Saturday, 7 December 2013

Peter's Best at Est. - 25 Nov 2013


I’m back again at est., that fancy fine dining restaurant located on level 1 of Merivale’s poshy Establishment, for dinner to try the special Peter’s Best at est. menu. Executive chef at est., Peter Doyle, is a legend, widely considered one of the founding fathers of 'Modern Australian' cuisine  and one of my favourite Sydney chefs. The Peter’s Best at Est menu was offered only for only 3 weeks this November so I knew I had to secure a reservation to try this limited time menu.

Tasting menu that I took home, with Peter Doyle's signature
The Peter's best at est. menu marks chef Doyle's 10 years at est. and is essentially a collection of his greatest hits during his illustrious 40+ year career. The tasting menu consisted of 7 courses, with the year in which the dish was originally inspired listed on the menu along with some commentary on each course from chef Doyle. So lets step back in time and see what I thought of Peter's best.      

Bread

Soy and linseed bread, butter
For bread, there was a choice of soy linseed, white sourdough or whole wheat miche. As the bread is supplied by Sonoma Bakery at Merivale venues, it was obviously of good quality. My favourite was the soy linseed; I particularly enjoyed the flavour and texture that the whole soybeans and linseeds added. The wait staff topped up my bread throughout the evening so I was able to try all three breads.

Course one  

Gazpacho consomme, Italian buffalo mozzarella, green marmande tomato (2004)
The gazpacho consomme was a lovely, refreshing first course. The consomme was concentrated with loads of pleasant tomato flavour and there were little cubes of cucumber and tomato floating in the consomme to add even more freshness to the course. This course also came with a little dish of buffalo mozarrella and more tomatoes, drizzled with a basil infused olive oil. These are classic flavour combinations that you can't go wrong with.          

Course two

Duck foie gras, asparagus, fennel, baby beans, truffle vinaigrette (2000)
This was an impressive salad with some amazing flavours and textures. The slab of duck foie gras was pure indulgence and was beautifully rich and creamy. The foie gras was sitting on top of a thin crispy sourdough. The foie gras was well balanced by the truffle vinaigrette, which had the right level of acidity to cut through the fattiness of the foie gras, and the beautifully fresh herb salad. The salad contained a mix of shaved fennel, mache, kombubaby beans and asparagus spears, which were perfectly cooked, and peanuts.    

Course three
 
Raviolo of prawn, crab boudin, snow peas, ginger, soy, coriander (1989)
The raviolo is an oldie, from 1989, but a goodie. This was one of my favourite courses of the night. This raviolo pasta is one of the better pastas I have had at any restaurant. The texture was just about perfect: it was like a big, slippery wonton wrapper that was so silky and had a heavenly mouth-feel. Wrapped inside was a perfectly cooked and delicious prawn. The crab boudin was to die for. It was so smooth and the sweet and delicate crab flavour was just a delight to eat. And all this was swimming in an amazing crab emulsion, which had a great balance of sweetness and acidity from white wine.   

Course four

John Dory, scallop, spinach, Jacqueline sauce (2000)
Yet another amazing seafood course that looked visually stunning and tasted great. Sitting on top is a beautifully cooked scallop, which was nicely seared on the outside and translucent and tender on the inside. The grilled John Dory had amazing flavour but I would have preferred the flesh to be slightly more moist (this was the only technical flaw of the night, if you could even call it that!). I was happy to overlook this because the Jacqueline sauce was liquid gold. So delicious! It was an emulsion of carrot juice, Sauternes, a French sweet wine and butter. This is the type of sauce that I would use a piece of sourdough to mop up, which I happily did of course!       

Course five

Juniper crusted venison, cherries, beetroot, black pudding, cocoa paper (1988)
I believe this dish a regular on the est. menu and I can see myself ordering this one again as I just loved it. The flavour combinations in this dish are just genius and just work so beautifully together. The saddle of venison was cooked to perfection, pink in the centre and wonderfully tender and delicious. Juniper and game meat is a classic combination that always seems to work. The slices of black pudding were rich and satisfying. The sweet tones from the cherry sauce, grapes and beetroots also work on harmony to cut through the strong game meat flavours and black pudding. I also thought the thin, crisp sheets of cocoa paper were a brilliant touch in this dish for both flavour and texture.   

Course six

Pineapple sorbet, yoghurt mousse, native violets (2009)
The first dessert was a pretty little palate cleanser before the arrival of the 'main event'. It was a wonderfully refreshing and enjoyable pineapple sorbet served with small chunks of pineapple, a smear of yoghurt, a thin and brittle layer of yoghurt, and a dusting of violet and cubes of violet jelly

Course seven

Mango dacquoise, coconut ice cream, lime tequila sorbet (1994)
The main event is yet another oldie yet a goodie, this time from 1994. It was just an amazing and enjoyable combination of a variety of zesty and tropical fruits. On top is a quenelle of lime tequila sorbet, which packed a solid hit of tequila but well balanced by the zing of lime, that was topped with passionfruit. Below the sorbet was fanned slices of mango, my favourite tropical fruit that I can never have too much of. The base of this dessert consisted of a brilliant coconut ice cream was bathed in a pool of lime juice. There were also some little 'turds' of crispy meringue and a thin tuile layer above the coconut ice cream for texture. I am definitely a fan of fruit based desserts and this is the type of dessert that I wish I could see more of in restaurants.
    
Petit fours

Petit fours
More petit fours
And to finish off a fantastic meal, I had some petit fours and tea. I found enough stomach space to have each of these bite sized treats and I enjoyed all of them. There was a coffee macaron, hazelnut shortbread, an olive oil jube, blood orange chocolate ganache, and a lemon cake. And for the road, there were some chocolates with est. written on them.   

It goes without saying that the Peter's best at est. menu was fantastic and that this was another thoroughly satisfying meal at est. This menu was classic Peter Doyle and a remainder why I love the food at est. so much. The food is uncomplicated, uses the best seasonal ingredients and is executed with precision that is usually found in French haute cuisine. It’s a bit unfortunate that est. is no longer a three-hatted restaurant. I suspect the knock against est. is that the food is classic and does not attempt to experiment too much (hence the label "meat and three veg" cooking which est. sometimes get tagged with). If you ask me, with food this good, why change what works, right? 

Verdict
Highlight: The prawn ravioli and crab boudin and mango dacquoise (when in season) are two cracking dishes from prior decades that I think would sit nicely on the est. menu today.
Lowlight: Peter’s 'Best at est.' menu is only offered for a limited time.
Overall: est. is one of Sydney’s finest. And Peter Doyle is one of Sydney’s best. So it is no surprise that Est. is one my favourites, as well as the suited crowd and couples celebrating special occasions. 8.5/10 (Excellent)

est. Restaurant



Address: Level 1, Establishment, 252 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact no: (02) 9240 3000
Website: http://merivale.com.au/est   

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