I thought a long time about where to take C, we've been to so many great places together and I wanted something good to impress him with. And so I decided that our destination would be Bentley Restaurant & Bar. It's a small place, cosy and with a nice atmosphere. C loves tasting menus so there wasn't much thought needed when it came to time to order. Two tasting menus, one with the matching wines for C.
I must confess, it's been so long that I have probably forgotten some of the small details but I'll do my best...
First up as always is the bread - crusty on the outside with nice squidgy insides and served with olive oil which I love. It's a good start to the meal and we eagerly anticipate the first course which is Mud Crab with Sweetcorn, Ham and Prawn. We're immediately impressed by the presentation. Quite simply, it's gorgeous. I can't bear to ruin the beautiful ensemble but at the same time I can't wait to taste it. We bring our forks down through the layers - it's even more delicate and light than it looks and the taste is.. mmm! All the components are in harmony - the sweetness of the crab and the corn with a savoury accent - we both really enjoy this.
|C's matching wine, bread and olive oil, a wall of wine.|
|It tastes even better than it looks, hard to believe but true!|
Next up is Pickled Garfish with Cracked Wheat, Celery Emulsion and Walnuts. Again, the presentation is lovely - the spiral of the plate complementing the spirals of garfish. The texture of the pickled garfish offset nicely by the crunchy components.
|Coils of tastiness.|
Jamon Poached Tuna with Khoi Rabi, Squid Ink and Black Sausage Crumbs is next. Somehow I can't recall the black sausage crumbs - here's my memory failing now! But I do remember the tuna - it was cooked perfectly, it's a rich tasting piece of fish and meaty with the flavour. The other components on the plate complemented the richness of the fish.
|Jamon Poached Tuna? The best of both worlds.|
After the three courses of seafood, there's a clever transition to the meatier dishes in the form of Lobster with Lamb Sweetbread, Black Bean & Coconut Curd. We're duly impressed when it's set down in front of us. It's a unique combination of strong flavours which work so well together. The pretty piece of lobster is juicy and flavourful, the lamb sweetbread rich and meaty. The sauce and coconut curd really make this an intersting dish and I'm a little sad when I realise that I've gobbled it all up.
|It's different, but it works. It works fantastically.|
Pork Belly with Wattle, Garlic Milk & Rhubarb comes in the form of two cute little squares, the presentation is simpler than some of the earlier dishes but I like it. The pork is tender and rich, I really like this and it tastes lovely with the sauce.
|Pork Belly.... enough said!|
The last savoury dish is Fillet of Black Angus Beef with Carrot, Azuki Bean & White Sweet Potato Cake. Uh-oh, where's the sweet potato cake? I remember there being a puree type component - maybe this dish was a little bit different to the description on the menu as there are sometimes variations with tasting menus. Whatever the case, it looked darn good when it came out. I love the presentation here too. Simple but striking, the accompaniments look great but the beef is clearly the centrepiece. And so it should be - perfectly cooked and full of flavour, it is one nice piece of meat. The sauce is just so and the vegetables prevent the dish from being too heavy. There was some powder on one side that I can't for the life of me remember the name of, but the taste was very unique. C loves this dish a lot so it's a good finish to the savouries.
|The centrepiece of beef is deservedly in the spotlight.|
And dessert? Frozen Goats Cheese Mousse with Violet, Buckwheat Praline & Passionfruit Ice Cream. This is nice, the texture of the frozen mousse is interesting - it's like gliding through the lightest cream cheese ever, the passionfruit ice cream stops the whole ensemble from being too sweet, the cake base gives it a homely feel and violet is nice floral accent.
It was great from beginning to end. Gorgeous presentation and interesting flavour combinations all worked together to make a very memorable meal that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. C - I hope you enjoyed this more than I did, because it was especially for you. I hope you had a great birthday and even more than that, I hope we can celebrate all your birthday's together!
What: Bentley Restaurant & Bar
Where: 320 Crown St, Surry Hills 2010 (02) 9332 2344
How much: Tasting menu is $120 per person, $70 extra with matching wines (Vegetarian tasting menu also available)