29 February 2012

Taste of Sydney 2012 progressive degustation: 5 restaurants in 5 hours, Sydney (28 Feb 2012)

Preview of tastes to come

Thanks to Ashley Gatte from Stellar Concepts Australia for inviting me along to a progressive dining tour of some of the new restaurants that have come on board to Taste of Sydney 2012. The very intimate group of six bloggers were first welcomed by Meghan O'Hanlon (Taste Festivals Event Director) at Saké Restaurant & Bar and I enjoyed the refreshing and well-balanced Tasty Budo cocktail ($17) of fresh grapes, Kozaemon 3yo junmai sake & citrus. I’m not usually a fan of sake but perhaps I just haven’t tried good sake before. The tasting of Kozaemon Organic Junmai Ginjo Miyamanishiki sake was quite palatable for me so I think I have much to learn about appreciating fine quality sake. Out of the three mini dish samples Saké provided I really enjoyed the flavours of the Kingfish Ceviche the most. It’ll be interesting to see how they plate their final dishes and how much they’ll provide on the plate at the festival. Actually having all three on a plate would work for me like a canapé taster.

The group was then split into two groups to venture off to three different restaurants. First stop for Jennifer Lam (Jenius), Vicki Lu (Once Upon A Foodie) and myself was next door to The Cut Bar & Grill. Arriving just before 6 pm was a good time to appreciate the intimate atmosphere and décor of the restaurant. Our Tasting Plate with Cornichons and Mustard Fruits had melt-in-your-mouth cuts of cured meat shaved by the very expensive Berkel slicer that I’ve also seen at Victor Churchill. A great dish for sharing although I’m suspecting the festival dish won’t be as generous perhaps. I reckon adding a few pieces of cheese and some olives would go well with a glass of wine. Next stop was Spiedo in Westfield Sydney. Their Strozzapreti, zucchini, prawns and saffron dish had decent sized prawns in a slightly gravy-like sauce. Nice flavours although quite filling so I can see why it’s nicknamed the Priest Choker. Finding our way out of Westfield Sydney at around 8 pm wasn’t the easiest task. Blocked areas and no clear after hours exit directions soon turned into a 10 minute escape hunt. Apparently going out through the alarmed exit doors was the go in the end.

Our trusty driver then got us to A Tavola which I’ve previously dined at before with unfortunate circumstances but have it on my list to revisit one day. This time around the heatwave of the day didn’t do the cosy dining room any favours which retained some of the heat but I noticed the service was able to remain positive and professional for all. Their dessert of Cremino al Cioccolato was a showstopper for Vicki with moans of ‘OMG’ uttered at least fives times — it was very much a When Harry Met Sally moment. The smooth yet rich flavours will certainly be satisfying for the sugar fiends and we thought if served in a clear cup would visually add to the enjoyment of seeing the different layers. Our final stop was Longrain Bar where we met up with the other group and could finally rest our stomachs to the stick cocktails that I’m sure will be a crowd pleasers at Taste of Sydney. My likeable Ping Pong cocktail of lychees & passionfruit pulp with a lethal kick of Eristoff vodka will be a good choice for those who like it fruity although the generous fruit pulp can become a sipping challenge so drinking without them was the answer for me.

Video highlights

PROS: Visiting 5 restaurants in a very short amount of time, Meeting the chefs to discuss their dish proposals for Taste of Sydney
CONS: Sample dishes served won't exactly match what will be available at Taste of Sydney, Finding our way out of Westfield Sydney at night was no easy task, Tuesday event on a school night with cocktails is no easy task
MUST TRY: Returning to Saké and The Cut to try their dishes plus A Tavola for their signature dish of Pappardelle con ragu di manzo

Saké Restaurant & Bar
12 Argyle Street, The Rocks NSW 2000

Executive Chef Shaun Presland

Saké cocktail Tasty Budo - Fresh grapes, Kozaemon 3yo junmai sake & citrus

Saké Hiramasa Kingfish Double Crunch Sushi Roll sampler

Saké Hiramasa Kingfish Ceviche sampler

Saké Pan Seared Ocean Barramundi sampler

Jennifer Lam (Jenius) and Vicki Lu (Once Upon A Foodie) tweeting up at Saké



The Cut Bar & Grill
16 Argyle Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Executive Chef James Privett

The Cut Bar & Grill Charcuterie Tasting Plate with Cornichons and Mustard Fruits sampler

Château Riotor, Côtes de Provence Rosé, France


Decor and Sher Wagyu Beef signature dish

Driver for the night

Bluetooth keyboard and tablet = genius!

Jennifer Lam (Jenius) and Vicki Lu (Once Upon A Foodie) tweeting up in the car

Spiedo Restaurant & Bar
Level 6, Westfield Sydney, Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Head Chef Fulvio Lancione

Spiedo Strozzapreti, zucchini, prawns, saffron matched with Marchisio Arneis, Piemonte

Side of focaccia bread

Vicki Lu (Once Upon A Foodie), Jennifer Lam (Jenius) and Ashley Gatte (Stellar) tweeting up at Spiedo


Bar seating

A Tavola
348 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Chef owner Eugenio Maiale (middle) and kitchen team

Cremino al Cioccolato: Amedei giandula chocolate creama, salty caramel gelato, Italian meringue

Dessert matched with Normanno Zibibbo, Sicily

Main dining room

Back dining area

Bumped into Adam Dunn ordering the Pappardelle con ragu di manzo and Gnocchi con cavolfiore e tarttufo

Signature dish: Pappardelle con ragu di manzo ($34) — will try this next time (Not available at Taste of Sydney but hopefully next year)

Gnocchi con cavolfiore e tarttufo ($33) — will try this next time (Not available at Taste of Sydney)

Aesop in the toilet — it's Darlinghurst of course

Longrain Bar
85 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Efficient and professional bartender

Ping Pong cocktail: Lychees & passionfruit pulp are added to Eristoff vodka, lychees and fresh lime juice

Cocktails: Stickmata, Ping Pong, Acapulco Gold, Ginger Rogers

Bartenders cocktail ingredients

Bloggers getting their shots

Meghan O'Hanlon Taste Festivals Event Director going in for the cocktail shot

Bar area

Gin shelf including The West Winds Gin and Hendrick's Gin

Love is in the air

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