Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quay Restaurant - Birthday lunch for Ryan

Overseas Passenger Terminal
        For Ryan's birthday, I scheduled in a "You Day" (rostered day off) on Friday to spend the day with him and take him out to lunch. Unfortunately I'm just never very good at keeping suprises to myself so he already found out/knew where we were going. I was actually quite suprised when I was able to book a table for lunch at Quay just 2 months in advance, I guess dinner is a more popular choice for dining (I saw on their website that they are now booked out Friday and Saturday nights for dinner until September 2011 for tables of 2 and 4). I thought lunch on the harbour would be a nicer touch, especially to take advantage of the view, and  it's also better for photographs too of course! ;)
        I think at this stage of our relationship, presents arn't all that important anymore. I know it sounds so cliche and corny but quality time together and a nice meal is the best present. Though Ryan did say 'Thank you for a great lunch but I would appreciate some socks and undies' haha I told him he had to wait until his first Father's Day for that =D. We don't dine out alot and and it's nice to splash out a little when the occasion calls for it, especially on birthdays *wink wink nudge nudge*. Maybe an anniversary too if we are up to it.

        We were early for lunch so walked around taking in the beautiful weather and the beautiful views.  It was such a beautiful day to be out and about. We don't frequently come down this far from Circular Quay, especially pass the OPT. We noticed that there was an observation deck that neither of us had known about so went exploring up the building.

        And we stumbled upon the most magnificant views of Sydney Harbour and our two icons. I can never get sick of these views, I'm always in awe at our harbour's beauty especially when I see it like this.

Opera House on the blue water.

        Top down view of the popular pop up restaurant Greenhouse by Joost from the observation deck, which closes at the end of this month. 'I could stay here forever' the mister says on the observation deck. After about 10-15 minutes he asks me if I know if there's a book shop nearby in The Rocks. So we head down the road to The Rocks to kill some time before lunch.

        The Rocks markets was buzzing with people, and the aromas of food cooking! It definately started whetting out apetite and got us hungry and very eager for lunch!

Oh who's that good looking boy? ;)

Gorgeous gorgeous strawberries - which I didn't buy =(.

        Ryan spotted the pastries at the Brasserie Bread stand and gave in to his weakness of Croissants. 'Just a light snack before lunch' he insists as he's too hungry, I insist that we share it (I too have a weakness for Croissants and am also hungry but don't want to spoil our appetite for lunch).

        And their Croissants are good! When I tweeted 'Just had a scrumptious croissant from the @brasseriebread stand at The Rocks farmers market mmmm' they replied with 'It's a gold-medal winner that one :)' and it sure was!

        We finally head back Quay and are shown to our table. We're asked if we'd like anything to drink and ask for some water to start off which comes out quite swiftly. Then we're left sitting there twiddling our thumbs waiting for our menu for a while watching waitstaff walk pass. While waiting we take in the stunning view, our table is around the side looking directly at the Opera House so we miss out on the Harbour Bridge but it is still stunning none the less. Ryan asks me whether I think Peter Gilmore would be in the kitchen and before long we see him stride through the dining room. It was a little exciting moment, star spotting almost hehe ;). We get to see him again at the end of our meal too, at another table giving the girl a signed book and posing for a photo with the couple.
        Our menu comes and we have the option to dine from the a la carte menu at 2 courses for $85 or 3 courses for $105 or there is the option of Peter Gilmore's favourite dishes 8 course tasting menu for $220. We go for the 3 courses as it's a little kinder to the wallet, and we do like to pick and choose our own dishes.

        An Amuse Bouche comes out almost instantly. I always have trouble retaining details of dishes in my memory but I think (with Ryan's help) that this is a Confit of yellow fin tuna, cucumber and fennel jelly, green apple salad, capers and creme fraiche. It was a little shot glass full of flavours and textures. Sweet, tangy, smooth, crunchy, it was a lovely teaser to the meal.

        I was too tempted by the cocktail list and ordered myself a Lychee Martini. It was strong but it was absolutely delicious.

        Sucker for bread we are, especially when we're hungry! I chose the wholemeal sour dough and Ryan went for the polenta sour dough. Nice and crusty on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside.

        Ryan's Entree: Butter poached coturnix quail breast, pumpernickel, morel and ethical foie gras pudding, walnuts, quinoa, truffle custard, milk skin. I demand that we go halves on our meals but when they come out it is a little tricky to eat half the dish and the serving is quite small, but I did end up eating half of this dish. It was packed full of flavour and textures, I especially loved the smooth foie gras pudding. The butter poached quail was also interesting as neither of us had eaten quail like this before. Ryan described the meat as almost gelatinous.

        My Entree: Sea Pearls - Sashimi tuna, sea scallop, crab, smoked eel, octopus (order in the photo is back to front). I insisted that we try Quay's signature dish of pearls. It was just all to pretty to eat but I did manage to disect each small sphere in half to let Ryan experience them too. This dish is as delicate to eat as it looks. This dish was very high on visual appeal and texture but flavour wise it wasn't my favourite, but that's only because I love my strong flavours over delicate subtle ones. Ryan definately appreciated it better than I did.

        Ryan ordered a glass of wine with his main. Can't remember what it was but it was at the suggestion of our waiter (semillion?), and it was quite a nice glass of wine that went perfectly well with Ryan's main.

        Ryan's Main: Roasted Bass groper, kabu turnips, hairy melon, hasuimo, radish pods, vongole juices, oyster cream. The fish was fresh and firm, delicately seasoned, pairing well with the vongole juices and oyster cream.

        My Main: Confit of Gippsland lamb loin, smoked white carrot cream, fennel infused milk curd, Pantelleria capers, nasturtiums, fennel pollen. The only confit I've ever had before this meal is confit duck. The lamb was still firm but yet the meat was just so nice and tender. This is the pinkest I've had my lamb too but I didn't mind at all. Loved how the capers gave a bit of a zing to every mouthful.

        We also ordered a side of Potato Puree. It was just so utterly smooth and creamy and buttery. We definately needed this to go with our mains and me being such a sucker for potatos loved every spoonful, I kept telling Ryan that if it weren't for the fact that we were dining at Quay I would pick up the plate and lick it clean.

        My Dessert: Eight texture chocolate cake featuring Amedei Chocolate. 'Are you a chocolate lover?' The waitress advises me that this dessert is extremely rich. I wasn't worried at all, of course I love chocolate! The cake comes to our table with a jug of hot chocolate sauce to be poured over it at the table. 'What's that?' dear boyfriend asks, 'it's the eighth texture'.

        The chocolate sauce melts through the layer of chocolate and 'sinks' though to the layer of mousse inside. For research purposes I ordered a different dessert to Ryan. 8 textures of chocolate though, how can one resist that? Especially one that is a chocoholic. I couldn't quite detect and name all 8 textures but there's smooth, crunchy, chewy, crispy, sweet and bitter (yeah the last 2 are more tastes than textures). It is truly a rich dessert not for the faint hearted. I lick my plate clean, well almost, I am in Quay after all.

        Ryan's Dessert: White Nectarine Snow Egg. When he found out we were coming to Quay he pretty much announced that he was definately having the Snow Egg for dessert. And the Snow Egg he had, but I insisted that I should have some too. I do let him enjoy it to himself though so only have a few spoonfuls.

        The snow egg was definately a fantastic end to a great meal. Soft fluffy meringue, silky custard 'yolk', a crisp toffee shell, cooling bed of granita. It was a very nice dessert full of flavour and texture but not overly too sweet and rich in contrast to the eight textured chocolate cake. If we ever come back here I'm having the snow egg! All to myself please.

        Takes us a while to flag down someone to take a photo for us, not the most good looking backdrop but a momento of a great dining experience and an awesome birthday present to Ryan. By this stage we are both full to the brim with no room for tea or coffee and started to feel a little sluggish, 'I think I'm going into a food coma' I tell Ryan, 'I think I am too' he replies.
        Overall, our meal was a memoreable one and the only let down was the slow service but we'd definately come back here if we had the chance to do so again.

        Couldn't come this close in proximity to Baroque and not sample their famed macarons though. Again with a fish memory, flavours are from what I could remember and from the taste and smell after sampling. Top L-R: Salted Caramel, Chocolate, Pistachio and Cherry, Blueberry (or Blackcurrant?), Rosewater. Bottom L-R: Raspberry, Chocolate and Coconut, Coffee, Strawberry and Vanilla, Passionfruit, Jasmine. Armed with my macarons we stroll back to Circular Quay and hop on a train back to Strathfield, happy and content and in need of a nanna nap, badly.
        P.S Baroque macarons are superbly made, the flavours were hit and miss but I don't think I have seen such perfect macarons before. And the texture was pretty perfect, nice crisp shell, not too thin or too thick, soft chewy centres, ratio of shell to filling was good. Out of all the ones I've tried in Sydney so far, these are my favourite.

Quay on Urbanspoon

Baroque </P>
<P>Bistro Bar Patisserie on Urbanspoon


Celeste @ Berrytravels said...

So glad to read that your visit to Quay was a good one.I've heard some not very good reviews so was a little nervous as I'm looking to visit Quay at some point this year!

The snow egg looks amazing!!

MelbaToast said...

I am totally in awe of your stomach room...sounds like an awesome day. I've been to Quay once for a work function, but barely remember what it was like. I'd love to try the snow egg (all to myself thanks)! I wonder if the view was at all spoilt by Greenhouse being right in front of it?

Chanel said...

Looks like a gorgeous lunch, such beautiful presentation! Those desserts take the cake though (haha lame pun) ;-)
I'm a fan of a nice dinner/lunch as a gift!

Anonymous said...

What a great b'day present! Everything looks divine, especially the quail and the chocolate dessert.

joey@FoodiePop said...

Quality time is definitely the best present I agree! What a great lunch at Quay, even though a lot of those dishes are repeating themselves now. And I love the macarons at Baroque; the shells are so wonderfully crispylicious!

OohLookBel said...

What a fantastic birthday! Great idea to take the day off, too. These days, I also like to give a gift we can both enjoy, heehee.

penny aka jeroxie said...

A delightful birthday outing... Quay is on my list but let's see...

Richard Elliot said...

Wonderful birthday present Angie. I hope Ryan appreciated it!

Just because you were at Quay I don't think you should have held back from licking the plate! ;-)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a wonderful lunch! And I know what you mean, the service from some members of staff can let it down but the food and view are lovely.

chocolatesuze said...

sounds like a delicious day! happy birthday ryan!

Gastronomy Gal said...

looks like you had a fab day. The lamb looked gorge. Happy Bday Ryan

sugarpuffi said...

OH MAI GADDDDD! u tried all the signatures! i would kill for some sea pearls, 8 textured cake and snow egg....

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

I like the idea of Quay by day... Signature dish dining ;)

Georgia said...

Looks like you both had a marvellous day, such a great idea for a birthday present! And boy, that snow egg looks divine!

Gianna@theEmptyFridge said...

Happy Birthday Ryan, oh my god - im not a chocolate lover but that 8 texture cake just looks AMAZING!

Hopefully one day, if demos and I get organised we can try out Quay as well!

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

The husband and I have never been big on gifts. It's actually nicer to spend quality time together, be it sharing a meal or another activity, rather than feel the need to gift something just to mark an occasion.

Also quite nice on weekdays when there aren't as many people about - so leisurely and indulgent!

thang @ noodlies said...

well happy birthday! everything looks delicious. the sea pearl look stunning as does the lamb loin

Lisa said...

nice pictures, thank you for sharing !