Friday, June 27, 2008

Bentley Restaurant

Originally uploaded by Suzi Edwards
I had a not bad three course meal at Bentley Bar and Restaurant in Surry Hills recently. Unfortunately it was part of an eight course tasting menu, so I left feeling financially mugged and gastronomically frustrated.

Do I not like fine dining anymore? I’m really starting to wonder if my travels to eat in all of the temples of avant-garde cuisine were the mere folly of youth. Did I let my brain get in the way of my taste buds? Did I really enjoy all that molecularly modified food? Am I having some sort of gastronomic mid-life crisis?

I can’t actually remember the last time I left a fine-dining restaurant ecstatically happy. Tetsuyas? White truffle ice cream tastes of bad breath.. Hibiscus? Nice sausage roll.There are more, but I can’t actually remember any of the meals without going to Flickr and that’s part of the problem.

What I can remember are the roast chicken with bread sauce at Glebe Point Diner in Sydney. The locally caught mussels wrapped in home reared and cured lardo at the Sportsman in Seasalter. Neither of these are fine-dining (although the Sportsman does have a Michelin star) but both of these punch far above their weight in terms of their deliciousness, despite their lack of pomp and circumstance.

So why did I dislike Bentley so much and why I am writing about it, given I said that this blog was here to celebrate the good? Because sometimes you have to call people out when they are serving bad food. So here’s the new rule from the fabulous life of Binky Silhouette. I’m not just telling you about the good stuff anymore.

But I can’t resist some positivity. There was some good to be found here. The amuses bouches were unusual and delicious. I know I’m a patè whore, but serving jerusalem artichoke soup with a schmear of chicken liver patè at the bottom was a good idea, and one I will be stealing at home. The roasted duck breast with kohl rabi and black fungus was earthy and rich and showcased a nice piece of duck. The white chocolate and mandarin fizz with mandarin ice cream was a beautifully balanced desert, albeit with elements I first saw at WD-50 about five years ago. You can’t fault someone from re-using a good idea.

However, serving pork with salmon roe is not a very good idea. There’s a reason why pork and fish are generally kept apart. You can’t take a pork cheek, an unctuous, fatty piece of meat at the best of times and contrast it with the…unctuous, fatty, fishy richness of some salmon roe. You then can’t serve it with some smoked salmon and beetroot. Especially when the smoked salmon is inside an ersatz ravoli that appears to made out of purple-tinged polystyrene.

I’m going to stop here. I’ll let the Flickr set tell you the rest.

Bentley Bar and Restaurant is at 320 Crown Street. You don’t need the number. You won’t be going.

Glebe Point Diner is at 407 Glebe Point Road. You can make a reservation for one of their two dinner sittings on (02) 9660 2646.

I'll tell you more about the Sportsman very soon.

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