The unique and diverse grand slam of industry awards that Quay has achieved is obviously well deserved, but regrettably tonight the overall culinary experience is not entirely representative of such. The evening starts promisingly enough with a stunning table and a complimentary NV Bollinger, however sadly the amuse bouche is so tragically over seasoned I can only assume no one bothered to taste the batch prior to service.
I look forward to the tasting menu despite this glitch, but the sea pearls whilst providing a subtle play on texture, unfortunately do not sufficiently deliver the clearly defined contrasts in taste that were expected. Surprisingly, the presentation is also found wanting. Fortunately, the next course of confit shaved South Australian squid, octopus coral, garlic custard, baby radishes, native violets and roasted squid consommé is not only a stunning visual triumph but delivers spectacularly with a cohesive harmony of flavours that is simply breathtaking. The lovely melodic jazz and sunset provides a brooding simpatico upon which to reflect on a dish that truly inspires a sense of culinary hope.
Our next dish of confit pig belly, braise of abalone and cuttlefish is texturally complimented by a divine handmade silken tofu which provides this signature dish with a nuance that is both innovative and unique in comparison to all the other countless interpretations that have been inflicted upon us elsewhere. Angels however truly begin to sing when the roasted loin of Suffolk lamb, cooked to absolute perfection, and served on sheeps milk fromage with heirloom baby carrots touches upon the sublime. The Arbequina olives, nasturtiums, capers and calendula provide delightful counterpoints to what is unarguably the dish of the night, if not the month.
Unfortunately, my Rangers Valley beef fillet substituted for the poached breast of squab initially announced as being served rare, is disappointingly only just blue throughout! I had never previously returned a dish in a three hat restaurant, and truly never desire to do so again, but this fundamental error is not acceptable at Quay or elsewhere. To their credit, they not only re-do my portion but my dining companions to that originally expected. I should say the matter was handled very professionally, with the service throughout the whole night being absolutely impeccable, inclusive of some very thoughtful and consummate wine matching.
The dessert of raspberries, violet, almond and vanilla cream is a pleasant way to finish, with exceptional petits fours served with our well extracted coffee. We are warmly farewelled as we depart, but I cannot help thinking we have definitely caught Quay on an off night. Unfortunately, the kitchen had erred fundamentally with two dishes and my whole experience has left me underwhelmed. Cleary Quay is better than this, but three hats must not only symbolise excellence, but unconditionally ensure it is delivered consistently every service.
Upper Level Overseas Passengers Terminal Circular Quay West, Sydney
Tuesday to Friday 12noon to 2.30pm, Monday to Sunday 6pm to 10pm
(02) 9251 5600