A Birthday Celebration At Quay Restaurant, Sydney – Part One

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Smoked Eel, Green Walnuts; Oscietra Caviar, Sea Cucumber Crackling. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
Smoked Eel, Green Walnuts; Oscietra Caviar and Sea Cucumber Crackling... What an exquisite looking dish! Photo credit: Vivienne She

This February I celebrated my milestone birthday with Kent through a quiet dinner at Sydney’s Quay restaurant. It was on the cusp of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia. We felt very fortunate that we were able to stick to our original booking; without been cancelled or postponed due to the unpredictability of COVID-19 cases and the associated restrictions.

Quay restaurant review by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
In my smart casual ensemble outside Quay restaurant in Sydney. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

As it’s such a special occasion, I had my hair and makeup done. Then I threw together a look with something given, something new and something from the past. My aim was to look glam yet be relaxed and comfortable for a journey of epicurean adventure. We arrived a little early, so I had time for Kent to take a commemorative portrait outside Quay restaurant, at this stunning location looking towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge. When our table was ready, we were led through the main dining area, past the long bar, up a wide flight of stairs to the upper section inside the round tower with 360-degree view.

Vivienne She, the writer/creator of White Caviar Life at Quay restaurant. Image by Street Fashion Sydney - Kent Johnson.
We made it! Feeling very fortunate that we were able to stick to our original booking during COVID time. Photo credit: Kent Johnson
Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
Kent started the celebration with a glass of Negroni. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Late February, the end of the Southern Hemisphere summer and at 6pm it was still bright. Soon we comfortably settled in stylish Adam Goodrum leather chairs and it’s time for first drinks. Kent started with a glass of Negroni while we were checking out the menu. We had our minds set on the 8-course tasting menu and to have the full Quay thrill, we chose the Sommelier’s 8-Course Wine Pairing.

Amuse-Bouche

Amuse-bouche from Quay restaurant. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
Spot the amuse-bouche from a bowl of walnuts! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Walnuts, with a touch of humour. A ‘spot me if you can’ exercise from a bowl of real walnuts to find the ones that don’t break your teeth (yes we were warned)! These walnut-look-alike mouth amusers were nutty, moist and finger-licking delish. It definitely offered us a glimpse of the chef’s artistry and showmanship.

2010 Mitchell McNicol Riesling, Clare Valley

2010 Mitchell McNicol Riesling, Clare Valley. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
This bright golden-yellow Riesling has such beautiful apple aroma! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Our wine arrived before its pairing dish. Well we didn’t mind, especially what came to the table was bright golden-yellow Riesling with such beautiful apple aroma. The finish is clean, refined and balanced. I’m not a big Riesling fan but this Riesling might have changed my mind.

Raw Scallops, Agretti; Oyster Cream, Fresh Squash Seeds; Liquorice Kombu

Raw Scallops, Agretti; Oyster Cream, Fresh Squash Seeds; Liquorice Kombu. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Kent Johnson.
Raw Scallops, Agretti; Oyster Cream, Fresh Squash Seeds and Liquorice Kombu. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

These raw scallops were so fresh and sweet. In fact, the liquorice kombu was subtle, so much so that Kent and I could hardly notice it was there. I enjoyed the contrast in textures from the creaminess, softness of the scallops and the crispness from agretti, pumpkin seeds and seaweed.

Raw Scallops, Agretti; Oyster Cream, Fresh Squash Seeds; Liquorice Kombu. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
I enjoyed the contrast in textures of this dish. Photo credit: Vivienne She

So thoughtfully prepared, that none of these unusual components overpowered the scallops. The fruitiness and the freshness of its pairing wine was perfect, and maybe had the edge on the starter itself.

2018 Clos Cibonne Tradition Tibouren Rosé, Côtes De Provence, France

2018 Clos Cibonne Tradition Tibouren Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
Amber! The colour of this French Rosé is just stunning! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Amber! The colour of this French Rosé is just stunning. This golden orange hued Rosé has a rather strong cheese and cumin spice on the nose. Once tasted, what replaced the cheesy smell was a light and fruity flavour. And yes, we loved it.

Vivienne She, the writer/creator of White Caviar Life at Quay restaurant. Image by Street Fashion Sydney - Kent Johnson.
This golden orange hued Rosé has a rather strong cheese and cumin spice on the nose. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Smoked Eel, Green Walnuts; Oscietra Caviar, Sea Cucumber Crackling

Smoked Eel, Green Walnuts; Oscietra Caviar, Sea Cucumber Crackling. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
Chef Peter Gilmore is known as the Master of Cream and Custard… his Smoked Eel Cream did not disappoint. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Another exquisite looking dish! ‘It takes five whole eels to make a litre of delicate smoked eel cream.’ Our waitstaff explained. And who has heard of sea cucumber crackling anyway (let alone trying it)… The flavour? Smoky, creamy and crunchy all in one bite. The smoked eel cream alone was mouth-watering. Layers of smoke and the zest of the Rosé went so well combined. For me, a plate like this is the reason why people choose fine dining.

Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne

Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
It’s Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne… What more to say… Photo credit: Kent Johnson

It’s Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne… What more to say… Cheers!

Poolish Crumpets, Smoked Roe; Cultured Cream

Poolish Crumpets, Smoked Roe; Cultured Cream. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
Poolish Crumpets, Smoked Roe; Cultured Cream and Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Apparently, poolish is a technique of making the crumpet more aerated and more moreish. Leaving the technique behind, what I liked about our surprise course was that the crumpets were served in a toaster-like wooden holder… what a clever idea!

Poolish Crumpets, Smoked Roe; Cultured Cream. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
This bonus course is a much welcomed palate cleanser. Photo credit: Vivienne She

This bonus course was a palate refresher; appetizing and much welcomed. And who could say no to a glass of Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne?!

Vivienne She, the writer/creator of White Caviar Life and Sydney photographer Kent Johnson at Sydney's Quay restaurant.
How we managed to have a portrait together without asking the waitstaff! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

In between the dishes I looked up and discovered the mirror ceiling. Although personally I do prefer the old world charm when it comes to dining interior. Well we all heard about Quay’s four-million-four-month renovation in 2018, but what happened to the crisp, snow-white tablecloth? Perhaps it makes more sense for a venue which dedicates to the innovative, modern Australian cuisine to have a totally contemporary set up.

2019 Emmerich Knoll Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau Austria

2019 Emmerich Knoll Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau Austria. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
2019 Emmerich Knoll Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau Austria… another top-shelf European wine! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Fruity on the nose, a touch of peppery spice on the palate. Another top-shelf European wine. Kent and I both enjoyed it.

Southern Squid, Fresh Bamboo; Pin Striped Peanuts, Super Chicken Broth

Southern Squid, Fresh Bamboo; Pin Striped Peanuts, Super Chicken Broth. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
Southern Squid, Fresh Bamboo; Pin Striped Peanuts with Super Chicken Broth. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Bamboo, squid and pin striped peanuts… what an unusual combo! Don’t get me wrong, as a Chinese/Taiwanese I am used to having (and loving) bamboo. I’ve had lots of bamboo with seafood in countless Thai dishes as well and I enjoyed them too. The odd one for me here is the pin striped peanuts. They were hard and personally I don’t think the nutty flavour went well with the rest in the same bowl.

Southern Squid, Fresh Bamboo; Pin Striped Peanuts, Super Chicken Broth. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
Another delicate looking dish! Photo credit: Vivienne She
Vivienne She, the writer/creator of White Caviar Life at Quay restaurant. Image by Street Fashion Sydney - Kent Johnson.
The Rocks in twilight… What a stunning backdrop! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

As for the creamy elements… Sure it looked pretty with flowers attached on the bowl wall. Unfortunately once it mixed with the soup, it seemed to lose purpose. The colour of the Super Chicken Broth looked promising; however, it was a bit flat and lacked of saltiness for me. Of course with fine dining, you need to carry your own salt-and-pepper… just in case!

Sydney photographer and Street Fashion Sydney creator Kent Johnson at Quay restaurant in Sydney. Image by Vivienne She for White Caviar Life.
Kent, contemplating the next five courses. Photo credit: Vivienne She

So far we liked the pace of how our Quay discovery journey was slowly unfolding. Kent and I took our time to enjoy the pairing wines, to exchange thoughts regarding the food; to indulge in the dining atmosphere and to take some snapshots for one another. My previous worries regarding COVID dining time restriction was not exist… in fact, quite the opposite.

Vivienne She, the writer/creator of White Caviar Life at Quay restaurant. Image by Street Fashion Sydney - Kent Johnson. Quay review by White Caviar Life.
Taking my time to indulge in some outstanding wines… Photo credit: Kent Johnson

2018 Nick Spencer Maragle Vineyard, Chardonnay, Tumbarumba

2018 Nick Spencer Maragle Vineyard, Chardonnay, Tumbarumba. Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
2018 Nick Spencer Maragle Vineyard, Chardonnay, Tumbarumba. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Australian wine maker Nick Spencer believes that 2018 vintage has produced some of the best fruit he has seen. Sipping this Chardonnay, which has been sold-out from the market; it was smooth and very easy to drink. Although we did not love every dish served tonight equally, the wines we tasted were consistently outstanding.

Quay review by White Caviar Life. Image by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
Stay tuned to our Part Two of A Birthday Celebration at Quay Restaurant, Sydney. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

To be continued…

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Vivienne is a traveller, author; story teller and sometimes a muse. She seeks a balance between travelling in comfort and style with value; perhaps being the daughter of a hotelier helps there. Through White Caviar Life, you will share in her travel experiences, stories and tips that she hopes to help enhance your own travel.

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