Monday, August 03, 2009

Pier, Sydney

594 New South Head Rd, Rose Bay NSW Australia 2029 | phone: +61 2 9327-6561

On day 2 of our 5 days of foodie inspired adventures in Sydney, led us to Pier in Rose Bay. Sydney really put on the weather for us- rain and lots of it! Quite a novelty for us Melbournians. Only problem is, it's never fun driving in Sydney, less fun when you don't know how to get where you're going and even less fun, when you're driving in the hail during peak hour!

I'd been interested in visiting Pier since Peter Doyle released his beautiful cookbook of seafood dishes. My interest was sparked again when watching the beautiful dishes that were served to the contestants on Masterchef Australia, when they visited the restaurant.

The restaurant has a very unique layout and is literally built on a pier, jutting out into Rose Bay. During the day, you would have a beautiful view through the huge windows which surround the room. However during the evening, you have a view of beautiful fairy lights bobbing up and down on the bay and in the background the lights of Sydney's well to do's houses shining onto the water. Sensational spot.

We decided to go with the 5 course Degustation menu - $139. Not cheap, considering at most Melbourne restaurants of the same calibre would offer you probably 8 courses for that price.
But the seafood here, is apparently literally the best around and is meant to taste like it has been caught to order. So hopefully it's worth bill.

To start we were offered up little Kingfish 'Ice Creams'. The cone was very similar to a wonton wrapper, which had been deep fried into a cone shape and well seasoned. The Kingfish was served raw and finely diced, mixed with capers, maybe Kaffir lime? and maybe some other little bits and bobs. So simple, yet, so tasty. Slightly too salty, but you know when it's that really good salt and it just makes it better?

Next was the Salad of Marron, with Foie Gras Mousse, Cherry Carpaccio and Banyuls reduction. Tonight was a night of firsts and I'd never had marron before. It's very much like a cross between a bug, a prawn and a yabby. A baby lobster even. Their little claw is very cute and delicate tasting. The foie gras mousse was very rich - luckily it was a tiny portion. Once again - delicious. Only I was hoping the next 3 courses were going to get somewhat bigger.

Third dish was the Pan roasted Scallops with Saute Veal Sweetbreads, Shimeji Mushrooms and Cauliflower / Madeira Tofu. 2 Scallops with a small circle of tofu in the middle. Scallops were perfectly caramelized and rare in the middle, just the way they should be. The Cauliflower tofu was like a little panna cotta and nice and wobbly. On top was a little caramelized sweetbread. This was my first ever sweetbread, so I was keen to give it a go. For those of you that don't know - a sweetbread is not a Brioche or other pastry like bread. It is in fact the thymus glands and pancreas glands of lamb, beef, or pork. Delicious, huh? Would you believe it actually was? It had the texture of very, very, tender chicken schnitzel and the taste of a mild bone marrow. I would definately eat them again. This was our third dish and still a very, very small one. At this point I was well past being appetised and was keen for a big plate of food.

Well, this wasn't to be. Our forth course, the main was another minimalist experience. Pan roasted Barramundi with Caramelised witlof, Serano ham, dutch carrots, with bitter orange sauce. The Barra fillet was small, but brilliantly cooked. Crispy skin, soft in the middle - yum! However, considering if you had to buy this dish from the a la carte menu it would cost you $52, it was tiny. My two baby carrots weren't soft, they were still hard in the middle- not sure if this was intentional. The plate was warm of course, but it was so warm/hot that it cooked the bitter orange sauce to the plate, meaning that I was unable to drag my fish through the sauce as it had been dried out by the over hot plate. This wouldn't have been helped by the fact that it was spread so thinly, either. The sauce that I did get however was delicious!

The final dessert, my last chance at filling my tummy, was a Spiced Pear Souffle'. Can you believe I'd never eaten a Souffle before? I was excited! I was served in the little copper saucepan it was cooked in and the waiter poured in the spiced pear sauce into the center of the souffle at the table for the theatrical experience. I dug my spoon into the souffle and was very disappointed. The taste was very average. It just tasted like sweetened egg whites. They were too sweet, so much so, neither of us could finish it. The egg whites didnt appear to be flavoured prior to cooking and they probably were only flavoured by the sauce that was poured inside. The egg whites inside even appeared to be undercooked. A massive let down.

Five courses later, I had that horrible feeling. I was paying $139 for dinner and I was still hungry. When eating such amazing food, you don't want to be rolling out the door, but you want to at least feel satisfied for a few hours. But at the end of the meal, I could have eaten another 5 of the same courses. That said, the flavours were amazing, the experience was sensational (let's just pretend I didn't have that souffle). The service was great, however- a little impersonal. The room is amazing and I can see why they can charge what they do for food. We had a really nice night at Pier, I would recommend it for the great cooked food and for the amazing flavours. However, I'd also suggest that you be wary, that it's one of those places where you may need to have a Kebab on the way home to fill you up.


Anonymous said...

Ok Adski,
Ive just come back form Sidders and had a great meal at Pier. I beg to differ on the souffle. I had a strawberry one and bet you would think the mixture was undercooked in that one too. Maybe you need to eat more souffles. One type is made with custard and egg white. My strawberry one was basically egg white rather than mixed with a thick custard.
A question though: what would you say the diameter was of the souffle saucepan?? And how much would it hold?
Cheers, Simone de Bourgeois

Adski said...

Hey Simone,
Thanks for your note.
Glad you liked Pier, it was an amazing restaurant, great service and most of the food was brilliant.
However, the souffle was less than appealing. It was sickly sweet and at the bottom the egg whites appeared to be still unset.
I do love a challenge of being able to cook something better than a restaurant, so when I got back from sydney, I tried making my own souffle, as I'd never done it before. I made one with a Rhubarb Coulis. I have to say that I did enjoy mine much more than the one I had at Pier. It was fluffier, more set and less sweet.
It may have been that you would have loved that pear Souffle at Pier that we had. Unfortunately it just wasn't to either of our tastes.
Not sure about the souffle saucepan, but I know that you can pick them up at the essential ingredient or simon johnson. From memory, I think you'll be paying at least $150.