Pier Restaurant, Rose Bay

http://www.pierrestaurant.com.au

594 New South Head Rd, Rose Bay NSW

Pier Restaurant has been on my list to visit for a while. Famed for its preparation of fish, it represents a kind of pilgrimage in Sydney for all things piscine.

I was also keen to see what kind of restaurant it was after Greg Doyle (who was in the restaurant cooking) publicly handed back his chef hats a few months back.  It prompted a rather arsey article from the SMH, saying it wasn’t the owners right to hand them back etc. Rather amusing.

The restaurant itself is set in a large sweeping bay, a few miles east of Sydney. The building itself is not much to look at from the street, but from the inside it’s a thing of beauty. Encased in glass, it’s easy to feel as though you’re sat in the bay, being surrounded all sides by water and boats.

It’s a table for one and I’m sat overlooking the water. There is a weekend set menu, but since I’m intending to get a good view of what the restaurant can do I opt to create my own tasting menu.

I start with a house speciality of Cone of King Salmon. It’s the freshest of salmon served with roe and capers. It was spoiled a touch by a liberal touch of salt, but not unpalatably so.

The meal kicked into gear with kingfish carpaccio with micro herbs, tomato and lime water vinaigrette. It was a dish to let the quality of the fish sing with the lightest of touches. The vinaigrette was zingy without being overpowering. It was a sublime plate of food, one that makes everything seem right with the world. I didn’t think I was one to get so enthused about carpaccio….

Another winning dish was roast scallops with cauliflower tofu (disguised as the middle scallop) with caramelised veal sweatbreads. It was a few of my favourite things on one plate. This was a meaty preparation of the finely cooked scallops. The caramel gave depth and sweatness. The tofu was another interesting taste and sweetbreads make anything great. I wish I could have had more. But then the next dish arrived…

It was the standout dish on the day. I’d seen the spanner crab lasagne on the a la carte menu and just had to try it (at a full supplement cost). It was simply glorious. A mountain of sweet crab with zucchini & soft herbs. The lasagne was nice al-dente and a champagne sauce bought it all together. Nothing fiddly about this dish, just beautiful.

The fourth great dish in a row – steamed hapuka with peas, pearl onions and a mushroom consomme. The hapuka was steamed to a point that it was still gelatinous. The consomme was deep and woody in flavour. It was a dish to savour and appreciate the range of flavours.

The final main continued the excellent cooking, but not necessarily the brilliant flavours. It was roasted barramundi with baby beetroot, lentils, speck & cavalo nero. Again the fish was cooked to perfection, with the waiter asking that I eat it from the thin ends so that the middle could continue cooking. The flavours combined well, but it served to highlight how mundane the fish was. Barramundi is just not an interesting enough fish to spend good money on. I enjoyed almost every mouthful, but barramundi & I are now over…..

My meal came to the end with a single dessert, which I think served to reflect the focus of the restaurant – almost an after-thought. I was served a lemon souffle with passion fruit syrup poured into steaming pudding. I love a souffle with it’s fluffy airiness capturing the essence of its fruit, but this dish was pretty extreme. It was intensely lemon, not in a good way. It was impossible to eat without the cream to balance the huge essence of lemon. You certainly knew you’d eaten something, but I was unable to finish it.

And so my degustation at Pier came to a close. It certainly wasn’t  a cheap meal, but it was worth every penny. The quality of fish and the lightness of cooking was unparalleled. Not the most inventive of dishes, but doesn’t matter because it’s the skill of preparation which is on display here.

Four of the dishes I had here were truly memorable – really delicious plates of food. From my experience of Sydney, this is really is the place to go for seafood. It’s sadly not an everyday occasion, but despite what the impending SMH Food Guide might say, it’s too good to miss.

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One Response to “Pier Restaurant, Rose Bay”

  1. Reemski Says:

    Pier’s exceptional pastry chef, Katrina Kanetani, recently left, taking with her their reputation for amazing desserts

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