In life there is nothing more certain to put one at ease than a leisurely long lunch. Today the location of said lunch is at Café Sydney, a lovely restaurant overlooking Circular Quay. Unfortunately, the weather lacks the same enthusiasm of the diners and as such we hide indoors to escape the cold of the Sydney winter.
My dining companions insist on beers to start, but I cannot pass a good bottle of Western Australian red wine (review of the wine is below) to kick-off proceedings.
Gnocchetti, Braised Beef, Borlotti, Parsley, Lemon and Thyme
I opt for the special which is a beef gnocchetti. Beautiful juicy strips of beef with a rich hearty stew mixed with fluffy gnocchetti and smooth foamy puree taste of the borlotti beans. The parsley and thyme make for a beautiful aromatic and herby flavour overlay to seal the dish. It’s a dish which proves the perfect tonic for the cold Sydney winter.
As you can see the dish was popular with the rest of the table.
No lunch is complete without amazing wine. To start proceedings I peruse the menu and settle on a bottle which cannot be beat. It’s the Leeuwin Estate, Art Series, Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) from Margaret River.
Leeuwin Estate, Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon (2011), Margaret River, Western Australia
The wine is just purely a delightful experience. There is a sense of anticipation as the wine is gently decantered and poured into your glass. The aromas of blackcurrant and cherries with hints of chocolate and earthy notes (herbs and mushrooms) dominate the nasal senses with an inviting allure. On the palate the fruit flavours of the blackcurrant and cherries flow with an effortless poise. They are complemented by notes of dried herbs and tobacco which add to the complexity of the wine. The streak of acidity balances the fruit flavours and flows well into the fine powdery tannins in the finish.
One of my dining companions chooses a second bottle:
Battely Syrah, (2008), Beechworth, Victoria
The wine has nice aromas of black fruits and dusty earthy notes. On the palate, the wine proves rich and highly concentrated with intense flavours of raspberries with an almost syrupy sparkle. There is good level of acidity to balance the concentrated fruit flavours and some smooth tannins with are very welcomed given the main course pairing. The wine has an unmistakably long finish as the notes of the fruit and anise gently disappear from the palate and into your memory.
Beef Tenderloin, Braised Short Rib, Porcini Cream, Pickled Carrot, Grilled Radicchio and Cafe de Paris Butter
The textural contrast of short rib with tenderloin is lovely. The fall apart textured rib meat is thick and heavy, while the juicy and “rich in flavour” tenderloin takes the lead on this dish. The nuances between the two are delightful and make no mistake they are the star of the dish with little need for the other ingredients. The porcini cream has a dusty earthy flavour and does add an extra dimension to the dish. I avoid the Café de Paris Butter and found the pickled carrots were a useful palate cleanser.
The sides prove a lovely accompaniment to the mains as shown below.
My dining companions have the following dishes
Humpty Doo Barramundi, Jerusalem Artichoke, Savoy Cabbage, Mushroom, Lemon Thyme
Rolled Holmbrae Corn Fed Chicken, Jamon, White Onion Cream, Spring Onion Bulb, Turnip and Broadbean
My dining companions opt for a Cheese Plate to share.
– Fleur du Macquis, Ewe’s Milk (Corsica, France)
– The Extravagant, Cow’s Milk (Timboon, Victoria)
– Queso Iberico, Goat and Sheep Milk (Spain)
– Woodside Paisley Blue, Goat’s Milk (Adelaide Hills, South Australia)
I decide to have a sweeter dessert to end the afternoon.
Salted Caramel, Chocolate Peanut Tart, Banana Fritter and Chocolate Ice Cream
The tart is a delightful mix of smoky caramel, crunchy nuts, crumbly base and the rich sweet cocoa flavour. There is a lovely temperature contrast introduced by the chocolate ice cream. The banana fritter has the purely heavenly crunch of the sugar dusted batter, while the soft banana which is encased in the batter is very satisfying.
So ends a lovely leisurely lunch with some fine company… we may disagree on the wine selections, which main course was better and who had the most stylish tie but one thing we are in full agreement on is that we must do this again!