Tetsuya’s

http://www.tetsuyas.com

529 Kent Street, Sydney

My second visit to Tetsuya’s. I’d been about 17 months ago,  before I started this blog and had an enjoyable, memorable meal which had included some exquisite but also some ghastly dishes. I was keen to go back again and get a more considered opinion. My wife was out of town for a couple of days and clearly that gives me the opportunity to go crazy….. So lunch at Tetsuya it was.

It was relatively easy to get a table. Most restaurants have last minute cancellations and it never harms to make an enquiry a couple of days before you want to eat. Tets was no exception. I arrived for a pleasant Saturday lunch, which created for a different dining atmosphere.

The gated entry does add a certain sense of occasion and all part of the theatre of eating here. You can’t beat of bit of exclusiveness if you’re going to be parting with a few hundred dollars.

There are two rooms with views of a beautiful & calming oriental garden. It’s very picturesque. I’m sat in one of the far corners. As a lone diner, you can’t really complain. Yet my attention is pretty much drawn to the butter – mascarpone, parmesan & black truffle mixed with butter. It’s very good and is paired with some decent bread – warm sourdough rolls:

Of course there’s no menu and you get the opportunity to advise any dietary requirements before the meal begins. I quickly check that the two dishes I was not a fan of previously are not on the menu.

I’m heartened to find out that apart from the signature dish, it’s a completely different menu from what I had before. I had the perception that it’s a menu that didn’t change frequently, so I’m pleasantly surprised.

The meal kicks off with a cold butternut squash veloute with mirin cream.

It’s smooth and actually quite refreshing. Not particularly inspiring, but it’s reassuring in a good way, easing you into the meal, though i expected a bit more wow.

The (up-sell) oysters were next and worth the additional $10. They were beauties – plump and creamy in taste, without too much iodine. The dressing was ginger & lime and really brought out the flavour. I should have ordered more.

Sashimi of kingfish was next with a red bean and soy dressing. Good clean taste. Again, well done but nothing to get excited about.

The cooking started properly with slow roasted scampi tails with witlof. The scampi was exceptionally well cooked – soft and yielding. Lovely consistency. It was married with citrus oil and the bitter witlof. It was a fine dish, but it did represent 3 dishes on the trot with noticeable acidity.

Tetsuya’s signature dish followed – confit of ocean trout with diced zucchini and a dressed salad. It really is a lovely dish and worth the attention. It’s really smooth & has lovely depth of flavour. The fact it comes with a salad just makes it a little civilized. A dish to linger on.

Taking a turn, a semolina pasta dish arrives, a tomato broth with braised winter melon & sliced scallop. It’s again quite a comforting dish with nice muted & harmonious flavours. The winter melon is a novel ingredient for me and is there to provide some needed texture. It works.

One of my favourites dishes of the meal is octopus ravioli with oregano & tomato (with more citrus oil). It’s a riff on the much seen lobster ravioli. Whereas lobster is all about sweetness, the octopus is just great toothy goodness… not sure I can describe the taste, but you know.. & oregano just brings out the flavour more.

That signals the end of the seafood courses and the meat dishes follow, which I have to say are just a little underwhelming:

First up is slow roasted duck with kipfler potatoes and cabbage. I love a bit of duck and again it’s very well cooked – rare softness. The skin is actually a little salty, but it pairs well with the potato & cabbage. Of course it does. This is something we could all cook at home. Not really 3 hat food…

Deboned rack of lamb with garlic & green beans followed. Again, it’s extremely tasty, but it’s not a dish to get excited about. It’s just a perfect execution of a well known and quite pedestrian dish.

The two meat courses bring us to the end of the savoury dishes and we head towards the sweets:

A palate cleanser of sorts is a cream cheese ice cream with figs & walnuts. It’s pleasant & light with a nice combination of sweetness & nuttiness.

My last meal at Tets produced a left-field pudding of comte & lentil, which was unique in its weirdness and not particularly palatable. The corresponding dish for this meal was a sweetened cannelini beans with creme anglaise & soy caramel. It was a much welcome improvement on before, but fell a little bit into the category of the previous dish – creamy & sweet.

The tasting menu finished with salted sable with creme pattiserie and Tasmanian leatherwood honey. I was hoping for a bit of chocolate, but this was a welcome departure, with a lovely simplicity, using good natural ingredients. The honey especially was pretty fine.

And so with a good coffee and the obligatory petit-fours, my tasting menu finished.

In summary this is a very good food experience and one that people should have if they enjoy gastronomy. I don’t think you will find more competent cooking in Sydney. The menu was enjoyable, but featured a few similar riffs too many. Restaurants like these should provide more than tasty food, I believe they should provide food experiences which includes if lucky one or two revelationary dishes. And for that it disappoints just a little bit.

If money is not a great concern it would be great to eat here on a frequent basis. The service is excellent and you can have a truly memorable meal, but if you’re after a one-off thought-provoking food experience, there are other places you might consider prior.

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