April Dish of the Month (Sepia)

April 2017, Sepia

Scampi, jamon cream, kabosu, cured pork cheek, woodear mushroom, crackling

Very good restaurants come and go, however truly great ones like Sepia are never forgotten. So many of Chef Martin Benn’s dishes will forever reside in our memories, as culinary flashpoints, and moments of sheer extraordinary genius. On this night of eighteen snacks and dishes, there was a mid-point succession of courses, that transcended exemplary, into something far more surreal. The brigade executed liked gods, not just like a well-trained and professional group of exceptional mortals ‘in the zone’. This course, danced both on, and within the edges of the elusive quest, a sublime combination of produce, cohesive flavours, subtle textures and exquisite balance. Perhaps, it was unfair to pick just one highlight from so many, but everything around me lacked relevance, as my senses acutely focussed and appreciated the sheer beauty and magnificence of that moment; perfection – The Holy Grail…

Note: Sepia closes towards the end of 2017

Ground Floor, Darling Park, 201 Sussex St, Sydney

Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm,  Lunch: Friday & Saturday from 12noon

Reservations: (02) 9283 1990

Website: https://www.sepiarestaurant.com.au/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sepiasydney

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sepiarestaurant

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sepia-Restaurant/128634303855334

See previous winners…

What’s on my plate

That’s hot:

Banksia Bistro

Mise en Place (http://gaultmillauevents.com/)

Burrawong Gaian Heritage Breed Chickens (https://www.facebook.com/lbvlebonvivant/videos/1500014213363932/)

that’s not:

Mains arriving when the entrees are not finished. This diminishes the experience for diners, and is a very poor reflection on the restaurant.

Delivering wines by the glass without either the bottle, or any detail of the wine.

Front of House without the faintest idea of where the produce comes from, or even worse when they ask, and the kitchen doesn’t know either!

March Dish of the Month (Amaru)

March 2017, Amaru

Big Eye Tuna / Sweet Ginger / Trout Pearls / Cured Melon Juice

With the sustainability of fine dining under siege, it is hard not to argue that restaurants like Amaru and sixpenny, which redefine the boundaries, without the largesse and costs that are undermining others at the top end, are the more progressive way forward. Chef Clinton McIver, and his small but talented brigade, present dishes with notable finesse and balance, that speak and connect with a new generation of diners. This beautifully balanced, and vibrantly uplifting dish, resonated with a delicacy of flavours which is indicative of the new wave of impressive talent that is shaping our culinary future.

1121 High Street, Armadale

Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm, Friday and Saturday from 12.30pm

Reservations: (03) 9822 0144

Website: http://www.amarumelbourne.com.au/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amaru_melbourne/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amaru_melbourne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Amaru-Melbourne-893353370779329/

See previous winners…

February Dish of the Month (sixpenny)

February 2017, sixpenny

Tomatoes w Clam butter & Caviar

There is a notable maturity and self assurance at sixpenny, both in terms of the narrative and structure of the menu, and with how gracefully the front of house showcase the overall experience. The departure of Chef James Parry has seen Aaron Ward confidently fill that void for Daniel Puskas, who continues to surprise and wow diners with his intuitive vision and exceptional execution. This restrained yet sophisticated dish is just one example, with the precise acidity and clarity of the core ingredient offset by the lush silky mouth feel of the divine clam butter, with caviar being a fitting exclamation mark.

83 Percival Road, Stanmore

Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm

Reservations: (02) 9572 6666

Website: https://www.sixpenny.com.au/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sixpenny_au/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sixpennysyd/

See previous winners…

January Dish of the Month (Eleven Bridge)

Hand rolled strozzapreti w Moreton Bay bug & crustacean butter

hand-rolled-strozzapreti-w-moreton-bay-bug-crustacean-butterThere should be a new reference point for the definition of sublime in the dictionary. Chef Phil Wood’s exquisite crustacean butter is extraordinary, and the joy from it being served with flawlessly hand rolled strozzapreti, and succulent Moreton Bay bug ticks all of my boxes. That rare gift of an intuitive sense of balance is bestowed upon very few in the culinary world, yet every single dish I taste from this Chef, convinces me he fully deserves to be considered in that elite category. If Eleven Bridge maintains these standards, it will forge a legacy in its own right, and I for one look forward to following its journey very closely.

11 Bridge Street, Sydney

Monday to Saturday from 5.30pm, Monday to Friday from 12pm

(02) 9252 1888

Website: http://www.rockpool.com/elevenbridge/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elevenbridge/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neilperryrockpool

See previous winners…

December Dish of the Month (Popolo)

Squid ink fregola, calamari ragout, cuttlefish crudo, bottarga

squid-ink-fregola-calamari-ragout-cuttlefish-crudo-bottargaThere is an inherit beauty found within dishes embracing the simplicity of well-sourced produce, cooked with both love and respect. This memorable dish from the talented and ascendant Chef Naomi Lowry, and Popolo’s soulful pasta Chef  Stefano Gaspa, is a perfect example of that timeless premise. The lushness of the flawless house-made squid ink fregola , offset by the clarity of flavour from the stunningly fresh calamari, amidst the nuance of textures, and haunting resonance of the sea, embodies the very essence of my love of food. It is a dish of abundant joy and promise, that celebrates the ethos and generosity of spirit, that passionate owner/operator Flavio Carnervale has encouraged, and seen flourish at Popolo, since opening in the shadow of more grandiose adjacent concepts, long since passed. This is a restaurant, that is genuinely both for, and of the people…

30 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay

Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm, Friday to Sunday from 12noon, 11.30am to 2.30pm, Saturday to Sunday from 8am

(02) 9361 6641

Website: http://popolo.com.au/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/popolosydney

Instagram: http://instagram.com/popolosydney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PopoloSydney

See previous winners…

November Dish of the Month (Bistrot Gavroche)

Sautéed veal sweetbreads, with green peas, onions and bacon


Head Chef Frederic Colin pays homage to his grandfather Henri, who mentored him from the age of ten, with dishes from the heart, just like this one. The simple comforting joy of well cooked sweetbreads unfortunately been lost to a modern generation of diners, but occasionally there is a Chef nostalgic enough to revive them with as much humility  as Bistrot Gavroche did on their menu. This classic dish is all about flavour and texture, and rarely is it as skilfully executed, and with as much love, as was evident here.

Level 1, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale

Monday to Saturday 6pm to late, Sunday 6.30 to 9.30pm, Monday to Friday 11.30am to 2.30pm, Saturday to Sunday 10.30am to 3pm

(02) 8065 7223

Website: http://bistrotgavroche.com.au/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bistrotgavroche/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bistrotgavroche/

See previous winners…

Travel Event (Chile: A destination of contrasts & adventures in the Pacific)

the-esmeraldaIn this age of globalisation, it is hard to find a tourist location that still has any sense of real authenticity left to offer like Chile, with such a vast range of diversity. Part of three continents (South America, Oceania, and the Antarctic), with over 6,000 km’s of coastline, it offers some of the most stunning and picturesque locations on the planet. This event promoted by ProChile, and held at the Ovolo Hotel Woolloomooloo, was coordinated with the arrival of the spectacular Chilean Navy tall training ship, The Esmeralda which was docked nearby. Launched on 12 May 1953, it currently sails as an ambassadorial ship of goodwill, promoting Chile, receiving invitations from countries all over the globe years in advance. On a previous visit in 1961, an estimated 100,000 people bid farewelled ‘The White Lady’ as she departed Sydney Harbour.

Read more…

October Dish of the Month (Bishop Sessa)

Coal grilled Burrawong Gaian Pekin duck breast

coal-grilled-burrawong-gaian-pekin-duck-breastThe synergy between the Chef and a Producer, who share the same ethical and sustainable philosophy, is “The Grail” that every true food lover searches for endlessly on every plate. In my opinion, award-winning Burrawong Gaian is the best poultry producer in Australia, and Chef Paul Cooper is one of the best exponents of showcasing their genuinely pasture raised produce in the land. The resonant smokiness from the sublime duck breast being astutely grilled over coals, served with intensely evil duck fat fudge, hay braised carrots, and a memorable coffee and pumpkin puree, ticked all of my boxes. This is what real dining is all about, spectacular produce, respectfully and innovatively prepared by a Chef at the very top of his game!

527 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Monday to Saturday (Lunch & Dinner)

(02) 8065 7223

Website: http://bishopsessa.com.au/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bishopsessa

Instagram: http://instagram.com/bishopsessa

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BishopSessa

See previous winners…