Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sixpenny & Co with Pasi Petanen - 10 November 2013

The Sixpenny menu is given a 'Cafe Paci' twist, Pasi Petanen's 'photato' pictured above
So I'm back at Sixpenny... again! I am a big fan of what Daniel Puskas and James Parry are doing at their tiny Stanmore restaurant, so I invariably find myself coming back to what is one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney (click here for my entry on a previous visit). 

On this occasion, I am here for their monthly event, Sixpenny & Co., where Sixpenny teams up with another chef to create a unique menu for that day. Sixpenny & Co. takes place every second Sunday of each month. For November, Sixpenny joined forces with Pasi Petanen of Cafe Paci. As soon as I found out that Pasi Petanen was cooking in the Sixpenny kitchen, despite being overseas, I immediately made a reservation. I have been interested in dining at Cafe Paci for some time, I just hadn't gotten around to doing it yet.

Pasi Petanen is the former longtime right hand man of Mark Best at (the formerly 3 hatted) Marque Restaurant. Pasi was head chef at Marque for 7 years before deciding to venture out on his own for the first time by opening Cafe Paci (in the former Cafe Pacifico site). As there is only a one year lease at the venue, Cafe Paci is a temporary restaurant.  So anyone wanting to dine here will need to be quick, otherwise they might miss out (including myself)!  

Something worth noting is that the Daniel Puskas, James Parry and Pasi Petanen are all featured in the latest issue of Time Magazine for their connections with 3 of Europe's top chefs, Alain Passard from L'Arpege in Paris and Ferran and Albert Adria of El Bulli fame (see the following link for an interesting flowchart: I would have liked to have picked up this issue of Time Magazine beforehand so I could get them all to sign that page, but it hadn't hit the news stands yet. Oh well, I will just have to settle for eating food prepared by these three great Sydney chefs :)

The menu for today consisted of 6 courses. No menu was given to us beforehand, so the food that we were going to be served was going to be a surprise, which suits me fine as I like to be pleasantly surprised :) 

In typical Sixpenny fashion, the meal starts off with a series of snacks, which are brought out and explained to us by the chefs. These bite sized treats are always cute, a bit of fun and impress the taste buds. The first snack brought to our table was...
Fish and chips
... the fine dining version of fish and chips. Both the fish and the chips were presented to us as thin, crisp, see-through sheets. It goes without saying that these were both delicious. The fish reminded me of a fancy prawn cracker. As my wife is a vego, I got to eat both fish crisps so twice the fun for me :D The chips I have had before as these are a regular fixture at Sixpenny. Thin slices of kipfler potatoes are bathed in salt and vinegar, yielding a damn good potato chip. I think they might have toned down the level of vinegar, which I welcomed as previous versions were quite acidic.     

Semi dried pickles
Next up were some pickled vegetables, which included beetroot sprinkled with matcha powder, carrot and turnip sprinkled with horseradish. I enjoyed the freshness and crispness of all these veges, but our favourite was definitely the turnip with that lovely pungent hit of horseradish.  

Blood waffle & spinach waffle
We were then served waffles, blood for me and spinach for the vegetarian. The blood waffle was clearly a Pasi Petanen creation given his Finnish background. The blood waffles were... bloody good! They taste a bit like black pudding, except thinner and crispier. The spinach waffle was also enjoyable although the spinach flavour is quite subtle. The condiments were a house made sour cream and a lingonberry jam, and both were amazing. We enjoyed the slight smokiness in the sour cream and its thick creaminess. The lingonberry jam , however was the real winner. I never remember lingonberry tasting this good. Then again the only other lingonberry jam I have tried was from Ikea!

Shapgpile prawns & Asparagus, poppy seeds
I had what is described to us as shagpile prawns. This was a deep fried prawn coated in finely grated yam. The end result was an extremely crispy, flaky and satisfying deep fried prawn; kind of like a tempura prawn.

My wife had a single spear of asparagus that was coated in poppy seeds. The asparagus was crisp and the toasty poppy seeds were really quite delicious and worked well here.


Sourdough bread & marscapone butter
Here is what I think is one of the best breads and butters in a Sydney restaurant. A piping hot sourdough bread roll with a brilliant crust and great flavour. The marscapone butter is creamy and to die for! Unfortunately no seconds were offered (or fortunately as I could easily fill myself up on these). 
Course 1 (prepared by Sixpenny)

Peas, beans & sour cream
Peas, beans and sour cream is typical of first courses served at Sixpenny. It's looks incredibly fresh, like something picked straight out of a vegetable garden. The bright, vibrant greens in this dish are just stunning and immediately captivate me. It's also a light dish and the flavours are very clean.  Everything here just works well. The freshness of the vegetables, with the sweetness and the cleanness of the sugar snap jus, together with the soft, creamy curds of sour cream is simply beautiful (or beautifully simple). 

Course 2 (prepared by Pasi)

Veal tartare, smoked bone marrow & prawn
The veal tartare was an enjoyable course with some great flavour combinations. The veal meat was of high quality and tasted wonderfully fresh and had a lovely soft texture that melted in the mouth. The rich and creamy smoked bone marrow was probably my favourite element of this dish. The grilled onions and the dried prawn floss were also nice touches. However I feel that this dish could strongly benefit from having something crispy for some textural contrast with the tartare.       

Eggplant, smoked capsicum, togarashi
My wife had this eggplant course in place of veal tartare. She enjoyed this a lot and I could see why after I tasted a little bit of it. I actually thought this was a stronger dish than my veal tartare. The eggplant was just divine with its soft, creamy texture. On top of the eggplant was a layer of smoked capsicum, togarashi (Japanese chilli peppers), puffed rice and sesame seeds. The spices in this dish were quite enjoyable and the the puffed rice provided that crispy texture that I was craving for in my veal tartare course.

Course 3 (prepared by Sixpenny)

Lightly steamed blue eye, toasted rye butter, spinach
My course 3 is a steamed blue eye that has been painted with a spinach and watercress puree and topped with toasted rye butter and a single deep fried sweet potato leaf. The blue eye was quite well cooked as the flesh was soft and moist. But the rye butter was a real standout in this dish and tasted unbelievably good. It was rich, buttery, nutty and tasted a lot like a caramel. One word of warning, the rye butter is highly addictive :)
Artichoke, toasted rye butter, spinach
Instead of the fish, my wife got a roasted artichoke and lettuce. Again, the rye butter really shines through here and tastes great with pretty much anything.  

Course 4 (prepared by Pasi)

Pear, turnip, onion, horseradish
My wife's last savoury course was a grilled pear, topped with slices of turnip and a whole heap of grated horseradish and sitting on top of a bed of onion puree. She thought that this dish was another winner. There were enough savoury elements here to prevent it from looking too much like a dessert. The cooked pear was still nice and crisp and not too soft. The pear was cooked with bay leaves and had some nice caramelised flavours. The horseradish gives the dish a bit of punch, which lifted this dish, and worked surprisingly well with pear. Both my wife and I agreed that we would like to see fruit used more prominently in savoury courses in Australian restaurants as we had seen in some top end restaurants in Europe.

Photato is Pasi Petanen's fun, contemporary take on one of my favourite traditional Vietnamese dishes, beef pho. I was impressed by pretty much everything here: the concept, the creativity, the presentation and of course the amazing flavours! This was my favourite course of the meal.

Potato noodles and lightly seared wagyu beef
Blanketing the plate is a very thin slice of Darling Downs wagyu beef (marble score 9+) that appears to be raw. However, the beef has been lightly seared on one side (for 5 seconds according to our waiter). The flavour of this beef was just amazing! Beautiful meaty, charred flavours with meat that just melts in the mouth, what more can one ask for!

Underneath the wagyu blanket are potato noodles that have been cooked in garlic butter. I loved, loved, (did I say, loved) these noodles! The noodles were thin and reminiscent of vermicelli in appearance. These noodles had a lovely crisp texture and were insanely addictive. 

This dish also came with a number of enjoyable accompaniments: crispy fried garlic chips; strands of enoki mushrooms; watercress leaves; grated horseradish; and a wedge of grilled lemon for an intense hit of citrus.

Course 5 (prepared by Sixpenny)

Whipped quandong jelly, lemon myrtle, frozen ricotta
Quandong is a fruit that I have never seen before much less try. It is a native stone fruit found in the dry Australian outback and has a flavour profile similar to apricot or peach. This was a light, refreshing dessert with components that go together nicely (having these on their own is a bit weird, so definitely need to have everything together). The whipped quandong jelly was like a light and airy mousse. The powdery frozen ricotta was creamy and just evaporated in the mouth. My favourite component of the dish was the lemon myrtle butter, which had some lovely citrus and floral notes.

Course 6 (prepared by Pasi)

Rye, camomile, white chocolate
Pasi's dessert was certainly different but it really worked. The camomile ice cream was a winner with its smooth creaminess and subtle hit of camomile. Underneath the milky foam was a mousse made from rye and bits of rye cookie dough. We both really enjoyed these chewy cookie dough bits and the malty flavour of the rye. The dessert was finished off with some shaved white chocolate.        

Dessert snacks
Another Sixpenny signature is the serving of dessert snacks at the conclusion of the tasting menu. The first dessert snack brought to our table was... 

Malt floss
... malt floss. This was a fun little snack that brought me back to my childhood carnival favourite sweet, cotton candy. Basically it tasted like Milo in the form of spun sugar, so it was yum!

Native ginger apples & rye macarons
Our last snacks were native ginger apples and rye macarons. The rye macarons were nothing like what you would expect from a macaron. Instead of being soft and slightly chewy, the rye macarons were rock hard, which I personally wasn't a fan of. My wife didn't mind these though. I liked the native ginger apples though. Nice crisp apple coated in sugar and ginger with a good balance of sweetness and tartness. 

This was another impressive meal at Sixpenny. I am a big fan of the Sixpenny & Co. concept as I love it when chefs collaborate to create awesome menus like this one (for another great menu created by 2 other chefs, Alessandro Pavoni of Ormeggio and James Viles of Biota, click here). I am sure I will be back at Sixpenny in the future as I will probably find another excuse to make another booking here (for Sixpenny & Co. or otherwise).
Highlight: Photato was an amazing dish that really got me excited!
Lowlight:Nothing really as I pretty much enjoyed everything. The only thing I didn't like was the rye macaron and that was just me not liking its texture.
Overall: Three top Sydney chefs in Daniel Puskas, James Parry and Pasi Petanen cooking for you... can't ask for much more really! This meal gave me a glimpse of some of the great things Pasi Petatnen is doing at Cafe Paci. Guess I need to book a table at Cafe Paci soon before their lease up. 8.5/10 (Excellent)


Address: 83 Percival Road, Stanmore, NSW 2048
Contact no: 02 9572 6666

Cafe Paci
Address: Level 1, 95 Riley St, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Contact no: 02 9368 7000

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