Dessert
My favourite part of the night, dessert time! My memory is a little hazy but I think that this was a yoghurt sorbet with lychee, on top of stewed rhubarb and crumble. It was an interesting combination of flavours, I'm a crumble girl so I was happily spooning all of this up. The sorbet had a creamy tang from the yoghurt that made it an ideal palette cleanser.
Toasted Spiced Marshmallow, Coconut Sorbet, Crisp Chocolate, Sour Cherry and Blueberries
This is what I had been looking forward to the most, and I was not disappointed. Although I had looked wistfully at stunning elements of chocolate dessert covered in cocoa bubbles, alas it was only available on the a la carte menu. I made a mental note to myself to come back here with a bigger table to try everything on the a la carte menu. Our dessert is whimsical and inviting, a strip of toasted spiced marshmallow that almost acts as a winding road which leads you down to the other elements of the dish. There is so much balance to this dish, in flavour, texture and visual appeal. It just makes me smile.
Toby’s Estate Coffee, Petits Fours
The evening is winding down and we are one of the few people left in the restaurant, since we started fairly late. My latte comes out in a beautiful glass and is seriously good coffee. We miss out on the macarons because I'm the stupid allergy kid, but the passionfruit ganache filled, and violet chocolates are unique, memorable and a sweet end to a meal that has made us a happy couple indeed. This was the perfect setting for our anniversary dinner, and I hope Sydney keeps delivering restaurants like this.
Happy 8 years A, I love you!
201 Sussex St
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 1990

Mon- Fri: 12pm-2pm, 6pm-10pm
Saturday: Degustation dinner only
Sepia on Urbanspoon
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  1. Thinking of visiting Sepia... soon! All the dishes are so well presented. Aw!! So sweet, your last sentence!

  2. oh my that toasted marshamallow dessert looks so pretty! congrats on the 8 years guys!

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it just as much as we did. Like yourself, despite everything being great, the dessert would have to be the best.

  4. The mushroom dish looks interesting!
    Sepia is on my list of "to go to" places, and its also on my "red lable" in my Good food guide!!

    Congrats on the 8 years chic =D

  5. Wow! 8 years is definitely reason to celebrate! It all looks so incredible. I will definitely have to make my boy take me there next time he's in Sydney for our belated 3 years haha.

  6. Aww... Happy Anniversary! :) Looks like the perfect way to celebrate. Everything looks absolutely stunning! I love how you described the marshmallow dessert *drools*. I don't think I can wait til my 8th anniversary to try it though ;)

  7. Congratulations beautiful girl on such a fantastic milestone. What are you going to do for 10years!!! You'll have to get married!

  8. Awwww, lots of love to you both! I remember how excited you were abt going to Sepia and I'm so happy that it lived up to all your expectations :) Food does look damn good!

  9. Congratulations! What a fantastic way to celebrate, it seems that almost every dish is a standout dish! Very curious about the toasted spiced marshmallow though.

  10. Happy Anniversary Steph and A! :) Ooh we're booked into Sepia so thankyou for the review and superb low down. I can't wait to try some of Lemonpi's desserts :D

  11. oh my goodness, the meal looks so so so incredible ! you and A must have a wonderful time celebrating 8th year anniversary !

    I would love to dine there before I go back to Thailand in Jan next year... should find some company now :)

  12. AHa, the no-nuts table! Wish I'd known you were visiting!

  13. congrats on 8 years :) looks as lovely as any place to have an anniversary!

  14. I heard about this place and who headed it up only a little while before they were awarded with an SMH hat. I was interested then, but after seeing your photos and reading your descriptions it's definitely moved up my priority dining list!

  15. Steph congrats on the anniversary and what a way to spend it! all the dishes you presented look stunning!. Loving the sound of th emushroom infusion god i love mushrooms!

    The spanner crab sounds and looks interesting. Especially at the thought of crab.. tonight im really craving for shellfish like lobster, crab... i feel like i wanan go out ot a chinese restaurant and order fresh seafood from the tanks!

    Just staring at the foam makes me want to pick it up with my hands (as tho its bubbles of fun) and blow it hehe!

    Hope to see you soon! feels like ages!

  16. Congrats on your anniversary :) And that has got to be one of the coolest desserts I've seen!

  17. Ellie - The presentation was fab, and the smells coming of the plate are mouthwatering! :) thanks

    chocolatesuze - Doesn't it?? I wanted another one, it was so good! Thank you! :D

    Linda - the post on your blog was definitely a determining factor, I agree the desserts were a standout! Though I may be biased, desserts tend to be what decides if I like a meal or not hehe

    VoN - omg the mushrooms were amazing. I just wanted to drink it straight out of the glass. Thanks vonnie!

    Lisa - Aw thank you :) Ooh yes you should definitely take him!

    Betty - Thanks! Hahah no I'm sure you can find a closer reason to go ;)

    Reemski - :D *hugs* Thanks so much! Hahaha mayyybe I will :P

    Karen - Aww right back at you! It definitely didn't disappoint :)

    Conor - The marshmallow was great, it went so well with all the other elements of the dessert

    Lorraine - Thank you!! OH yay I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. She's amazing hey??

    Bean Sprout's Cafe - It was definitely a great way to celebrate!

    Y - Hehe yup that was me! Aww well I meant to mention I was coming but I never ended up doing it!

    lex - :D thanks! It's good to get another one ticked off my wishlist, but there's still so many to go!

    mademoiselle délicieuse - oh cool :) it's great that they got a hat, they definitely deserve it!

    Leona - Yay thank you so much! I love mushrooms too, I was in heaven when I was having that dish! HAHAHA you're too funny, I can imagine doing that with the foam, I always used to do that when I had bubble baths as a kid! I know, we have to meet up soon!

    Simon Food Favourites - Hehe it definitely was for me, it's worth it!

    Jacq - Thank you! Isn't it gorgeous??

  18. oh my god, pure envy that you made it to Sepia!
    I've been trying to visit here but my schedule and their booking availability didn't allow me :(

    food looks absolutely fantastic!


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