Marque (2), Surry Hills

4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills

We came here last year for a terrific value lunch and it was only a question of time till we returned for the full enchilada….It was Vanessa’s birthday and after a good martini at Sticky Bar and a confusing present we arrived for dinner.

Although a small venue it’s nice they don’t try and hem in the customers. Lots of space for couples to make small talk. It’s clearly the place for a special occasion. Service is pleasant and we don’t need any prompting to go for the degustation – nicely positioned as a journey through Marque’s most memorable dishes.

The well-known chaud-froid egg is served. As noted before, these are beginning to pop up increasingly regularly as restaurants with aspirations. It’s a great way to start a meal – sweet, bitter, creamy, salty.

The first course is almond jelly with blue swimmer crab, almond gazpacho sweet corn & avruga. This dish is equally about texture as taste, but unlike our recent meal at Manse, the crab is able to shine through. The dish with the almond & sweet corn is a little sweet, but the avruga manages to balance it out. We like.

The next dish was one of those thought-provoking dishes which although not exactly a dish to salivate over was memorable and interesting – Fine slices of abalone & radish with light crisp bread. Abalone is an acquired taste, being as far as I can tell primarily about texture. Al-dente if we’re kind. It is a food to be prized because of it. The radish provided nice contrast, but it’s a bit of a neutral dish. Not sure I’d order it again with enthusiasm, but abalone needs further investigation.

Another fish course followed – a beautifully cooked scampi with scampi anglaise & witlof. It was pleasing and simple. A dish that didn’t need much thought, just an appreciation of good flavours.

Our next dish was a highlight, again seeing the influence of L’Arpege, we were served seasonal vegetable with pork consomme. The vegetables were individual cooked and exceptional, but the dish was really made by savouriness of the consomme. Almost anything is improved with pork and it really brought out the vegetables’ flavour while creating an overall enjoyable dish. Loved it.

After that high we were looking forward to the roast muscovy duck. It was tasty tranche of meet, but really lacked a decent jus to bring the dish together.

Clearly no degustation would be complete without a wagyu course. Ours was was piece of sirloin served with beetroot sorbet and a sticky deep jus. It was a pretty intense course and complimented by a nice heavy shiraz. We really enjoyed the fact it was so butch. However the dish was slighly marred by korabi/beetroot (?) ribbons which were cumbersome, tough and a little wtf… not a spoiler though!

The desserts started and we were upsold an additional course not in the tasting menu. It was  framboise with cream, meringue and creme anglais. Framboise are truly delightful and not a fruit you readily come across. It was a pretty irresistible dish – indulgent, sweet, creamy. Awesome. We almost came to blows over it, fighting for the final spoonful.

The pre-dessert – The Sauternes custard was as written before lovely.

The final course was ‘chocolate mousse’. It was easily one of the best desserts I’ve eaten. It was kind of deconstructed with an aerated block of mousse with freeze dried chocolate, served with a salted caramel sauce. It rocked.

The dessert put the finishing touch to a very good meal, which ran the gamut from subtle, textural to gutsy dishes. Not all dishes were winners, but the range displayed and effort made this a meal greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s also evident that this is a restaurant which is constantly evolving, not just in techniques used but seeking inspiration from other cuisines. It makes it a place to keep a constant eye on and of course return to at some point.


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