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Sydney, Today


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Going to Sydney soon for a few weeks on business (and they're trying to get me to relocate there... we'll see about that). Where should I eat besides Quay and Tetsuya's?

I wish I could have tasted it.

My dinner at Tetsuya's ten years ago, for comparison.   Caviar and snow egg sandwich; beetroot and blood orange salad; gazpacho with spiced tomato sorbet; tuna tartare with goat curd and wasabi  

NYC is more my speed, but Sydney is pretty awesome. It depends on what you're into. Sydney definitely has NYC beat as far as the weather and natural beauty. It's also sparkling clean and very upscale (and seems mostly crime-free). Everything is a little more expensive, but I think you may get a little better quality for your money (usually). But NYC has way better transportation, a much deeper bench of not just restaurants, but all cultural activities, and NYC isn't a 12+ hour flight from everything.

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My memories of Tetsuya are more vivid than my memories of Quay, so looking forward to your take.

 

A deeper bench of cultural activities here in NYC? Oh, yes. Of my visits to Sydney, the longest lastest three months. I was still resident in London then, and for all the stunning weather, beautiful views, great food, and friendly people, I was desperate to leave by the end.

 

You'd go out in downtown Sydney on a weekend evening, and apart from a couple of busy hubs like Kings Cross, the place was deserted. "Where is everyone?" I'd cry merrily.

 

There were often good bands playing pub gigs. To get to one of those gigs could be an hour's drive (Sydney's footprint is immense). I saw several plays there I wouldn't have seen if I'd been in London or NYC, and even went to a Sheryl Crow concert.

 

I think that sums it up. But a wonderful place to visit.

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Dinner tonight at est. - this is the flagship fine dining restaurant of the Merivale group, which operates a lot of popular places in Sydney including Mr. Wong, Palmer and Co., Felix, Papi Chulo, etc.

 

est. is located above Establishment - a very popular nightclub in the CBD. When I arrived for my 9pm reservation on a Tuesday night, the music was blasting. I took the elevator up to the first floor (this is one of those buildings with a European numbering system where the first floor is the second floor), which leaves you off at the front of the restaurant. Upstairs the room was somehow completely quiet.

 

The dining room is huge considering they only have 20 tables or so. Each table had about six feet of space on either side. It's a loft-like space, painted off-white all over, with Corinthian columns, hardwood floors with a gigantic rug covering most of the room, and old tin ceilings that have been painted over and from which hang a few small crystal chandeliers. I much preferred this space to Quay, but there was absolutely no view.

 

After being seated I experienced a new type of upsell I hadn't seen before - a guy rolled a cart of champagne on ice up to my table (dom and veuve cliquot) and asked if I'd like to start with a glass. I declined. (He didn't quote the price of course, but on the wine list the prices were $55 and $40 a glass, respectively.)

 

I went for the four course prix fixe @ $150 + $8 for coffee and petits fours. There was no amuse, but there was bread and water. Three types of bread, in fact - sourdough, wheat, and flaxseed. I asked the bread man for one of each - he didn't say anything, but I think the request jarred him. He didn't realize he was dealing with a professional. Good thing I got all my bread up front though - the bread man would not appear again for the remainder of the meal.

 

The first course was a mud crab salad with cucumber and avocado. This was very artfully arranged (as were all courses) - lots of cylinders and dots of sauce and stuff. It was a perfectly fine dish, but the most boring of the night.

 

The second course was a moreton bay bug - I think butter poached - with a creamy, citrusy sauce and red veined sorrel. This was excellent. The bug - they're really a type of slipper lobster - was just flawless. Like perfectly tender and rich/buttery tasting in a way that you wish lobster could be, but it never is. The sauce that came with it was inoffensive, but didn't really add much.

 

The main course was a saddle of venison with black pudding, beets, pickled blueberry, and more sorrel. Another terrific course - and better than the venison I had the other night at The Woods by quite a wide margin. This was the platonic ideal of venison - flawlessly cooked to a medium rare with a nice sear on the outside, slightly gamy, and perfectly tender flesh that you could almost cut with a fork.

 

The pre-dessert was a sweet cream gelato with meringue chips and tapioca. For dessert, a chocolate tart (which was I think basically a flourless chocolate cake - one of the better ones I've had) with toasted cashew ice cream.

 

Overall quite a good meal, probably a three star restaurant in NYC. I think Sepia is a more interesting restaurant, but est. would be #2 on my list so far.

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Yes, yes, that's it! Still there, eh? There was a nice pie shop on the same block.

Still there and still going strong. :D I'm not sure about the pie shop, though. By the way, Rockpool is no longer in the Rocks - they've moved to a new space on Bridge Street.

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You'd go out in downtown Sydney on a weekend evening, and apart from a couple of busy hubs like Kings Cross, the place was deserted. "Where is everyone?" I'd cry merrily.

And the Kings Cross hub is only a few blocks long!

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Ha, yes, rabbit I guess, although I was thinking of something more obvious.

 

Yes, Kings Cross is tiny. There's also that modern dockside development near Chinatown with lots of bars and clubs, but it wasn't very appealing.

 

ETA: And The Rocks itself, of course, but that's miniscule compared with, say, the East Village.

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The Rocks is the East Village of Sydney. It was getting late the other night and I asked someone what was open. "Oh when it's this late you have to go to the Rocks. There's the pancake place and a 24 hour diner." *sigh* I ended up at McDonald's.

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