Becasse, Sydney

http://www.becasse.com.au

204 Clarence Street, Sydney

I’ve been a happily married man for two years now.  We were wed in Sydney and have now been living here for a little less than a year and a half. But I do have some unfinished business. Becasse was our first meal together as a married couple, a day after the wedding, but we were too tired to have the full degustation, so we had to return and a dinner with a couple of good friends provided the perfect excuse.

So a few weeks ago we found ourselves staring down the barrel of one of the most interesting tasting menus I’ve seen for a long time. We’re sat upstairs and the lighting is a little low, which creates a relaxing atmosphere, but not great for photos.

We start with a canape of goats cheese and olive on bruschetta.

There’s no need to think too much about this, but it was a nice little bite that prompted the ordering of a nice bottle of Chardonnay.

Bread is a selection of 3 – baguette, pumpkin bread and rosemary bread.

The rosemary bread is the hit of the evening. It seems that all of us around the table are particularly partial to a bit of rosemary. The offering of further bread does not get refused. We all have trouble restraining ourselves from gorging ourselves.

The amuse is an heirloom tomato salad.

It’s sweet and subtle. You can’t beat a flavoursome tomato. It is a joy that is increasingly rare to find. Like other dishes it did not last long.

We start proper with a salad of marinated heirloom vegetables with sugar snap mousseline and black olive.

Many chefs are taking a leaf out of Michael Bras’s book demonstrating their culinary skill with seasonal vegetables and the individual preparation of. I really appreciate these dishes since they show how great vegetables can be. It’s another, if not comprehensive example. Very good. It does makes me think of eating more salad (though the thought doesn’t last long….)

The next course is marinated yellowfin tuna and shaved Wagyu with white asparagus, mushroom and a chilled consomme.

This is a superb course, but again it’s surprisingly mostly about the vegetables…While I enjoy a bit of surf & turf, it serves to accentuate the delicious accompaniements.

The multi-dimensional aspect of the cooking continues with confit of blue-eye and smoked scallop with sauteed cuttlefish, cauliflower and buckwheat.

Unlike the recent scallop dish at Assiette this is a balanced and light dish. Arguably it has a little too much sweetness going on, but the meatiness of the blue-eye brings it together. The fish is served to the point and it’s beautifully succulent.

The meal is slowly building in substantial courses and our last fish course is Roast mulloway with king prawns, soubise puree and smoked crustacean emulsion..

This is a lovely seafood dish to end on. To be honest, not sure what the soubise is but the fish and prawns are well cooked, with good al-dente vegetables. The saucing and emulsion bring everything together to create a taste of the sea. A cliche, but true.

The meat courses begin with caramelised suckling pig and braised pork tail with parsnip and compressed apple

Again, no complaints. Far from it. The pork has been given due cooking time, so the meat is soft and yielding. It’s partnered with an unctuous pork tail. Everybody enjoys it. It’s heartening to see that nose to tail eating is catching on. The parsnip & apple might look a little pedestrian, but their preparation makes it engaging and interesting.

There is a choice for main course – ballontine of guinea-fowl or the option that the whole table chose: Pot-roasted shoulder and fillet of lamb with goars curd, broad beans, garlic and rosemary.

The different cuts of lamb provide good contrasting textures. The accompaniements are great, even though they’re Atkins friendly. It’s a very enjoyable plate of food.

We settle in the for the final stretch – a palate cleanser of Champagne creme chiboust with orange, lavender and kiwifruit

The palate cleanser moniker probably plays down the course. It’s a good mix of fruit with the champagne providing a bit of zing. The lavender doesn’t overpower or make me think too much of old people. It does the job of setting the scene for the final course, though we are approaching fullness.

We have two options for dessert, which we both order: I cling on to the banana creme brulee with salted peanut brittle and milk coffee sorbet..

It’s a very American dessert, nicely presented. The milk sorbet collapses into the brulee when the brittle is broken. Everything you could want in one dish, save chocolate, which brings us to the other dessert.

If there was a dish that didn’t excel in this meal, then this dish was probably it. 70% bolivia chocolate and caramel cadeau with vanilla and milk sorbet

I couldn’t fault the ingredients. It’s just the dish didn’t excite as much as the description. Too much chocolate to caramel ratio, I think and there’s the milk sorbet again. But as dishes to end a meal on, it’s not something to complain about.

We persevere with the final petit fours… Fini.

To be honest, I’ve never thought Becasse one of Sydney’s leading restaurants, choosing to place it behind the likes of Marque in consideration. But this meal was excellent and one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in Sydney. The company no doubt was a significant factor, but the cooking consistently impressed with great individual preparation of the various components, brought together with good attention to detail and a clear desire to delight the diner. The care given to vegetables here was of particular note.

It must be said that the service was not the most attentive, which is probably excaberated by the dual-level dining room. It was noticeable, but not something to get annoyed about. It made a fine evening last even longer (4.5hrs!). But I probably wouldn’t change much, which I why I will look to return sooner rather than later.

 

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One Response to “Becasse, Sydney”

  1. Reemski Says:

    First thing, you got the crappy seats, always aim to be sat downstairs. I think they put the larger tables and late bookers up there.

    Second, I agree, i think it’s one of the best restaurants in Sydney. With no view to distract, they have to really step it up, and I think they do.

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