Tuesday, 13 November 2012

So here we are, I have bitten the bullet and gone to my first restaurant degustation (my last was a pop-up, and a great one at that). And so I have revived the series of 'Gastronomic Blowout' posts that I started in Melbs last year. Brace yourselves ;)

There are no prizes for guessing this one, we went to Stanmore's new addition Sixpenny. Just past Newtown, there aren't a whole lot of things the suburb can recommend for itself - but here's a good place to start! Owner-chefs James Parry and Daniel Puskas (ex Oscillate Wildly) have opened this degustation only restaurant much to the delight of foodies and critics alike. Stepping away from their Michelin starred and hatted roots, they have branched out to start this venture. When Mr Durack gave it 16/20 back in March, it went straight on my hit-list and eight months later, I've made it!

Situated on a corner block on Percival Rd, we were met with a closed door, and walls draped with sheer white terylene curtains. The restaurant is rather tiny (in a good way) to seat about 35. There's also a separate dining area for 8 (I assume 'out the back'). Being one of the first tables to arrive (I feel old), we were sat at a round walnut table with matching chairs (comfy!). The dining room had a rather Scandinavian feel about it (no complaints here) but with  distinct touches of Australiana, the native flowers at the waiter's station (which is right front and centre) and the botanical prints hung on a green wall panel.

Not bad, if I do say so myself (my photo + the dining room)!

All in all the design is quite pared back and understated, which I think rather suits the kind of food that was to be served. The soundtrack was very welcome featuring the likes of Radiohead and Feist and thank god it wasn't blaring because I don't like to shout. Trust me to notice but the wine glasses were crystal by Plumm, an Australian company to rival the Austrians (looking square at you, Riedel). And the crockery by Bendigo Pottery (est. 1858), something tells me that this was a very deliberate move to support local industry and I applaud that.

We settled on ordering the 'Tasting Menu', 5 to 6 courses. It was a good introduction as "My First Degustation", the big kids version is 8 courses (maybe next time??). To start the night off we were given some 'snacks', 5 to be exact. In addition we also had house made sourdough with mascarpone butter (I was in two-minds about indulging the bread but decided I had to seeing as it was made on site) as well as some Kipfler potato chips which were made from the skins alone, and paper thin - you've got to try those! 

To start you off: an onion pickle with verjuice (hmm, still a bit too onion-ey i thought) and rye toast with fresh cheese. I am so glad we started miniature here (we will also end in miniature but I'll get to that ;) )

The potato scallop: you know that anything with the words potato and fried in it is good but these puffy golden discs were delicious! The light dusting of chicken skin salt was the perfect seasoning

Pork knuckle sandwich: it could only be on mini brioche toasts, right? The apple and bergamot jelly was a nice touch 
Waste not, the duck tongue with jus. Once you get the past the fact it's tongue, you'll be delighted to know it just tastes like duck, without any toughness or chewiness. It was cooked right and that's always a good start
Et maintenant Mesdames et Messieurs, we get to the main event (that's pretty much the extent of my French these days, shame)! In case you didn't already know, here's how it works at Sixpenny: the chefs do double duty and serve your dishes, explaining each course as they go. It must be completely interruptive in the kitchen but it really is a lovely touch and does not go unappreciated. Sometimes it was all rather mystifying with the volume of information, but I tried to keep my ears peeled. 

The amuse = Sixpenny's fruit salad. This dish consisted of scrolls of grilled peach filled with ricotta, translucent slithers of green peach, milk chips and a lemony micro herb garnish, all drizzled with pear juice. A rather ingenious use of a mandolin here I think.
This is IT. The famed spanner crab, silky macadamia and chamomile with macadamia shavings. Look, the degustation could have finished here and I would have been happy. M had been looking forward to this singular dish for months and I tell you, we were not disappointed. At first I thought it was an early dessert (well,  alright then) but the plating had been tweaked slightly (for the better i think!). An early high note for the evening, the crab meat was 1. real (and I love the generosity here) 2. creamy and smooth 3. accented with macadamia. Done. We can all go home now

The complimentary course (read: AWESOME!) - seared sea mullet with toasted walnut, dressed lightly with mead vinegar/buttermilk. In the dying light I was just able to capture it.
In the few minutes that we were able to chat to Dan, they're open 5.5 days a week (Sunday is lunch service only) and the other two days, they're at the farm in Mittagong. I imagine in my head a rather idyllic kitchen garden where they grow all their herbs and vegies - I'm rather jealous I must say! How immensely satisfying it must be to grow and cook all your own produce. Living the dream people ;)

And here we have the poached snapper fillet with pumpkin seed cream and soft leeks with a pepita (pumpkin) seed and sea salt crumb. Apologies it's almost blurred beyond recognition! It's always a good sign when you can eat a fish dish without a knife, and this was no exception. The pumpkin in the cream was a really nice accompaniment for a melt-in-your-mouth soft finish. P.S. i could taste the butter off of those leeks (eep!) but I'll let that pass because the fish was so so good...

It was also interesting to note how 'in time' everyone moved, as if it were choreographed. As the night went on and the dining room became progressively fuller and noisier (proportional to collective alcohol consumption), the chefs would maintain a calm exterior but the pace would subtly quicken. The gaps between courses would get a little bit longer but I have no qualms about that. We all needed a little moment to rest and digest. One good thing about eating/starting earlier is that you get to 'preview' all the dishes before everyone else. As others would commence the degustation, you knew what they were getting next and could gauge their reactions! A little voyeuristic of me I know, but it felt like a very shared experience.

And den? Suffolk leg of lamb with sweet blackened onions, grilled baby leek and  garnished with saltbush and chickweed. Men breathed a sigh of relief at seeing a proper piece of protein. Degustation being the name of the game, you can't expect to put away a 250 grammer right in the thick of it. No thanks! Anyway, the lamb was tender and cooked well although others found it to be slightly chewy
And then came the sweeties...huzzah!

Sticky rhubarb which reminded me so much of Haw Flakes i.e. "saan zaa beng" - the fruity discs that I used to scoff as a child. YUM! Also, meringue with lemon, chamomile and honey ice - a delicious mouthful. My only wish was that there were more ;)

Only my favourite: green strawberry poached in rosella (wild hibiscus) soup (ty, Don Burke) and ginger sorbet. Pretty as a picture on that orange plate! That sorbet was incredible - the lack of sweetness   sits very well with me and it was so light. 

It might not look like much but this was Sixpenny's milo ice cream. Fans of the old milo McFlurry (ew) look no further. This version included a rye ice cream that was like eating clouds. Barely churned, this is what I want from my (future) ice cream maker...yes, please. My only note here would be that the serving was too large and not quite in keeping with the rest. Maybe a quinelle (on the larger side, of course) would suffice?
As the meal was reaching its end *sigh* I ordered a fresh leaf lemon myrtle tea. It was something different (I'm always game), and picked fresh off the farm no doubt. Me and my little glass teapot for 2, what luxury!

Petits-Fours: Sixpenny's Arnotts cookie jar (plus lamingtons) already has a legion (maybe?) of fans. Pick your favourite from the pint sized monte carlos, kingstons, delta creams and gingernut biccies. Don't mind if I do! The green lidded jar (Bendigo Pottery strikes again) was adorable as well.
So close to three hours later we had traipsed our way across a 6 cum 7 course degustation (plus extras!) - it was epic (kind of like this post, eh) and completely wonderful. Sixpenny has forged a name and character for itself in its not even one year of existence. It has earnt one hat in the 2013 SMH GFG and named this year's Hot Talent in the Time Out Food Awards. Hopefully we'll be seeing the rise and rise of these guys in years to come!  

To top it all off, we were given doggy bags packed with a couple of loaves of Sixpenny sourdough, "for breakfast the next day". Swooning. Right. Now. So the degustation continues on! I am in awe with the amount of care and consideration that has gone not only into the menu but also gestures of goodwill like this one 

In the end, I surprised myself in that I wasn't too full (granted I had very strategic portion control during the day but no matter). I enjoyed this evening to the fullest, being a celebration of several things ;) And it may sound ridiculous (perhaps not) but I didn't want to leave! I felt so at home and would have happily spent longer there had I not been coaxed out the door by my company. Once they did get me outside, I was riding a high & couldn't wipe the grin off my face! It had to be a winner.

Thanks for reading xo


Post a Comment


The City Gourmand All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger