Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quay, Circular Quay

There is a reason Quay has won Restaurant of the Year two years in a row in both The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and the Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. It is impeccable. The moment you step into the restaurant you are greeted by THAT view, and you think there's not much that can top it. But it only gets better from there.
As one of A's many birthday meals, he agreed to be spoilt rotten and taken for an extravagant lunch at Quay. I was surprised and so excited I could pee my pants, since Quay has been at the top of my wishlist for a while. And we don't get to splurge like this very often. Lunch was always going to be the better option for us, a slightly smaller dent on the wallet at $95 for three courses (or $75 for two). Also, when you have the Opera House on one side of you and the Harbour Bridge on the other, it seems like a waste to miss the daytime view. And of course, it makes all the photos look better!
Let me start by saying that the service was flawless, from start to finish. I booked online through their website, had an email confirmation by the end of the day and a follow up confirmation phone call the day before my booking. They were very thoughtful and helpful with working around my nut allergies, letting me know if there was even a trace of anything in any of the dishes. (Though I was willing to push it a little bit, I didn't want to miss out on a thing! A little almond meal doesn't bother me. Not that I recommend this to other allergy sufferers.) We started off with some lovely sunflower seed and polenta bread, and though I've gotten over taking photos of the bread, I had to put it up so I could reminisce about the absolutely lovely Riesling we had.
Amuse Bouche - Tuna tartare with smoked eel tapioca & horseradish cream
The amuse bouche was the perfect teaser for the meal to come. Firm cubes of beautifully fresh tuna, matched wonderfully with the smokiness of the tapioca pearls and a very light & fluffy horseradish cream. It had my mouth watering.
Crisp confit of pig belly, gentle braise of abalone and cuttlefish, handmade silken tofu, Japanese mushrooms, chive flowers ($10 supplement)
A's entree was a delightful mixture of textures and flavours and I had to resist leaping over the table to steal his dish for myself. The pork belly was just right, with that extremely satisfying crunch as you bit through the crackling. The tofu was the best tofu I think I've ever had in my entire life. The flavour of soy beans was much more intense and pure, and it melted smoothly over your tongue. That was sexy tofu.
Sea Pearls - Sea scallop, abalone, smoked eel & octopus, sashimi tuna
There was little doubt about which entree I would choose. The signature sea pearls sat in front of me, just as gorgeous as expected, so pretty that I kept taking photos even after I had enough, just because it was nearly too pretty to eat. Though you miss out on an extra pearl when you have this dish at lunch, there is nothing to complain about. I thoroughly expected the sweet, fresh sea scallop to be my favourite of the pearls, (and it definitely lived up to expectations) but I found that all of them were outstanding. The tuna pearl was very similar to the amuse bouche and the octopus pearl had a fabulous texture. If I had to choose, I think I was most enamoured with the abalone pearl, which was actually a pearl of dashi jelly that was so rich in flavour. But the scallop was a very close second. Let's just admire them again...
Confit of Riverina lamb loin, young vegetables, comté-infused fresh milk curd, roasted quinoa, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, hazelnuts
A's lamb came sans hazelnuts, so that I could share :) Though he was a little surprised that his main was quite small in size, he quickly got over it once he tasted it. The lamb was amazing, pink and so tender it almost melted in your mouth and made your eyes roll into the back of your head. The quinoa added a great bite to the dish, and I resisted stealing too much of his main since he was already wishing his portion was bigger.
Crisp pressed duck confit, kabu turnips, winter melon, hasuimo, garlic chive buds, sea scallops, duck juices
It probably would have worked out better if A had ordered my main instead, because he loved it so much that ended up eating half of it. I gave it away reluctantly, because it was SO GOOD. The duck confit was golden and crisp on the outside, but yielded easily under my knife and fork to reveal the juiciest, most flavoursome duck meat underneath. Paired with the lusciously rich duck juices at the bottom of the plate, it was so incredibly satisfying. The wintermelon was a curious vegetable that I haven't seen used very much outside of the usual Asian dishes, but was a bit of a revelation. I particularly enjoyed the sweet garlic chive buds but found that the delicate flavour of the sea scallops was a little lost amongst all the other intense flavours of this dish.
Strawberry guava and custard apple snow egg
On to dessert, the part I was most excited about, no surprises there. Unfortunately for me, the praline in the infamous eight texture chocolate cake had hazelnuts in it, but even though it wasn't an option for me, there was no way we were missing out on it. A got the chocolate cake while I chose the snow egg. This dessert completely stole my heart, it was so pretty and delicate. A light meringue sphere holding custard in the middle was encased by a paper-thin crisp toffee biscuit, dusted with icing sugar and sitting in a bed of granita and guava fool.
I'm not completely certain which parts were the strawberry guava or custard apple bits, but I'm guessing the smooth, silky custard in the centre of the meringue egg was custard apple flavoured and the granita was guava flavoured? Either way, it was so so so lovely. I was incredibly full from my rich main but there was no way I was missing out on a single morsel of it. The crisp shell was my favourite part, it cracked very easily which I hadn't expected, and was so nice with the meringue and custard. It just made me sigh and wish I could make desserts this beautiful.
Eight texture chocolate cake (Featuring Amedei ‘Chuao’ Chocolate)
And finally, the eight texture chocolate cake. Everyone has probably seen it before, on countless blogs, so I will save you the long description and let you enjoy the show.
Stunning isn't it? I had the small taste of some of the non-nutty textures and it the chocolate incredibly smooth and intense, I only really tasted the lighter mousse, the thin tempered chocolate top and the warm melted chocolate on top. The staff noted that A licked the plate clean, which I think was the highest compliment he could give. In fact, I think every single one of our dishes was licked clean, even the tiny amuse bouche glasses. There were definitely no complaints from A about the portion sizes after his rich dessert. We spent a good long time sitting back in our seats and drinking in the view, which was spectacular even on a grey, slightly drizzly day that only offered us a small peek of sunshine. And then we wondered home, and all I could say the entire way back was, "It was SO GOOD!". Possibly my favourite lunch ever. I wish I could go back!
Upper Level Overseas Passengers Terminal,
Circular Quay West,
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9251 5600
Quay on Urbanspoon
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  1. I love that shot of the pearls! You make the duck confit sound fantastic, if I ever make it to Quay I think that's what I'll have to order...

  2. All the dishes looked like an artwork.....truly beautiful. I'm so jealous

  3. Happy Birthday AARON!!!!!!!! Omg aaron is so lucky to have you spoil him like that. First the fish tank cake, now a lunch at Quay, very lucky indeed. Firstly, what a view! Oh the pork belly confit, i don't even eat pork, but just by looking at it, I can tell that's one awesome dish. Don't get me started on the pearls.. wtf! that looks too good to be true. Haha how funny of you to ignore your nut allergies for a couple of bite of the dishes, taking it for the team Steph! Can you please convince howard to take me there =p

  4. I can never get sick of people blogging about the 8 texture chocolate cake with those melting moments in slow motion... bliss.

    I think i need to go back for a 'proper' meal, the PR event I went to wasn't quite the same...

  5. Talk about a lavish birthday lunch! I wonder who was spoilt more out of this arrangement :)

    The pearls look fantastic and I love how the chocolate cake sinks in the middle. Was that due to the warmth of the sauce on the top?

  6. Omigosh I still can't believe I have yet to visit Quay. The duck confit looks amazing, and those sea pearls are exquisite. I agree with Billy - the 8 texture chocolate cake is poetry in motion. You can almost hear the chocolate sighing as the centre slowly gives way :)

  7. looks like you tried all the Classics which everyone seems to order at this fine dining establishment. i'm really keen to try that chocolate cake. definitely top of my list of places to recommend for a special occasion.

  8. Your photos are literally making me dribble a little bit, especially the 8 layer chocolate cake. I can only imagine how amazing it all tasted! happy birthday to A!

  9. OMG! Everything looks absolutely amazing. I feel like I was right there with you! *sigh* one day! Aww what a perfect birthday lunch, happy birthday A!

  10. I love Quay restaurant, and this post just reminds me exactly why! SUPER lovely pictures Steph! Happy Birthday to the boy! :)

  11. wow. that final cake looks stunningly rich. next resaurant on my list? QUAY

  12. I shouldn't browse your blog on an empty stomach. The pearls, lamb and choc cake are driving me crazy.

  13. Yuuummm Quay! I really need to go there for lunch sometime! Hee hee can't go wrong with sexy tofu and great photos! Happy bday A

  14. Sounds like A had a fantastically happy birthday indeed :) Your photos look absolutely stunning as well - and it sounds like you had the best time. Eeeek! Hurrah! Lost for words!

  15. This restaurant is definitely on my must eat list. With a great view, beautiful dishes and the allure of restaurant of the year 2 years in a row who can say no.

  16. Absolutely Stunning! The photos are amazing. Cute sea pearls and yummy looking chocolate cake.

  17. Happy Birthday - your photos are fabulous!

  18. Happy Birthday A! I went to Quay two years ago for my birthday too! It's such an amazing experience isn't it! Lunches like this are great coz you get natural light in your food shots! haha...

  19. Holy crap, what a lunch! I'm currently trying to think of where to take a friend for his birthday lunch tomorrow, and now all my ideas seem mediocre and decidedly lacking in sea pearls and 8 texture cakes.

  20. Happy Birthday to A! What a great way to celebrate!

  21. Mmmm... Definitely on my list too; the food looks AMAZING!

  22. I cannnot wait to visit this restaurant after your review! If you don't mind me asking, what was the bill total all up?

  23. D-rool... Great menu choices too - but I'm sure everything would be great...

  24. Wow, you are right. That view is amazing. And the food looks pretty spectacular, too!

  25. Minh - Thanks! I couldn't stop taking photos of them! Ooh yes, the duck was my favourite of the savouries :)

    Brenda - I know, it was almost too pretty to eat! I wish I could go back!

    linda - :D Haha he is a lucky birthday boy! HAHA I will risk my life for good food! Howard needs to take you there ASAP!

    billy@atablefortwo - It's quite a masterpiece isn't it? Yes you definitely need to go back!!!

    Simon @ the heart of food - Haha yes I did feel a little selfish about the amount of pleasure I was getting out of his birthday lunch :) Yes the warm melted chocolate collapses the tempered chocolate on top, I think the centre is hollow?

    Helen (Grab Your Fork) - OMG Helen you have to go!!! It's so amazing. :) I love that description, it really did almost sigh

    Simon Food Favourites - Yes well they are classics for a reason.

    Lisa - Haha same, I was whimpering a bit and wishing I could go back while editing the photos!

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - One day!! You would have loved it!!

    Trissa - It was so incredible! Will be hard to top it :) Thanks!

    Lex - ME TOO!

    Sophie - Go!! It's so worth it!

    Amy - Haha yeah reading food blogs can definitely build an appetite!

    FFichiban - You do need to go! LOL the tofu was very sexy! Thanks!

    shez - It really was the best lunch ever! Thanks!

    Mark @ Cafe Campana - Exactly! Everything stacks up to make it such a great experience. I'm a bit in love with it

    kathy - Thank you! It's not hard to take good photos when everything looks so pretty :)

    Gastronomy Gal - Haha thanks but it wasn't my birthday!

    Jen - I wish I had gone there for my birthday now! Haha exactly, natural light is the best :)

    Conor @ HoldtheBeef - Aww I'm sure your friend will enjoy whatever you take him too! Haha I don't think I'll be able to afford as lovely a lunch again anytime soon :(

    Y - It was a great way, though our anniversary at Sepia was equally fantastic!

    Phuoc'n Delicious - It was amazing!! I wish I was rich so I could go all the time haha

    Anonymous - Sure no worries, it was $95 pp but there was a $10 supplement for one of our entrees and we spent $104 on wine, so it ended up being $304 not including tips

    Tina - I think it would be hard to pick wrong on the menu, it was flawless!

    Julia @Mélanger - Isn't it lovely? So lucky to have a view like that :)

  26. Everything looks amazing! Haven't been to Quay in ages and ages. The last time I was there, the chocolate dessert only had five textures ;P


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