30 September 2012

Coast Restaurant: Modern Australian, Darling Harbour (31 Aug 2012)

The Roof Terrace, Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour NSW 2000

Coasting along Darling Harbour

Thanks to George from Wasamedia for inviting me to do a guest review of Coast Restaurant. My online booking was made via Restaurant.com.au which offers a 30% discount on a range of quality restaurants for an $8 booking fee. The booking website was well-designed, easy to navigate and could save a group of diners a fair amount of money. If I was a paying customer for this meal I would have saved $70.80 minus the $8 booking fee on the $236 bill. I'll definitely be keeping this website in mind if dining at one of their other partnered restaurants. Coast has a nice water view across Darling Harbour and spacious interior. Wines by the glass are priced mainly between $11 and $15 which is probably about what you'd expect for the nice setting. The 2010 Marc Bredif 'Vouvray' Chenin Blanc ($12) was good and went well with the oysters. I also liked the 2009 Faisan Estate Shiraz ($13) to go with my lamb. I found it a challenge to pick my dishes because most of the dishes sounded pretty good on the menu. Before the entrees were served a couple of amuse bouche samples were provided. I was tempted to order the seared half scallop, tomato and ginger jam and preserved lemon as my entree and after trying the sampler I would have been happy with the choice. The meats of the Prosciutto, bresaola, capocollo and salumi with pickled vegetables ($25 entree size) were thinly sliced and the pickled vegetables were surprisingly good. My Regional rock oysters ($44 dozen) were thankfully shucked to order but came at a premium price. They were unfortunately lacking a bit on the prized brine and just served with lemon while many restaurants of this quality would also include some red wine vinaigrette.

Mains were substantially sized which helps justify the price. Crispy skinned barramundi, surf clams, roasted fennel and fennel butter ($38) had a good balance of flavours. The clams were plump, the skin was crisp and the sauce flavoursome enough to mop up with the complimentary bread. My Roast Saltbush lamb rump, smoked eggplant puree, parsley and olive salad ($41) was topped with a wafer thin eggplant crisp. I thought they could easily sell these little gems by the bowl as a bar snack. The meat was tender matched with complimentary flavours on the plate. I liked how both dishes kept to a few distinct flavours and didn't try and over complicate the dish. The Brussel sprouts, roasted hazelnuts and lemon ($11) were OK but not as moreish as the ones at Porteno. Before dessert a palate cleanser of caramel ice cream with almond praline was provided. I liked how the toffee wasn't too hard and the flavour combo was good. If you ordered three courses you certainly won't leave hungry as the desserts were decently sized as well. The Chocolate hazelnut terrine ($16) had rich flavour and the Fig and Amaretti tart ($16) flavours worked well together although I'd love it more if the pastry was thinner like at Fix St James and Bird Cow FishCappuccino ($6) and Hot Chocolate ($6) come at a premium price but includes petit fours and a refill making it good value. A cheats sugar hit would be to just order a coffee so you can get the petit fours and save money on a dessert.

PROS: Water view, Tempting menu, Knowledgeable and friendly service (Michela), Generously sized dishes, Nice decor and ambience
CONS: Not all diners get the amuse bouche and dessert palate cleanser but regulars or nice customers possibly will, Oysters didn't have as much brine as hoped
WORTH TRYING: Oysters because they're shucked to order, Seared half scallop with tomato and ginger jamCrispy skinned barramundi, Roast Saltbush lamp rump, Coffee so you get the petit fours
VERDICT: A nice place to settle in for a long lunch with water views and dishes that are generously portioned to satisfy even a hungry businessman. 
Santa Vittoria Sparkling Mineral Water ($10 large)

NV Viticoltori Ponte Prosecco, Veneto, Italy ($11)

2010 Marc Bredif 'Vouvray' Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France ($12)

2009 Faisan Estate Shiraz, Orange NSW ($13)

Complimentary bread

Amuse bouche: seared half scallop, tomato and ginger jam and preserved lemon

Amuse bouche: spinach and ricotta gnocchi with sage burnt butter

Prosciutto, bresaola, capocollo and salumi with pickled vegetables ($25 entree size)

Regional rock oysters, served natural ($44 dozen) — many other restaurants also include a red wine vinaigrette

Brussel sprouts, roasted hazelnuts and lemon ($11)

Crispy skinned barramundi, surf clams, roasted fennel and fennel butter ($38)

Roast Saltbush lamb rump, smoked eggplant puree, parsley and olive salad ($41)

Eggplant crisp so thin — they should serve these as bar snacks

Palate cleanser: caramel ice cream with almond praline

Chocolate hazelnut terrine, praline toffee wafer ($16)

Fig and Amaretti tart, lemon thyme ice cream, quince syrup ($16)

Cappuccino ($6), Hot Chocolate ($6) — premium price but comes with petit fours and a refill if required so pretty good value considering this

Sugar options although I always prefer the look of rustic raw sugar cubes

Petit fours - chocolate dipped caramel, panaforte, chilli chocolate truffle - all very nice

Wine by the glass menu


Dessert and cheese menu

Spacious restaurant setting

Perhaps the table cloth creases could be ironed out or is that being too fussy?

Nice water view of Darling Harbour

Clean toilets although privacy screens between the urinals would be a welcomed improvement

View Larger Map
Coast on Urbanspoon

28 September 2012

est. Moët & Henschke with Lunch Promotion, CBD Sydney (3 Aug 2012)

Level 1, 252 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Fine dining with free wining

est. is one of those three hatted restaurants that seems very expensive unless you’re very rich. Entrees are nearly $40, mains hover around the mid $50 and desserts are all set at $28 but with a ‘Moët & Henschke with Lunch’ special promotion during August I thought it was a great opportunity to hit the a la carte menu. If you ordered two courses at $90 you’d receive two bottles of wine for free but the three courses at $110 with three bottles of wine included sounded like much better value and it was. My ordering strategy was to pick the most expensive dishes which came to $127 which meant I saved already $17. At first I thought we had the choose between Moët or Henschke but was informed during ordering we had a menu of 22 wines to choose from which was fantastic. With a hasty scan of the normal wine menu I applied the same ordering strategy of trying to choose the most expensive wines and ordered the N.V. Moët & Chandon ‘Brut Impérial’ ($145), 2009 Stonier ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay ($95) and 2008 Moulin De La Lagune Cabernet Blend Haut-Médoc ($130). These would have cost $370 but because of the promotion we got them for free — awesomeness. And they were really nice wines, especially the Cabernet Blend.

For entrée I ordered the Salad of spanner crab ($40) which had nice flavours that worked well together but had dish envy when I saw the Moreton Bay bug ($39) which I’d go for in hindsight. The Grilled white scallops ($39) was surprisingly quite a generous serving which I probably would have preferred as well. I was very happy with my main of Rangers valley angus beef fillet ($59) which was tender with good flavour. One of the diners thought it was ‘possibly the best steak they’d ever had’. It was very good although Fix St James also comes to mind for quality steaks as well. The Duck breast ($55) was nicely cooked with crisp skin, a decent portion size and a dish many thought they’d be happy to order next time. Serving sizes were quite generous overall but we managed to find our dessert stomach to push on for a sweet ending. All desserts were nicely presented and it was hard to pick a favourite. They all had dish components that we enjoyed so I’d recommend go with the one that appeals the most to you. Service was professional yet welcoming and down-to-earth. There was one time when we had to prompt service for our red wine with the mains but was no drama. The dining experience was well worth it with the promotion savings.

PROS: Nicely presented dishes, Quality ingredients and wines, Professional service including table dishes all served at the same time, Nice decor and ambience
CONS: You need to allow at least 2 hrs for a long lunch, Not a fan of the table supports which aren't an issue on the larger round tables near the front windows, Very expensive but promotional deal made it great value
MUST TRY: Moreton Bay bug, Rangers valley angus beef fillet, 2008 moulin de la lagune cabernet blend haut-médoc
VERDICT: Having three bottles of wine included for free made the dining experience very good value considering the quality of dishes, ambience and service — I'd be tempted to go again if repeated
n.v. moët & chandon ‘brut impérial’, épernay - france ($145, complimentary with deal)

2009 stonier ‘reserve’ chardonnay, mornington peninsula - victoria ($95, complimentary with deal

2008 moulin de la lagune cabernet blend haut-médoc, bordeaux – france ($130, complimentary with deal

Selection of promotion wines to choose from — my strategy was just to pick the most expensive ones which ended up being $370 worth

Complimentary bread

Grilled white scallops, pickled pear, winter purslane, foie gras, pedro ximenez - lentil vinaigrette ($39 + extra $10 4g truffle shavings on top)

Moreton Bay bug, cavolo nero, green peas, mini radish, young turnips, bonito flakes ($39)

Salad of spanner crab, jicama, lime, apple jelly, elderflower ajo blanco ($40)

Duck breast, grilled treviso, slow poached quince, duck jamon, fresh walnuts, crisp polenta ($55) 

Braised beef cheek, dijon mustard spätzle, fresh peas, trompettes de mort ($56 + extra $10 for truffle butter)

Rangers valley angus beef fillet, young leeks, bone marrow, morel mushrooms, nettle puree ($59)

That's one serious looking steak knife

Seasonal vegetables ($12)

Caramel poached pear, fennel, toasted hazelnuts, white coffee ice cream ($28)

Valrhona chocolate delice, confit orange puree, almond praline, yuzu ice cream ($28)

Pave of granny smith apples, vanilla cheesecake, rose – earl grey ice cream ($28)

Passionfruit souffle, passionfruit sorbet (20 minutes) ($28)

Petit fours — the est chocolate branded one is my favourite

Take away box available for bread if you simply can't let it go to waste

Bill $562 for five (4 diners x 3 courses, 1 diner x 2 courses) which included $370 worth of wine as part of the promotion

Shavings of truffle available

Nice decor and ambience

I wonder if they'd notice if I 'borrowed' one of these?

3 hats all the way

I was here — reflection shot of self

You know how I love these sort of table supports — NOT!

View Larger Map
Est. on Urbanspoon

Simon Food Favourites Map

View Simon Food Favourites in a larger map Key: BLUE - Location visit and review PINK - Simon Favourites and places offering something special

Small Bars in Sydney map

View Small Bars in Sydney in a larger map