Sunday, 6 January 2008
I finally made it to Tetsuya's. This was a gimme for my 101-1001 list, as we had it planned already. But it's something I'd been meaning to do for years, and I consider myself lucky that Tetsuya is still there. He could so easily have retired, or moved to London or Tokyo. But he's still there - moved from Rozelle to the city centre, in a heritage building that used to house a Japanese restaurant. The Japanese gardens are lovely - we had a view onto one with a large water feature - and the old stone house has several separate rooms, with modern artworks scattered around.
It cost a bomb, and it was worth it. Although the atmosphere and service were not quite up to the ideal of 100% perfection, the food and wine were incredible. Not being wine experts, we chose the wine flight to go along with the dégustation menu, and were very glad of it. The food was spectacular, and extraordinary, and delicious. The wines were always a perfect match, and the sommelier was charming and funny in a very Australian style.
It's currently $195 for the food, and $95 for the matching wine flight. The menu is fixed, but they consult with you about any individual allergies or strong dislikes. The meal stretched out over four hours, with 14 courses, with 10 accompanying wines - in 60ml serves. Full glasses would be very excessive! The service was very good for 95% of the time - professional and unobtrusive delivery, with friendly and helpful information about the details of each course.
Menu and details are below the fold.
0. Bread rolls with truffle & parmesan butter.
1. Cold Corn Soup with Saffron and Vanilla Icecream
A half martini glass of velvety, savoury, and delicious soup. The icecream is not sweet, of course. The bloke, who hates corn, got a mushroom consomme.
2. Smoked Ocean Trout and Avruga Caviar
Accompanied by chilled Tamano Hikari Sake, Kyoto region.
This was a disc of chopped trout, with a smooth layer of tiny caviar on top, and a poached quail egg. A lovely mix, simple and classic. The waitress said it was a scallop mousse on top, but it wasn't.
3. Leek and Crab Custard
Accompanied by a very floral riesling; I don't have a record of which.
A very delicate, almost junket textured, savoury custard with little shards of caramelised leek and a large chunk of spanner crab at the bottom. A divine variant on chawan-mushi.
4. Scallop Carpaccio with red wine vinaigrette
And a 2007 Maverick Hill Riesling, Eden Valley SA, more citrussy and spicy than the previous.
The single scallop was shaved thin, and served with a microherb salad. The texture was almost crunchy, and the vinaigrette included some pearls of finger lime which highlighted this beautifully.
5. Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Daikon & Fennel; Green Salad.
2007 Henschke Joseph Hill GerwurtzTraminer, Even Valley SA.
Tetsuya's signature dish, by all accounts. This was a more substantial chunk of fish than the previous mouthfuls. Crusted in konbu powder, layed over the daikon and fennel shards, it was divine. The konbu is quite assertive, and adds a meaty umami edge to the fish. The simple green salad was very welcome as a refreshing balance.
6. Raviolo of Queensland Spanner Crab with tomato and basil vinaigrette
2005 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya's, Margaret River WA.
This one was very nice but not mind-meltingly brilliant. The single raviolo was more like a steamed wonton than pasta. The crab was fresh and sweet and the light tomato salad dressing was delicious.
7. Steamed Baby Abalone with Braised Oxtail in Orange
2006 Felton Road Pinot Noir for Testuya's, Central Otago NZ.
A real wow in the mix of textures, an ultimate surf'n'turf. The chewy abalone with a hint of the sea and the soft braised meat with the subtle orange flavour, and the pinot noir melded the flavours brilliantly. But abalone is still tough, it's an overrated ingredient in my opinion.
8. Twice Cooked Deboned Spatchcock with Caper and Olive Jus
2003 Parker Estate Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra SA.
A pillow of baby chicken leg meat, in my opinon rather overwhelmed by the very sharp and salty jus. Some strips of eggplant softened it and helped the blend, and the rich red wine also helped meld things. This one was only "good", and the wine arrived a bit too late.
9. Grilled Wagyu Beef with lime and wasabi
2005 The Steading Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro, Barossa Valley SA.
A return to amazing! The wine was possibly the most delicious red I've ever tasted - I want a bathtub of it. The beef was utterly tender and rich, and the classic japanese pairing with wasabi was beautifully enhanced with a sliver of ponzu jelly.
10. Comte with lentils
A single spoon of sweet puy lentils, with a fluff of grated cheese. A slightly odd termination of the savouries.
11. Marinated Peach with Vodka & Peach Sorbet; Summer Pudding
2005 Tamar Ridge Botrytis Riesling, Tamar Valley, Tas
A small martini glass of perfectly ripe white peach and a divine soft pink sorbet. Heaven. And a second glass of deconstructed summer pudding - tiny cubes of soaked bread and berry jelly, mixed through actual berries, with a soft tangy sweetened cream on top - perhaps a crème fraîche? Lovely. Better than mine, though I guess Tetsuya doesn't resort to frozen berries.
12. Banana Mousse and Caramel Icecream
(dessert wine continued) I can't say much about this, as I hate banana, but it looked good! My substitute was an amazing chocolate mousse, served with a soft compote of cumquats and some citrussy jelly.
13. Chocolate Terrine with Marscapone and Cognac Anglaise
Romate Perdo Ximinez Cardinal Cisneros, Jerez, Spain
A powerful, knock your socks off, dark, sweet, raisiny sherry matched the thick dark chocolate terrine to perfection. This was a very rich finish.
14. Tea, Coffee, petit fours
They forgot our petit fours! We didn't bother to remind them, as we were so very, very stuffed full. I had a lovely fresh mint tisane; the less caffeine-affected tell me that the coffee was good but not outstanding.
Apart from the little service glitches mentioned, the other minor annoyance was that the room was too loud. But I still feel that it was worth it for the sheer artistry of the food and wine. Would we do it again? Oh yes indeed - but I'm not in a great hurry at those prices. Maybe for my 50th birthday...