The Beresford

354 Bourke St., Darlinghurst

http://www.theberesford.com.au/

A Friday night out on the town and we decided to head to the Beresford Hotel. The end of the week always demands a decent martini. Knowing that the bar here was attached to a good restaurant ensured we had the making of a good evening.

I’ve yet to get into the bar scene in Sydney and the bar here was a good introduction – a huge horseshoe type, lots of places for perching and a decent selection of spirits. It’s a little disheartening to venture into a bar and see Bombay Sapphire as the only available Gin. There were at least six varieties here.

The well made cocktails didn’t last long and we made it to our table in the side restaurant – sleek with browns & metals, with tight spot lamps that lit up each table. If you lent over you could easily find yourself dazzled, so it was best lean back into the shadows.

The head waiter was enthusiastic and offered a good introduction to the meal; setting the tone for an enjoyable evening, which was then slightly dented by a waiter trying to up-sell me a bottle of wine at twice the price I’d indicated was acceptable. Hmmm… We took back the wine list and opted for a delightful Valpolicella.

It was a Friday night so we opted for the tasting menu – 6 courses for a reasonable $70. It was the first appetizer that did it for me – a cheese and truffle toastie – delightfully trashy & low-fi. Melted cheese with the pungent funghi. Does what it says on the tin. I guess….

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The bread was also excellent and dangerously moreish in view of the courses ahead. We couldn’t resist it.

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Next up was scallops with witlof, pancetta & walnuts. This dish was spot-on. Two very fat scallops quickly seared with almost translucent interior. The bitterness of the endive with saltiness of bacon could not be faulted and it made a pleasant change to the normal pea or cauliflower combinations.

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The peas were not missed for long, cropping up in the next dish with ham hock and potato gnocchi. This was another excellent dish. It’s a cliché, but the gnocchi were truly pillow-like and it all worked really well. It was a simple dish, but no worse for it. The only down-side was the relative size of the dish and the knock-on effect in finishing the rest of the meal.

The fish course next (apologies for the lack of photo) was pan-fried Blue Eye, broccoli, hazelnuts & truffle butter. Another fine dish, with a nice tranche of fillet on top of a bed of broccoli – this veg being quite brave to serve in a sophisticated restaurant!. The hazelnuts provided good texture and the truffle, an always welcome addition, providing some additional depth.

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It was at this point that we may have over-stretched ourselves with the tasting menu by substituting the lamb rump with cannellini beans for the beef fillet with jerusalem artichokes, porcini and garlic sauce. It was a bruiser of a dish – a surprisingly large piece of rare seared beef with a gutsy sauce. I would have happily devoured it as part of a three course meal, but it was a challenge to manage in these circumstances. An artichoke was left as evidence.

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Being pretty full by now it would have been pretty easy to satisfy us with a simple dessert, but what followed ended the momentum. A clue was offered by the unspecific description of ‘Dolci’… We received a chocolate mousse which was layered with an unspecified white substance with a strange wobbly texture. It was bland and most unpalatable. Even the chocolate mousse was tasteless. The only joy was provided by the pistachio crunch.

And so the meal came to an end. The waiter noted our lack of enthusiasm towards the dessert and we asked for the cheque.

The restaurant by now was packed and the wait for the bill was a while, but could have been worse. But the head waiter felt duty bound to apologise, giving us a couple glasses of dessert wine and then unnecessarily taking $50 off the final bill.

 

It was a surprising end to a pleasant meal let down by a dodgy course and some uneven service. But there was some very good cooking here – confident & simple. The dessert was probably an afterthought prepared in the afternoon, but all the food cooked to order was well received with a good balance of flavours, fitting with the rustic ethos. I’d be happy to go back.

7/10

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