Visiting this little cafe has been something that has eluded me for quite some time.
Generally, on Sundays where AJ and I aren't working we'll make an effort to try breakfast somewhere - but this cafe isn't open on a Sunday! So, luckily we decided Saturday at Pigeon Hole with Samwise would be the thing to do to break the fast.
The aromas of freshly baked sourdough and roasted coffee beans fill the air as you enter the rather pokey shop front. It's a tight setup but there is sufficient space for a bigger party if you get there early enough. An eclectic selection of furniture and decorations makes the cafes a very pleasant environment.
We sampled three dishes from the breakfast selection - the yoghurt and muesli, the croque monsieur and the baked beans. Accompanied by a cup of some superbly made coffee - Pigeon Hole really does make a good place to start your day. All dishes feature fresh and seasonal ingredients provide some real joy to each mouthful.
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Pierre Herme is known for bringing the macaron to the wider world. His chain of Laduree outlets sell special teas, preserves and of course the colourful bite-sized mouthfuls of joy we all now know.
The presentation of macarons from the Westfield outlet in Sydney CBD is fantastic. We asked for just 6 (they were $3.20 each) and had the choice of different boxes which were beautifully decorated. A great gift idea for foodie friends or even for those who may want to try something french (apparently the outlet has its macarons flown in from France - but I later discovered they are made elsewhere in Europe).
The flavour - well, this is where i am quite critical. The flavours were good, but not great. Not $3.20 great. The sheer quantity of macaron-makers out there makes it easy to become a connoisseur and while my palate may not be 'right', these certaintly didn't live up to their 'world-changing' reputation.
Friday, 15 February 2013
It is consistently rated one the best restaurant in Australia by countless magazines, reviewers, etc. So of course, I felt compelled to try it at least once; this my friends is Sydney's jewel of fine dining; Quay.
AJ and I were in Sydney for a little trip at which I 'popped the question' - but prior to that special event we visited Quay and a few other dining 'must-do's.
The initial issue with Quay is a reflection of its popularity - I had to book 6 months in advance. There was not a bare table in sight and this is certainly not a restaurant you'd be able to waltz into and grab a seat at unannounced.
Nestled amongst the International cruise ship terminal the restaurant has an amazing outlook on Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, the bridge, Luna park: all the skyline landmarks. It is a romantic view that was unfortunately obstructed by a rude cruise liner captain who decided to park his vessel right in front of our table (but the restaurant did warn me of this prior to booking).
Upon arrival we were escorted to a
tastefully decorated and modern upstairs room. White table cloths, polished silverware, freshly baked bread (with organic butter and sea salt condiments) - all the trimmings you'd expect in a restaurant of this calibre.
AJ and I decided to go for the fixed menu which comes in either 3 or 4 courses. The menu is seasonal and when I booked the four courses seemed to be the way to go but when we actually visited the fourth course options didn't really appeal.
In any event we choice to dine on the following; Smoked and Confit Pig Cheek, Squab in Consomee, Poached Chicken, Berkshire Pig Jowl, 8 Texture Chocolate Cake and of course - the famous Snow Egg.
Each dish is expertly done. Some diners may view the serving sizes are too small - and they probably are right - but there is a certain artistry to the plating and delicate preparation of these dishes. In every bite you are consuming every element the way it should be cooked. Simple ingredients like chicken are served to you in a way that seems you've never really eaten chicken before.
The favourite dishes of the above would be the poached chicken, the pig jowl and the 8 texture chocolate cake.
The cake - decadent as can be. Rich dark chocolate, velvety mousse, rich flowing chocolate: just ridiculous.
The jowl - superbly succulent. The crack of maltose that is melted over the top to envelope the portion of meat brings extra sweetness to the rich rendered pork fat. The combination of prune and cauliflower puree that sits beneath the star of the plate adds a great mix of flavours.
The poached chicken - well if you skipped what I said above - the chicken was amazing. As you cut through the knife you expect to see fibres running through this piece of chicken - but nothing. Velvety breast meat that was as smooth as butter and accompanied with an egg yolk brioche.
In addition to all of this richness AJ and I finished our meal off with some coffee and petit fours. The service was excellent and the waitstaff showed an outstanding knowledge of the menu and the beverages on offer.
Quay really did put on a great meal and you would expect no less from a restaurant that is as widely renowned. We'll be back soon (if we can get a table, and after I'm done saving :P).
Enjoy some of the pics below: