Sunday, 16 June 2013

Go for Gold and March Into Mervale at est. - 2012

I am going to start clearing my backlog and write about some of my favourite meals that I have had in the last couple of years. Today’s entry is about Est (Level 1, 252 George St, Sydney), the 3 chef hat restaurant run by Peter Doyle in the Merivale complex, Establishment Bar. Est, in my opinion, is the best 3-hatted place to go if you are looking for value for money (if there is such a thing for 3 hatted restaurants which are all notoriously expensive).  Best time to go for value is at lunch ($69 for 2 courses, $95 for 3 courses and $118 for 4 courses) or when there is a special Merivale promotion running (such as March into Merivale). I have been to Est a few times so I will actually be writing about 2 separate visits.

Go for gold at est. – 7 August 2012
During the 2012 London Olympic Games, est. was running a deal that entitled you to 2 courses for $65. This is extremely good value at est given entrees cost around $40 and mains close to $60 during the dinner service at other times. On this occasion I came for dinner with friends SP and MS. I did not take pictures of their food so I will only write about what I ate (although their dishes looked awesome too!). Also this meal was back in the days when I was still on the good ol’ point and shoot camera, so apologies for the quality of the pics.

Entree: Steamed murray cod fillet, shaved abalone, snow peas, black fungi, ginger – green shallot vinaigrette
This entree (which I think can be ordered as a main) is est’s interpretation of the Cantonese style streamed fish with ginger and shallots. I looked at the menu online before I visited and knew I was going to order this dish because Cantonese style steamed fish is one of my favourite things in the world to eat!   

So what did I think of this dish. The better question is how many superlatives can one come up with for a dish? This was a dish deserving of every praise I can think of. The fish was soft, moist, tender, just an absolute delight to eat. The fish was just beautifully cooked to perfection. And the ginger -green shallot vinaigrette was seriously amazing. Everyone already knows ginger and shallots are perfect with steamed fish and this is no exception. I remember after I tasted a bit of it I paused, dropped my cutlery and was like, “Wow, this vinaigrette is frigging awesome!” I think could have drank that vinaigrette it was so good.

The steamed murray cod is usually on the menu at est and is the course that I will always steer towards at est. A truly amazing dish and one of the best in a Sydney fine dining restaurant.

Main: Braised beef cheek, dijon mustard spätzle, fresh peas, trompettes de mort and truffle (extra $10)
 The main, although not quite as good as the entrée, was an amazing dish. The beef cheeks were so soft and tender, just melts in the mouth. The meat could be pulled apart easily with a fork, as all good slow cooked meats should. There was so much flavour in the cheeks due to the slow cooking process. And of course the earthiness from the truffle rounds out any dish with big meaty flavours perfectly.  

March into Merivale – 23 Feb 2012    

This was a meal that I had during last year’s March into Merivale. I am not 100% sure how much I paid for this meal but I think it was $55 for 2-courses (good value) and then $28 for the dessert (yikes!). The pictures on this occasion were taken with an even worse camera (a 3.2 megapixel Nokia E71 phone), so apologies again!

Entree: Salad of spanner crab, heart of palm, avocado, pink grapefruit, mint and lemon
This is a very light and pleasant salad that is a great course to start a meal on.  The flavours are wonderfully balanced. The sweet, delicate crab meat is wonderfully paired with the citrus from the grapefruit and lemon and also the freshness of the mint. The only downside of this dish is that there is not a lot of crab meat here. Maybe est is going for quality over quantity here? 

Main: Ginger glazed pork neck, compressed cucumber, pickled chinese cabbage
Great dish that est offered on its downsized March into Merivale menu. The pork was very tender and succulent. There were some really nice flavours going on here: sweet, sour and savoury.

Valrhona chocolate delice, blueberry compote, whey pearls, yoghurt - lime sorbet
I decided since I was already at est I should splurge and spend $28 on a dessert. The delice uses Valrhona chocolate, a very expensive and very yummy chocolate from France, so it’s got to be good right? Right, it was awesome! Just delice-ous! The chocolate declice was rich, smooth creamy goodness.  Something you just want to keep digging more for! The blueberries taste so nice with chocolate. And the lime sorbet is nice and refreshing and great to cut through the richness of the chocolate.    

Highlight: Steamed murray cod with ginger – green shallot vinaigrette is one of the best interpretations of Cantonese style steamed fish you will find in Sydney. 
Lowlight: Not a lot based on the above visits. Spanner crab salad entrée was tiny. 
Overall: Est is one of Sydney's best restaurants and it is not hard to see why it has been awarded 3-chef hats for so many years. Est is also the best value out of of the 3-hat restaurants if you come during the lunch service. 8.5/10 (Excellent)

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