Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Guillaume at Bennelong, Sydney

The reservation was made weeks ago, outfits have been tried on and off, menus have been read several times but we still hadn’t come to a decision. The weeks of anticipation is coming to an end. Tonight is going to be the night.

As we walk up the steps towards the sails of the Opera House, the rain sprinkles lightly, the wind is blowing horrendously and I’m finding it difficult to enjoy the view while making sure I don’t fall flat on my face. When we reach to the top, I compose myself and take a deep breath before I enter Guillaume at Bennelong

It’s absolutely stunning inside, just as impressive as the exterior. I’m always intrigued and have great admiration for interior architecture, so I take a few minutes to enjoy the monument before going down the stairs to be greeted by the hostess. My partner bought me a camera for my birthday, Sony DSC-HX30V, with which I happily snapped around the room. The camera has an amazing scene selection, one in particular called "Gourmet" which is purposely created to take a "natural shot of food". You can really notice the difference in the quality of the photo when it is selected. I forgot to use it during entree but when I switch it on during mains and desserts and the photos come out sharper and brighter.

As we are fond of eating dinner early, my parents and I make reservations for the pre-theatre sitting menu ($66 for 2 courses, $78 for 3 courses). All the other menus, such as their tapas (choice of four $35, six $45, eight $55), à la carte (4 courses, $150) and degustation (8 courses, $195) start from 8.00pm. The hostess reminds us, as notified in the email, that we have to give up our table at 7.45pm. But after taking a quick look at the rest of the night’s list of reservations she informs us there isn’t a table waiting after us so we are free to take our time. This is music to our ears! We are also told that we can choose either the à la carte or the pre-theatre dinner menu. But we decide to stick with the 3 courses!

Complimentary sourdough bread and lescure butter

The sourdough bread roll is from Iggy's bread of the World at Bronte and Sydney lescure butter from Poitou, France. The butter is creamy, soft and perfect to spread over the bread. The roll is a bit hard as every time anyone cuts into it, crumbs fly everywhere and is a bit difficult to enjoy. 

Royale of asparagus, blue swimmer crab and shallot vinaigrette
I choose the royale of asparagus as my entree and it sings summer! The blue swimmer crab is light, sweet and perfectly cooked. The asparagus puree sits at the bottom of the dish and adds a smooth texture to the crab and herb salad. It is not at all pungent in its taste. The acidity from the shallot vinaigrette lifts the dish. The entire dish is refreshing and could possibly be recreated at home, substituting the crab with other crustaceans or scallops. 
Local rock fish soup, mussels, crab, scallop, croutons and saffron aioli
I was having a difficult time deciding whether I wanted the royale asparagus or the fish soup but I'm very happy with what I chose. Mum had the fish soup but I didn't really enjoy it. I wasn't expecting it to have that much of a fish flavour and is quite overwhelming. The scallop is cooked perfectly and the giant crouton is perfectly immersed in the soup to still be crunchy.  
Oysters, freshly shucked to order with shallot vinegar 
Dad had the oysters and thought they were fresh and sweet. They claim it to be freshly shucked and indeed it is because the oysters itself is stuck to the shell. 

Green beans with almond butter, $14.00
The green beans are cooked perfectly. They don't have a snap but are firm when bitten into. It doesn't taste raw which usually happens when beans are only just cooked, but they are tender and sweet. The almond butter made it very fragrant and nutty. It reminded me of almond short bread, slightly sweet but also savoury. 

Pyrenees of lamb, roast garlic puree, pickled shallots, lamb jus
Mum's lamb looked rare but to the taste, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It is very pink but when she sliced into it no blood came out which means it is rested enough for the juices to retain in the meat. 

Barramundi, roast fennel, oyster mushroom, clams and beurre blanc
The skin of the barramundi is crispy and the flesh is soft and silky. It couldn't have been cooked more perfectly. But I'm not sure whether I like the other components of the fish as it was giving an earthy flavour I didn't quite enjoy.

Rangers Valley sirloin (300 day grain fed), crispy kipfler potatoes watercress salad, béarnaise 
I regret not ordering the sirloin because it was delicious! Dad wanted it to be medium-rare and that is exactly what he got! The meat is tender, soft and didn't lose any of its beef flavour. The béarnaise is the perfect condiment for the steak. I've had some bad béarnaise sauce before, sometimes tasting like cheesecake, but at Guillaume, this was certainly made at its best. The chips are another highlight as the kipfler potato had its own sweet taste unlike regular potatoes which are quite bland. I also manage to steal a roasted garlic glove which is heavenly sweet and aromatic. 
Citrus tart, meringue and lime syrup

When Mum made the reservation, she was sneaky and told them it was my birthday so when my dessert arrived I got a little special message and a "the chef sends his regards" message from the waiter. The citrus tart is absolutely gorgeous and precisely what I had been craving for. The citrus layer is tangy but the meringue certainly sweetens and lightens the entire tart. Even though I am incredibly full from the first two courses I can not possibly let myself leave the restaurant with an unfinished citrus meringue tart! It is the perfect dessert for me because it is not overly sweet and I love meringue!  

Raspberries and rose petal macaron, vanilla bean cream and raspberry sorbet
The presentation of this dessert was so lovely and pretty! Mum gave me the macaron shell to eat as she finds them to be too sweet. I'm starting to lose my liking for macarons so I'm not that intrigued. It's alright, I don't taste any rose flavour. I don't get to try any of the dessert because she's already gobbled it up but she tells me the raspberries are ripe but the tang works perfectly well with the vanilla bean cream and adds to raspberry sorbet. 

Chocolate crème brûlée, cherry sorbet, chocolate crunch
The chocolate crème brûlée is dark and not at all too rich. The caramelised top intensifies the chocolate and makes it a great chocolate dessert. The cherry sorbet cuts through any richness. All of the desserts have fruit and a sweet component which I think is the perfect combination for a refreshing yet satisfying end of a meal. 

My adventure at Guillaume at Bennelong was not at all a disappointment. The food was amazing, the view was spectacular and the company was ideal. I couldn't have asked for a better place to celebrate my birthday with my parents as everything was perfect and delicious. It is definitely a place for a special occasion or if you're feeling very fancy! I hope to come back and taste their degustation or à la carte as they have so much more I want to try and explore. This two hated restaurant welcomes you into a new culinary experience! 

Guillaume at Bennelong
Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point


9241 1999

Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon

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