29 October 2012

Halloween Dessert Degustation Pop Up Dessert Bar at Studio NEON, Waterloo (26 Oct 2012)

136 Raglan Street, Waterloo NSW 2017

Happy Hallo-sugar-ween Time

As soon as I saw the Halloween Dessert Degustation Event ($80) advertised I knew I had to be quick before it sold out due to the limited seats available. The second session seemed a better option so I could at least try and eat something savoury before arriving to counteract the sugar overload from dessert being served first. Billy Law (A Table For Two) was joined by Karen Low (Citrus & Candy) and Phuoc Huynh (Phuoc'n Delicious) in producing a six course menu of four sweet and two savoury dishes. First up was petit fours of pineapple marshmallows, balsamic vinegar strawberry pate de fruit, and black sesame & charcoal powder macaron with pumpkin and Fromage blue cheese filling. The blue cheese macaron was the most challenging for me to eat being so different but I thought Billy managed to balance the flavours well. Phuoc's Deconstructed Apple Crumble was enjoyable although I somehow wished it was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or double whipped cream to help bind with the apple and green tea sorbet and candy popping crumble. By the time Karen's Chocolate Parfait with Fisherman's Friend chocolate dirt was served my sugar overload hit red. The dish was enjoyable and it didn't need too much of the chocolate dirt to appreciate its minty flavour. To match the Halloween theme I thought a few mint leafs and some white jelly babies could have created a creepy cemetery scene of zombies.

Thankfully savoury dishes were served next which they didn't do in the first session. Mexican smoked pulled pork was tender and the Asian style chilli and soy lamb ribs was very flavoursome and both went nicely with the sides of balsamic braised red cabbage and cauliflower puree. The Pumpkin soup with red pepper oil was good and the pork crackles perfectly crunchy. The soup with crackles would have been good as the first dish as an amuse-bouche to help line the stomach before the onslaught of sweet to follow. For those who were still craving more sweets the 'Snow White' by Billy would have done the job. Seeing all the white chocolate domes reminded me of a scene in Alien where they're about to hatch. Hot raspberry coulis was poured over the dome to melt it away before eating. It visually looked like a scary eye ball decaying in front of you — great for the Halloween theme. All that was missing was a few black licorice spiders sitting around the plate and some green jelly maggots. I loved how so many people took the time and effort to dress up which I sadly chose to be boring and didn't — maybe next time.

PROS: Fun atmosphere, Interesting venue, Intimate setting, Open kitchen to watch the cooks in action, Most guests actually made an effort dressing up (except me), No shortage of food
CONS: Starting with dessert can be heavy going on the stomach, Cocktails seemed to take a while to make but had very cool names and well-presented
MUST TRY: Black sesame & charcoal powder macaron with pumpkin and Fromage blue cheese filling at least once to challenge the taste buds, Dressing up next time
VERDICT: For dessert lovers there was no shortage of sugary delights but a challenge for those who prefer eating savoury dishes before dessert

Transfusion cocktail being made

Cocktail samplers

Complimentary ARVO beer for guests

Petit fours: Pineapple marshmallows (by Karen), balsamic vinegar strawberry pate de fruit (by Phuoc) and black sesame & charcoal powder macaron with pumpkin and Fromage blue cheese filling (by Billy) — macaron was the most challenging for the taste buds but was done well

Apple pearls with moscato to go with Deconstructed Apple Crumble

Deconstructed Apple Crumble: Apple and green tea sorbet, popping candy crumble, Muille Fuille and apple jelly (by Phuoc) — would have loved a scoop of vanilla ice cream or double whipped cream with it as well

Chocolate Parfait with Fisherman's Friend chocolate dirt, caramelised white chocolate, long pepper infused cherries (by Karen) — flavours worked well together although I started to struggle at this point with sugar overload

Savoury popcorn to help balance the sugar overload

Mexican smoked pulled pork and Asian style chilli and soy lamb ribs (by Billy, meat supplied by Black Ridge Farm) served with balsamic braised red cabbage, walnut and apple puree, cauliflower puree (by Karen)

Pumpkin soup with red pepper oil, and pork crackles (by Karen) — pork crackling was excellent (by Billy)

'Snow White' Raspberry mousse, oat crumbs, lychee and rosewater gel, pistachio praline, freeze dried raspberry, white chocolate dome and hot raspberry coulis (by Billy) — clever presentation with enjoyable flavours although a struggle to finish with sugar overload

White chocolate domes reminds me of the eggs about to hatch in Alien

Gangnam styling

I promise — this sugar hit won't hurt a bit

Anyone missing a pair of legs?

Billy's intimate whisk fetish

Phuoc's wicked magic potion

Karen clearing the sinus

Cocktail loving guests

Texting buddies

Horny diners

Feed me

Potential food bloggers?

It never happened if you don't take a photo of it

Best costume winner

Best costume winners

Dressed to impress

All this sugar is making my hands bigger

Vampire versus Witch

Unique toilet sink

Reflection shot in my new t-shirt

View Larger Map

24 October 2012

glass brasserie: Crave Let's Do Lunch, CBD Sydney (23 Oct 2012)

2/488 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Steaking out a craving

After spotting the oysters at the kitchen pass during a Salute Peru event with Chef Ricardo Zarate I was tempted to return to try them. It's very rare to find a restaurant that serves oysters with their shell lid. The only other place I've seen in Sydney that did it was the late Quarter Twenty One. It's a sure sign that the oysters have just been shucked to order and for a passionate oyster lover like myself the fresher the better to appreciate the all important oyster brine. The Oysters ($42 dozen) of the day were Merimbula Sydney Rock and Coffin Bay Pacifics. The oysters were a bit smaller than hoped so it could be due to the season. I preferred the pacifics which were a bit more plump and retained more brine in their deeper shell. The shucked presentation of some of the rock oysters was a bit on the rough side and I found a few oysters with a bit of shell which is always unfortunate. The migonette sauce was done well and very good. I generally order at least 3 oysters to have one natural, one with lemon and another with the mignonette sauce. The very nice complimentary bread was served warm. One of the waiters offered us a second helping but never returned which was a shame.

Crave's Let's Do Lunch in October provides a perfect opportunity to sample a dish with wine and a coffee at a reasonable price making it generally good value. The Spiced Rangers Valley flank with carrot cumin puree, mustard leaf, Madeira jus ($38) was enjoyable with tender and flavoursome meat. Cooked medium as per the kitchen recommendation. The elements on the plate worked nicely together and went very well with the 2010 Brown Brothers Tempranillo King Valley & Heathcote Vic which was smooth on the palate. As an extra treat to celebrate my friends birthday we tried the Selection of sorbets ($14) which was very good. We liked the lemon probably the best and then the coconut. The cherry was also very flavoursome. My Chocolate, ruby grapefruit & blood orange, candied ginger, salted chocolate sorbet ($20) had a nice combination of flavours. The grapefruit and blood orange helped to cut through the rich chocolate. I'm thankful to our friendly and polite waitress Alex for reminding us that coffee was included with the deal. The Green Tea and Hot Chocolate were both good.

Other visits to glass brasserie:
23 Oct 2012 - Let's Do Lunch, Oysters, Dessert
11 May 2012 - Hilton introduces new breakfast menu
5 Feb 2012 - $20 Corporate Lunch Deals
31 Oct 2010 - Let's Do Lunch

PROS: Nice decor and ambience, Friendly and polite service (Alex), Quality ingredients, Let's Do Lunch deal can be good value considering it includes wine and coffee
CONS: A la carte menu can be quite expensive, Oysters on the small side at the moment and shuck presentation on some a bit rough
MUST TRY: Returning to try other dishes on the menu
VERDICT: Let's Do Lunch at glass brasserie is good value considering you get a quality dish with wine, bread and coffee in a nice restaurant setting with friendly service
Complimentary bread - served warm and very good although when offered more it never arrived so service must have forgotten
2010 Brown Brothers Tempranillo King Valley & Heathcote Vic - very good, smooth, nice on the palate, not too much tannin, easy to drink

Oysters ($42 dozen) Merimbula Sydney Rock, Coffin Bay Pacifics (preferred) - shucked to order and presented with shell lid. They were good but was hoping they were going to be a bit more plump in size

Merimbula Sydney Rock Oysters — brine retained but a few a bit roughed up

Coffin Bay Pacific Oysters — brine retained although on the smallish side

Excellent mignonette sauce

Spiced Rangers Valley flank with carrot cumin puree, mustard leaf, Madeira jus ($38 inc wine and coffee) - tender meat, nice flavour, no gristle found

Selection of sorbets ($14) — coconut was good, cherry was flavoursome, lemon was very good and my favourite

Chocolate, ruby grapefruit & blood orange, candied ginger, salted chocolate sorbet ($20) — flavours worked nicely together, grapefruit and blood orange helped cut through the rich chocolate

Green Tea and Hot Chocolate included in meal deal — both good

Nice decor and no shortage of business lunches

Sides menu — French fries is always tempting

Let's Do Lunch $38 including beverage and coffee

Oyster menu

Dessert menu

Bill $152 for two

These signature dishes look like they're worth coming back for to try

'Please tell us what you really think' — I certainly will

View Larger Map
Glass Brasserie 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