Saturday, 27 September 2014

Gelato Messina Dessert Bar, Darlinghurst - 26 Sept 2014

Gelato Messina have just opened the Dessert Bar in the space which once housed the Creative Department. The Dessert Bar is essentially a DIY / "choose your own adventure" sundae bar, where you get to have a bit of fun and build your own sundae by choosing as many toppings as you want with your soft serve. 

My wife and I arrived at the Dessert Bar at 5:30pm for some pre-dinner sundaes. Dessert before dinner may seem odd to some but we were able to beat the queues by coming this early (or maybe the crowds have all migrated to Cow and Moon now following their win at the Gelato World Tour). In any case, you will only ever see us at The Cross in broad daylight.       

The menu board
Building your own sundae may be only a 3-step process, but one is bombarded with choice when you enter the Dessert Bar.  Here's how you create your own sundae:

Step 1 choose your base: cup, cone (plain waffle or raspberry waffle) or carb (crepe, choux puff or doughnut). 
Step 2 choose your soft serve gelato: currently burnt vanilla, fanta sorbet or a swirl of both. 
Step 3 choose your toppings: currently includes hot fudges, choc top dip, foams, jellies, gels, creamies, bits and bobs and crunchy bits

There's a total of 23 different toppings at the moment and you can choose as many as you like for 80c each. My maths is probably a bit off, but that's 113,246,208 possible creations (please don't check :P)! The gelato flavours and the toppings will change every one or two months to keep us coming back for more.

All those toppings!

Donuts, choux puffs!


Suggested sundaes for the less creative / decisive
Or you can scrap what I've written above and choose one of the suggestive sundaes that have already been tried and tested by the Messina kitchen. In typical Messina fashion, all the sundaes have funny, punny names including trailer trash brunch, carni candi, pavlova-kona, honey I burnt the kids, choux-co late dreams, the nutty professor, I dough know and cup of life. After much indecisiveness (even from a menu of just 8), we decided to try Honey I Burnt the Kids and Carni Candy.    

Choc top time!

Carni Candy ($9.90)

I just couldn't resist editing some eyes in hehe :P
Check out the massive afro on the carni candy! The nostalgic carni candy evoked memories of some of my childhood favourite sweets like choc top, redskin, fanta, strawberries & cream, and fairy floss! 

The fairy floss was voluminous and cute, but not very practical to eat, so I had to take off its wig before I could bite into the carni candy. I found its helmet, I mean chocolate coating, to be a bit thick. The fanta sorbet was nice and tasted like fanta (duh!). Having the fanta and chocolate together was like a mouthful of jaffas.     

The best part of this sundae was definitely the redskin custard, which was piped inside of the waffle cone. I absolutely loved redskins growing up and the redskin custard had all the familiar raspberry flavour that I came to love as a kid. And the best thing with this redskin is that it doesn't get stuck to your teeth! Inside the waffle cone were also some strawberry and cream jellies.   

Inside the carni candy, kind of like a jaffa cone!

Honey I burnt the kids ($9.90)
The other sundae that we ordered was honey I burnt the kids, which consisted of burnt vanilla gelato, burnt honey mousse, smoked butter popcorn, and smoked chocolate fudge served in a cup. The flavour combinations in "honey I burnt the kids" were more conventional and we both preferred this sundae. There might sound like there are a lot of smoked / burnt things in here but the smokiness is not overpowering and works quite nicely. The burnt vanilla gelato had a smooth, creamy texture, like how all good soft serves should be. I would happily order this sundae again.

While I still think a cup of gelato from next door is more satisfying, the Dessert Bar offers something fun and different and is definitely worth checking out. Plus who wouldn't want redskin custard or fairy floss with their gelato?  

Gelato Messina Dessert Bar
Address: 243 Victoria St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Contact no: (02) 8354 1223

Gelato Messina on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Australian Truffle Season 2014

The jewel of cooking or the testicles of the earth?
Did you know that truffles are widely thought to be an aphrodisiac? Apparently the scent of truffles is extremely similar to the male pheromone of pigs and humans and Napoleon was known to have eaten truffles to increase his masculine potency. So guys, if you're trying to woo a lady, be a stud and eat lots of truffle, cos that's what Napoleon did LOL!  

I am not sure much success Napoleon had with the ladies but you have probably worked out by now that today's post is about all things truffle, that prized, mysterious, underground fungus whose flavour and aroma has capitvated foodies everywhere. The smell of a ripe truffle is just awesome, with its heady aroma perfuming an entire room when shaved onto food. And the intoxicating flavour! It's amazing and it's complex, kind of like trying to describe the flavour of a fine wine. 

Truffle butter by Duncan Garvey and Pepe Saya
Some people like the summer but my favourite time of the year (at least from a food perspective) is between mid June and early September, when Australian black truffles are in season. One of my favourite snacks at home this winter has been truffle butter on toast. This truffle butter is produced by Duncan Garvey, the first person to grow truffles in Australia in the early 90s, and Pepe Saya, the makers of some of the best cultured butter in Australia. When you have two top artisan producers join forces, you know the result is going to be extraordinary. One of the best way to enjoy truffles unadulterated!  

Sydneysiders had no shortage of options to try truffles at restaurants too with a number of them offering dishes showcasing truffles. Some restaurants even created entire menus devoted to the truffle (like Ormeggio's 3-course truffle menu for $120 or Rockpool's annual 7-course truffle degustation for $260, which I have yet to try but maybe one day!). It was impossible for me to try all of these but with my insatiable appetite for truffles, I did my best. Although I feel very satisfied now, I am now much poorer for it. 

Now that the winter truffle season has pretty much drawn to a close, I would like to share my favourite truffle dishes for 2014. 

1. Quail, broken egg yolk, chestnuts, roast celeriac puree, mushrooms, Perigord black truffle (Est.)

My favourite dish this winter was Est's quail dish with chestnut, mushroom, egg yolk and Perigord black truffles from Manjimup, Western Australia.  This dish was my main course in a 2 course lunch at Est. for $69 (+$15 for each course with fresh truffles shaved over the top). 

The pan fried quail breast was cooked to perfection, with moist, succulent meat and a slightly pink centre. The quail jus was intense and packed a punch. The chestnut and celariac puree was amazing! It was sweet, smooth and so delicious! And the rich, runny egg yolk, which came seasoned with sea salt flakes and truffle shavings, brought the whole dish together. Every element in this dish accentuated the flavour of the truffle. This was truly an amazing dish, the kind of cooking that I am so used to seeing from the Est. kitchen! 

If the quail didn't make me happy enough already, the kitchen also sent out a complimentary mashed potato with HEAPS of shaved truffle on top! The mash was smooth, creamy and buttery,  in other words evil deliciousness! But it is these things that make mashed potato and truffles best friends. My palate was filled with intense truffle flavour, each spoonful was a foodgasmic moment. I may not have finised the mash, but you can be sure there was not a trace of truffle left.

2. Risotto with fresh black Australian Perigord truffle and pecorino (Ormeggio)

Est's quail dish may have been my favourite dish on this list, but Ormeggio's risotto with fresh black truffle from Tasmania and pecorino was my favourite truffle dish (if that makes sense). This dish was the main course of Ormeggio's 3 course truffle menu ($120). This truffle menu was the first truffle menu I tried this season and it was the best and most memorable, so don't be surprised to find a few dishes from Ormeggio in this list.  

This dish was simple, but that's what makes this risotto such an incredible truffle dish. Nothing to get in the way, just pure, unadulterated truffle bliss! The smell of the truffle was pungent and had me swooning as the waiter placed this dish in front of me. The risotto, cooked delightfully al dente, was creamy, which brought out the earthy, heady flavour of the truffle. The flavour of the truffle just kept getting better as my mouth became coated with the creamy risotto. This is a dish that you definitely don't want to be drinking any water with if you want to savour the truffle flavour longer!

3. Black truffle omelette (Rockpool Bar and Grill)

This omelette from Rockpool Bar and Grill ($45) is the best omelette I have eaten in my life, period! There was so much truffle flavour in this dish. The eggs were infused with black truffle (from Manjimup) before cooking. The omelette was then served with more shaved truffle over the top and soft, fluffy brioche bread was spread with truffle butter. The omelette was soft and gooey, just the way I like my omelettes, and nicely seasoned with salt and pepper.

4. Monte bianco of chestnuts, fresh black Australian Perigord truffle (Ormeggio)

Looking like a snowy mountain, this was the dessert course in Ormeggio's truffle menu. There were milk crisps, a chestnut semifreddo, whipped cream, hazelnuts and shaved truffle (from Tasmania). I was surprised by how well truffles worked in this dessert and how the truffles brought out the flavours of the other elements in this dish, especially the chestnuts. This was a dessert that was on the "less sweet side", with clever use of savoury elements.

5. Carnaroli risotto, nettles, mushrooms, Perigord black truffles (Osteria di Russo & Russo)

This luscious, green Carnaroli risotto with nettles, mushrooms with Perigord black truffles (from Manimup) was part of the 6 course chef's menu for $69 (+ $7.50 truffle surcharge per person) at the recently minted one-hat restaurant Osteria di Russo & Russo.

This is the first dish in my list where the chef came out of the kitchen to shave the truffles over the dish at the table. One of my favourite parts of a truffle experience (besides the eating obviously) is watching truffles rain on food and then getting a good whiff of the truffle aroma. Jason Saxby has worked for Alessandro Pavoni of Ormeggio (where I think you will find the best risotto in Sydney) in the past, so you know a risotto coming out of Jason's kitchen is going to be fantastic. I was in heaven with each spoonful of this rich, creamy risotto with its al dente grains of rice (maybe a touch too al dente, a minor technicality), which carried the intoxicating earthy flavours and umami of the truffle.

=6. Veal battuta, eshallots, pinenuts, anchovy oil, fresh black Australian Perigord truffle (Ormeggio)

Coming in at equal sixth are the entrees from the Ormeggio truffle menu. Veal battuta is a dish I have had before at Ormeggio. It was fantastic before and since it was covered in a blanket of Tasmanian black truffles this time, it goes without saying that it was again incredible. The raw veal meat, pinenuts, anchovy oil, croutons, tuna mayo and truffles was a beautiful harmony of flavours.     

=6. Pumpkin gnocchi, mushroom, chestnut, parmesan consomme, fresh black Australian Perigord truffle (Ormeggio)

The pumpkin gnocchi, Tasmanian black truffles, mushroom, chestnuts, crispy sage leaves and parmesan consomme was my wife's entree in the Ormeggio truffle menu. The gnocchi were soft, fluffy and slippery nuggets of sweet pumpkin that were nicely contrasted with the sharpness of the parmsan consomme. This was another dish that would have still been great without the truffle, but truffle makes most things in life better, right?       

7. Tagliolini with black truffle and parmesan (Balla)

The taglioni with black truffle and parmesan was my favourite course in Balla's 4-course truffle menu ($120), a menu which I found to be a bit hit and miss.  

This was another simple, yet delicious truffle dish. The taglioni pasta was fantastic and cooked al dente. The sharp, creamy parmesan sauce and black truffle combination is always a winner and is no different here. I detected some truffle oil in this dish, but not too much to overpower the flavour of the fresh truffles.
The black truffles from the Southern Highlands were chosen for their similarity to Italian summer truffle. They were dark on the outside, but possessed a pale, hazel coloured centre. The flavour of these truffles were different to the French Perigord variety more commonly found in Australian restaurants so I was glad I was able to try this variety; they had a lighter, sweeter flavour.   

8. Black truffle fried rice (Mr Wong)

Mr Wong's truffle fried rice ($34) is like a Chinese version of black truffle risotto. The truffle to fried rice ratio was enough to make anyone's jaw drop. And there's no mistaking the smelly, intoxicating aroma and flavour of black truffle, which Mr Wong sources from Manjimup, WA. This was a very simple fried rice with egg, shiitake mushrooms, peas, butter and seasoned with salt and pepper to not overpower the truffle.   

This was the
best fried rice I have had for some time. But I have to say I prefer black truffle risottos due to its richness and creaminess, which makes it better at bringing out the awesomeness of truffles.

9. Vanilla and black truffle semifreddo (Balla)

This vanilla semi freddo was the dessert course in Balla's truffle menu and was the only dish other than the taglioni that I truly enjoyed at Balla. The main issue I found with this menu was the use of different varieties of truffle which resulted in truffles of varying quality being used throughout the menu. In the other 2 courses, the truffle flavour was muted and almost non-existent.   
Fortunately the night at Balla ended on a good note  with this vanilla semi freddo, which was packed with loads of truffle flavour.  The semi freddo was studded with crushed hazelnuts, which went well with the truffle. The truffle honey had quite a strong petroleum flavour, similar to truffle oil. And there were a couple of slices of poached pear on the plate, which I found to be a bit superfluous. 

10. Chinese egg custard, shiitake, fungus, yellow needle flower, Chinese fried bread and Perigord black truffle (Devon Cafe)

And rounding out my top ten is Devon cafe's Chinese steamed egg custard with black truffles from Manjimup ($29). Whilst the star of the show was definitely the aromatic and flavourful truffle, the Chinese steamed egg custard was also wonderful. The egg custard was wobbly and silky smooth. The egg custard contained shiitake mushrooms, fungus, yellow needle flowers and goji berries. There were also crispy batons of Chinese fried bread, but I ended up eating these on their own as they couldn't really be dipped into the egg custard. I would have preferred if truffle oil was left in the pantry rather than being used in this dish. But otherwise Devon's egg custard was a very enjoyable dish. 

Honourable mention: Truffle and cheddar brioche toasted sandwich (Rockpool)
Let it rain.... truffles!

If I had to give a prize for most aromatic, best smelling truffle it would have to go to this truffle and cheddar brioche toasted sandwich from Rockpool's bar menu ($24). The smell was so intense and so good that I wish the above pictures were "scratch and sniff" so I could relive that moment when I smelt that truffle.

The truffles were also shaved in front of me, adding to the theatre. And they shaved ALOT of it too. But unfortunately the flavour of the truffle itself was quite mild. Oh well, at least the aroma was amazing.

So there you have it, that was my truffle season for 2014. Truffles, your time may be up for this year but we shall meet again next year :) 

Address: Level G, Harbourside, The Star/80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Contact no: (02) 9657 9129

Balla on Urbanspoon 

Devon Cafe
Address: 76 Devonshire St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Contact no: (02) 9211 8777

Devon Cafe on Urbanspoon 

Address: Level 1, Establishment/252 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact no: (02) 9240 3000

Est. on Urbanspoon 

Mr Wong
Address: 3 Bridge Ln, Sydney NSW 2000 
Contact no: (02) 9240 3000

Mr Wong on Urbanspoon 

Ormeggio at the Spit
Address: Spit Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
Contact no: (02) 9969 4088

Ormeggio at the Spit on Urbanspoon 

Osteria di Russo & Russo
Address: 158 Enmore Rd, Enmore NSW 2042
Contact no: (02) 8068 5202

Osteria di Russo & Russo on Urbanspoon

Address: 11 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000 
Contact no: (02) 9252 1888

Rockpool on Urbanspoon

Rockpool Bar and Grill
Address: 66 Hunter St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact no: (02) 8078 1900

Rockpool Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Guillaume, Paddington - 12 September 2014

Guillaume Brahimi may have been unceremoniously dumped from his old Bennelong site in the Opera House in December last year in favour of more casual dining, Guillaume has now reopened in the Eastern Suburbs. Ironically the Opera House trust is still going through a tender process to fill the space vacated by Guillaume. Opera House's loss is Paddington's gain.

Guillaume is housed in a terrace that was once Darcy's, an Italian institution for 40 years
Unfortunately I never got the chance to eat at Guillaume's restaurant in Bennelong.  A table during their final hurrah was the hottest ticket in town so my last ditch attempt to secure a reservation of course failed. Not wanting to miss out again, I called the new Guillaume on the afternoon reservations became available (in early July), only to be told the earliest Friday night booking was 5 weeks after the opening day (which I obviously accepted).

The beautiful dining room on the ground level. There's more dining space upstairs.
Guillaume is said to have found inspiration for his new restaurant from his visit to London-based Aussie Brett Graham's restaurant, The Ledbury, last year. The Ledbury is a 2 Michelin star restaurant serving sublime food in a light, elegant and relaxed dining space in the posh suburb of Notting Hill. I was lucky enough to be able to meet Brett after my meal at The Ledbury in October last year and he mentioned to me that Guillaume had dropped by just the week before. It turns out that this was the visit that inspired Guillaume to create his own take of Ledbury in the equally wealthy suburb of Paddington!

Some of the Matisse artworks on display
The food at Guillaume is very French (obviously) and classical (if you want creative, adventurous "contemporary" cooking, you are looking in the wrong place). There's an a la carte menu (one course $48; two courses $75; four courses for $135) and an 8 course degustation menu for $175. We opted for the degustation menu and with advance notice, an 8 course vegetarian menu was prepared for my wife.

Iggy's bread and Myrtleford butter
To start the meal we were served complimentary sourdough rolls from Eastern suburbs favourite bread maker, Iggy's and cultured butter from Myrtleford

Amuse bouche
Amuse bouche - spanner crab, avocado mousse, finger lime, coriander & Crystal Bay prawn
For amuse bouche (served with caviar spoons of course), I was served a bowl of hand-picked spanner crab, with avocado mousse, pearls of finger lime and coriander arrives. The spanner crab was very sweet and the avocado mousse was to die for! Little bursts of acidity from the finger lime round out this refreshing, amazing little number. The other amuse was a lightly poached Crystal Bay prawn served with lime and wrapped in basil leaves.

Vego amuse bouche - Fennel, truffle, avocado mousse & asparagus, truffle
My wife's amuse bouche was fennel, avocado mousse and studs of black truffle The other amuse was asparagus with black truffle. As the winter black truffle season is practically over now, there was not as much black truffles on display tonight compared to when the restaurant opened in early August. As such the truffle flavour was mild. 

1st course
Yellowfin tuna, basil, soy, mustard seed
My first course was Guillaume's signature dish from his first restaurant, Pond: a lightly seared basil-infused yellow fin tuna wrapped with basil leaves. The balance of sweetness and peppery notes of the basil, with the subtle heat from the mustard seed and the umami of light soy went well with the beautiful sashimi grade tuna. This was a very clean and fresh dish, making it an ideal way to start the degustation.

Baby vegetables, carrot, turnip, beetroot
My wife's first course was a simple salad of assorted baby vegetables including carrots, turnips, kale, beans and red vein sorrel. Around the plate were alternating drops of beetroot and onion puree.  

2nd course
Royale of globe artichoke, truffle, mud crab, barigoule vinaigrette
Royale is another Guillaume classic and is a luxe custard of globe artichoke served at room temperature; it was smooth, creamy, flavoursome and flawless in its execution. The fine dice of little carrots and celery cubes provided a fantastic textural contrast to the creamy custard. Sitting on top of the royale were strands of sweet and delicate mud crab. The royale was served with a wonderful barigoule vinaigrette that had the right amount of acidity to balance the dish. This course turned out to be one of my favourites of the night.

Royale of globe artichoke, truffle, barigoule vinaigrette
My wife's dish was essentially mine with the mud crab substituted for globe artichoke.

Bonus course
Scallop, Jerusalem artichoke, truffle, chicken jus
The kitchen sent out an extra treat in the form of a pan seared scallop with Jerusalem artichokes, truffle and chicken jus. The plump scallop was cooked to perfection: sweet, translucent in the middle with a beautiful tan on top.

Jerusalem artichoke, truffle, beurre noisette
My wife's bonus course was also a delight. A jerusalem artichoke was beautifully caramelised and reminded us of a delicious roasted potato. The artichoke was served with a nutty beurre noissete and truffle.

3rd course
Marron, pork cheek, broad beans, cauliflower, sea spray
The butter poached marron was divine: sweet, gently cooked flesh with a nice springy texture (served with its pincher, how cute!). The marron was paired rather surprisingly with braised pork cheeks, which just melted in the mouth. The cauliflower puree was ridiculous - the smoothest, creamiest and one of the best purees I've seen! A lovely sauce of anchovies, rosemary, olive oil and lemon finished off the dish. This was an amazing course and one of my favourites of the night (hint, order this if you go the a la carte menu).

Asparagus, hens egg, potato
My wife's 3rd course consisted of steamed batons of asparagus with a hens egg and potato. The asparagus and warm, gooey egg yolk combo is a no brainer and a favourite in our household. In place of crusty sourdough, there was a wafer- thin potato crisp. And that foamy beurre blanc sauce was just pure buttery decadence! My wife was in raptures eating this dish and I was jealous watching her demolish this plate of food.

4th course
Peas & broad beans, tortellini, creme fraiche, tarragon
Both my wife and I then had the pea and broad bean tortellini. The pasta was some of the best I've tried in Sydney: silky, slippery parcels that give Ormeggio a run for its money for best pasta. And that tarragon beurre blanc sauce was liquid gold: rich and incredibly moreish. The combination of that buttery sauce with the sweet green pea and broad bean creme fraiche filling was just heavenly.

5th course
Patagonian toothfish, globe artichoke, spinach, lemon, oyster
The last of the seafood courses was a pan fried fillet of Patagonian toothfish from Antarctic waters. Toothfish is a fairly recent addition to menus of Sydney restaurants so I haven't had a lot of it in the past. The toothfish was a moist, firm fleshed fish with an almost buttery texture. The dish was given an extra touch of luxe with little pearls of caviar set atop the fish to accentuate the toothfish. The toothfish sat on a bed of spinach, and was served with a lightly pickled globe artichoke heart and finished with an amazing oyster and chive beurre blanc sauce.

Heirloom carrot, ginger, coriander, pommes allumettes
Heirloom carrots were prepared 3 ways: cooked, fresh thin shavings and pureed. The star of this course was definitely the amazing carrot and ginger puree! It was sweet, smooth and creamy. The ginger brought the puree to a whole new level, adding tanginess, spiciness and warmth. The dish also came with a deep fried nest of crispy matchstick potatoes (pommes allumettes) and was finished with a coriander beurre blanc sauce.          

6th course
Robbins Island full blood wagyu, shimeji mushrooms, baby spinach, merlot sauce & Paris mash
My final savoury dish may follow the classic "meat and three veg" formula,  but why would I want anything else with flavours like this. The wagyu beef from Robbins Island in Tasmania was of supreme quality and cooked to perfection: full of flavour, tender with a wonderfully rare pink centre. The merlot sauce has stood the test of time at Bennelong and continues to be a brilliant accompaniment to beef. The buttery baby spinach and shimeji mushrooms is an incredibly delicious side of veg that I would happily eat on its own. And there was a globe of caramelised shallot, which added sweetness and extra depth of flavour to the dish.

The final savoury course is also served with Guillaume's signature Paris mash, which the waiter dollops onto our plate at the table. This Paris mash was incredible and worth the price of admission alone: so unbelievably smooth, creamy and just pure evil (with a ratio of 4 potatoes to 250 grams of butter)! I was sad that the waiter didn't leave the entire bowl on our table. Perhaps they were looking out for my waistline...      

Zucchini risotto, baby leek, parmesan & Paris mash
My wife's final savoury course was a zucchini risotto with baby leeks and parmesan. The risotto was well cooked with each grain of rice being delightfully al dente. The parmesan was sharp and had an excellent flavour. In terms of the progression of the vegetarian menu, my wife felt that it might have been better if this dish came earlier as this course was not as rich or creamy as some of the earlier courses. This risotto was also drier than other risottos we've had.

The risotto too was served with a dollop of Paris mash. Nothing wrong with some carb on carb action!       

Mixed salad
After we finished our savoury courses, a waitress served us some mixed salad of fresh, crisp leaves dressed with a zingy shallot vinaigrette to cleanse the palate. Serving salad afterwards is not something that I have seen before, but I could do with the extra greens.   

Cheese course
Cheese course (extra $25)
In my quest to become a more informed foodie, I have started to take more of an interest in different types of cheese (my next goal is to develop an appreciation for wine). Guillaume's cheese "block" consists of a Holy Goat La Luna, a 12 month aged Pyengana cheddar, a Roquefort blue cheese and a Milawa Gold washed rind. I enjoyed all the cheeses but not the Roquefort as I cannot stand blue cheeses. My wife, however, enjoys pungent blue cheeses, so she wasn't complaining about having to finish the entire slab. The cheeses were served with raisins, slices of green apple, crisps and Iggy's bread.

7th course
Blood orange sorbet
Blood orange sorbet served with its zest was an excellent palate cleanser; it was exactly like taking a bite out of the actual fruit. So refreshing and so delicious! And it came with a cute little heart-shaped spoon rest. 

8th course
Valrhona chocolate souffle, cherry ripple ice cream
For the final dessert course, we were given a choice between creme brulee, which was listed on the printed menu, or the chocolate souffle, a Guillaume signature from Bennelong. Despite being quite full by this stage, we decided to choose one of each, including the more substantial chocolate souffle in the name of research. Plus who could say no to Valrhona chocolate!

The chocolate souffle was a pretty sight: tall and risen perfectly. Then our waitress dropped a spoon of cherry ripple ice cream, which melted into the warm souffle, creating the perfect comfort dessert. The souffle had a nice crust and a moist, light as air interior that just evaporated in the mouth. For an extra hit of chocolate, melted chocolate coated the sides of the pan. But this dessert was quite large and could easily be shared between 2, so it does become quite rich towards the end.

Vanilla bean crème brulee, green apple, doughnut
For a lighter finish to the meal, go for the crème brulee. The crème brulee  was amazing, so smooth and full of vanilla beans; one of the best crème brulees i have ever tried! The tartness of the green apple sorbet, batons of fresh green apple and dabs of lime gel cut through the richness of the crème brulee. There's also a cute little doughnut ball for something different. The crème brulee was my preferred dessert and made for a fitting end to a superb degustation menu.

Petit fours?
Guillaume doesn't do petit fours; they do petit eights! We enjoyed each of these bite sized treats. There was a vanilla macaron, an opera cake, a lemon tart, a blackcurrant jelly, a pistachio macaron, a chocolate tart, a caramel fudge and an orange jelly

Fresh mint tea to aid with digestion. I needed it!
As we sipped on tea, trying to recover from the food coma we had just slipped into, Guillaume emerged from the kitchen and made his way around the dining room to speak with customers that were still around at the end of the night. Guillaume was gracious in our praise for the meal he and his team had just prepared for us. I suggested that we'd throw a bit of a challenge to a Frenchman with my wife's vegetarian diet, to which Guillaume responded that the he had fun putting the vegetarian degustation menu together and that vegetables should always be an important part of any menu.

We just had to get a pic with Guillaume! #fanboy #fangirl
My meal at the new Guillaume was truly incredible, one of my best meals for quite some time! In my opinion, you will find some of the best cooking in Sydney at this restaurant; the sort of cooking you might find at Michelin starred restaurants in Europe.

I love classical cooking. I actually find it refreshing to have classical food at a fine dining restaurant this exceptional with all the "contemporary" cuisine out there. These types of establishments seem to be a rarity in Sydney outside of Guillaume, Tetsuya's and est.

What I love about Guillaume is the overall simplicity of the food with each dish focusing on 3 or so elements, the painstaking attention to detail in its cooking and flavour combinations that quite simply just hit the mark time and time again. The produce was exceptional as you'd expect from a restaurant of this calibre, but it was the execution of the finishing touches like those sublime sauces and purees (and that little bit of extra butter) that really stood out for me. This is a meal that I will remember for a long time and I would rate Guillaume as one of my favourite fine dining experiences in Sydney.

Highlight: Every dish was exceptional, with the marron, the royale and the creme brulee being a few of the highlights.
Lowlight: Roll me out of the restaurant, such was the amount of amazing food I consumed in this meal!
Overall: Guillaume is Sydney's own version of The Ledbury, an outstanding restaurant serving excellent food in a relaxed and elegant dining space with service that is attentive yet not overbearing. 9/10 (Outstanding)     

Address: 92 Hargrave St Paddington, NSW
Contact no: 02 9302 5222

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