Review: Quay

The no. 48 Restaurant in the world and no. 2 in Australia (as of 2013 in the World’s 50 Best Rest.). My trip to Sydney was mostly for this restaurant as I wanted to compare it to Perth’s Restaurant Amuse. I’ve been a bit lazy getting this out so my memory is a bit fuzzy on certain dishes (maybe the not so good ones heh). There will be comparisons to Restaurant Amuse throughout.

Food: 8.75/10 [40%]

The dishes were definitely unique and different. Peter Gilmore (the head chef) has this thing with texture layers in his dishes. Many of them had a mix of soft, firm and crunchy textures in the dishes. My friends did not want to pay for the degustation but they were willing to share so we replicated the degustation course as best we could, plus a few extras on the side.

Entree/Palette Cleanser – Some sort of puree with a soy based sauce, was very nice and an excellent start.

First

Fragrant poached chicken, white radish, sea scallops, pea blossoms, smoked white eggplant cream, virgin black sesame oil – I don’t remember this being all that great. It was nice but nothing special.

Raw smoked Blackmore Wagyu, fresh Dory roe, horseradish juice, soured cream, milk skin – This one was a nice start to the night, I believe it was our favourite out of the three at the start.

Salad of albino and chioggia beetroots, preserved wild cherries, goat’s curd, scorched beet leaves, violets – This one was the most bland. I think it was because certain ingredients within the dish weren’t distributed well, causing an imbalance in flavours if you didn’t get the right mix.

It was at this point they brought out bread and butter, unfortunately the butter is not as amazing as Amuse.

Second

Squab and abalone, rare cultivated greens, fresh jersey milk curd, anchovy and seaweed broth - I think this was my least favourite of the second course trio. Not bad but not amazing either, just pleasant.

Gently braised quail, roasted chestnut cream, brioche porridge, truffle, chestnut floss - Our favourite of the three. This is the perfect example of Gilmore’s fascination with textures. The cream and porridge provides the soft textures, the quail is the firm yet tender texture and the chestnut adds a nice crunch when you eat. The flavours were well balanced and a pleasure to eat. One of the standout dishes of the night.

XO Sea – An interesting take on the Chinese dish using XO sauce. It was nice and definitely well done but I can’t help but feel that trying to improve a Chinese dish is futile. I don’t feel like you can take them to that next level and make them absolutely amazing.

Third

Roasted milk fed lamb, aromatic house made crème fraîche, Styrian pumpkin seed oil, salty ice plant, capers, nasturtiums - This was nice, though I don’t think its all that memorable. Solid.

Berkshire pig jowl with maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil – Our favourite of the three, I have to say, this is the first time I’ve experienced pork skin crackling better than what my parents can cook. It was so thin yet extremely crispy and easy to eat, not to mention the fat was well cooked and melted in your mouth. The only let down of this dish was that the pork meat was a bit stringy which i felt didn’t fit with the dish. The prunes were also a nice touch and added a nice fruity tang while not being overly sweet. The closest I’ve ever come to a restaurant outdoing my parents when it comes to pork textures.

Pasture raised veal, bitter chocolate black pudding, slow cooked wallaby tail, salsify, smoked bone marrow, chestnut mushrooms – I think that pork dish made me forget the others. This one was nice too and i liked the way they cooked the wallaby tail however, it was only good but not amazing.

Fourth

Cherries, chocolate, almonds, coconut - I have to say, this dish is either love or hate. The cherry reduction concentrate was extremely overpowering, even in small amounts. I have to say I was of the hate camp. The cherry was far too strong for my tastes and detracted from the rest of the dish, which also features numerous different textures.

Jersey cream, pedro ximenez, salted caramel, prune, confetti – My friends preferred this one over the snow egg (which was my favourite). I have to say though, it was really nice and showcased Gilmore’s love of textures yet again (Actually all the desserts did).

Jackfruit snow egg - What this restaurant is famous for. By no means the best dish of the night but I loved it because it used Jackfruit, which i never see anyone use in desserts (apart from Asian restaurants). The egg was extremely light and fluffy which complemented the crunchiness of the ice. The egg isn’t actually flavoured, its pretty much all egg white, its the ice which gives it the fruity tang.

All in all flavour-wise I did enjoy the experience. But there are a few issues moving on that make me feel like Amuse is the better restaurant overall.

Value: 7/10 [40%]

Yeah the price. $175 for the four course, which if I were to just get the four course and not share with anyone, I would think it’d be a rip off. $225 for the degustation. Some dishes were definitely standouts and deserve that sort of price tag but others were only on the ‘good’ or ‘nice’ side which cannot justify the cost. When I go to these sort of restaurants, I want my taste buds to be consistently amazed and tantalised, unfortunately not all of the dishes were like that. Oh and the sparkling water is not done inhouse so it is not free. Its the little things.

Service: 9.5/10 [15%]

Service is better at Amuse, hands down no contest. Its the little things that add up such as bringing things without any warrant (like they were mind readers!) and their explanations of the wait staff for the food were much better at Amuse while adding a little humour. Yes Quay’s service is top notch, no doubt about it but when you’re paying this kind of money, the little things start to pile on. I also noticed their umbrella/coat check service was much slower than Amuse’s. Little things…

Ambience: 10/10 [5%]

Views of the Harbour Bridge: Check
Views of the Opera House: Check
Romantic, dimly lit area: Check

It does trump Amuse in terms of view but you quickly forget about it as you dive into the food.

Overall: 8.225/10

I had an enjoyable night with my friends but if I had to pick which place I would rather go back to time and time again, the choice would always be Restaurant Amuse. Amuse is cheaper, better service, food is on par if not better. Ticks all the boxes and is still my favourite restaurant of all time.

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