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Sydney Restaurant Recommendations


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8 course degustation at Becasse @ 130 AUD

Canape

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This was goat curd, chives on an olive sable. Delicious.

Bread

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Olive oil puree and black salt

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Swoon. The breads were warm and crusty. The sunflower seed topped one had fresh pumpkin in the centre, like a little pau. The olive oil puree was fantastic - great idea to use at home!

Amuse Bouche

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Parsley, fennel and asparagus citrus cream. This was okaayy. To be honest, I was still taken with the bread so at this point I was distracted.

Salad of heirloom tomato - basil with golden tomato and olive oil sorbet

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This was beautiful. I love tomatoes in any form but this and the olive oil sorbet really hit the spot. It was simple but interesting enough.

Carpaccio of marinated coral trout - with confit octupus, Sichuan pepper jellies and white miso vinaigrette

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I was dreading this because I was all fished out with my morning trip to the fish market. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The confit octupus blew me away. The balls were firm and tender and a perfect complement to the soft fish.

Steamed courgette flower and scallop mouse - verbena tea sauce, vierge and squid ink noodles

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birds eye view

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Beautiful. The scallop mouse was reminiscent of south east asian fish otah. By far the prettiest looking dish!

Roast fillet of jewfish with potato gnocchi, saute of white asparagus, eschallots and parsnips

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This didn't go down well with my friends, but I loved it. Complaints were that it was meat and potato-ish.

Fricasee of veal tongue with scallops, sweetbreads and parsnips

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This was a substitute for the course with pork. This was probably the best main course. The tongue was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the sweetbreads creamy.

Slow cooked saltbush lamb with confit kipfler potatoes and provencal jus

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I was so full by then I finished only half. This was a duo of lamb. Every component was well executed and I would probably have enjoyed it more if not for the earlier veal tongue course.

Palate cleanser

Yoghurt panacotta with orange segments

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This was fantastic in its simplicity, the yoghurt/orange combi was perfect for removing the excess of fat, jus and savouriness from our palates.

Dessert 1

Banana creme brulee with salted peanut brittle and milk coffee sorbet

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Not my choice but my friends were raving about it to no end. The presentation was exceptional.

Dessert 2

Rhubarb and mandarin goats' cheesecake with burnt butter ice cream, lemon balm and honey crumble

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Absolutely swoonworthy. This was a dessert after my heart- Rhubarb, lemon and browned butter!

Petit Fours - chocolate macarons, brandysnaps and fig financiers

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Absolutely fabulous brandysnaps. Weak cries of joy just about around the table. Just when we had thought the night couldn't be topped.

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Thank you for posting those reports Dian. I especially enjoyed the one about Becasse. The only time I've enjoyed Justin North's food was when he did a guest stint at Interlude, and his dishes were outstanding. Hopefully I'll get the chance to eat at his restaurant one day.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Thank you for posting those reports Dian.  I especially enjoyed the one about Becasse.  The only time I've enjoyed Justin North's food was when he did a guest stint at Interlude, and his dishes were outstanding.  Hopefully I'll get the chance to eat at his restaurant one day.

I echo the comment. Good to see some action on this board.

We ate at Becasse a couple of years ago and it is very good. If Michelin was in Australia we thought it would have earned two stars, as it was far better than a lot of two stars we had eaten in in Europe (and a lot better value).

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was in Sydney last November and we dined at Tetsuya, Becasse, Bathers Pavilion & Yoshii. All were highly impressive in their own way and has made my decision to move here from London an easier one to make!

I want to get stuck into the restaurant scene here.

Where's good to go at the moment? especially Japanese?

thanks

fergal

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I was in Sydney last November and we dined at Tetsuya, Becasse, Bathers Pavilion & Yoshii. All were highly impressive in their own way and has made my decision to move here from London an easier one to make!

I want to get stuck into the restaurant scene here.

Where's good to go at the moment? especially Japanese?

thanks

fergal

You've already done some of the best. Perhaps you might like to try Azuma in Chifley Square.

At the other end of the spectrum from fine dining, and if you like your sake, Toriciya in Cammeray is a lovely little izakaya.

I also quite like one of my local restaurants Yu Ge Mu and Shimbashi.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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  • 2 weeks later...

So a week ago I moved from London to Sydney. A good few months travelling and I’m now faced with the prospect of having to find a job – a man has got to eat….

On the plus side, not working means I have the opportunity to try out a few places for lunch at a slightly cheaper price than evening meal. A trawl of Timeout & SMH (already got the acronyms!) suggested The Bentley in Surry Hills as an interesting place to try. Modern inventive tapas style in a cool part of town.

7 courses for $50 was the deal. A number of dishes taken from the normal tapas list, though there is an A La Carte menu.

So plunging straight in:

Kingfish ceviche & Serrano jambon

A refreshing starter. The ceviche was lovely & clean. Shame it was only a mouthful. Followed up by the salty ham, it was nice & simple. No complaints.

Eel Parfait with Seaweed

Next up, Eel Parfait with Yuzu mayo (I think) and seaweed salad. This again was tasty, subtle & moreish. Eel is one of those fish (it is a fish?!) that people are a little scared of, but the way it was prepared here, creamy and smooth would be a good introduction. The seaweed also worked well as a bit of acidity and wasn’t just window dressing.

Squid, squid ink rice & chilli cream

The Squid was possibly my favourite course. A great classic combination, but presented in a slightly innovative way. The chilli cream was lovely, with a nice hint of heat, but nothing overpowering.

herb gazpacho with a potato & chorizo crisp

This was another refreshing dish. The Gazpacho was silky and smooth and the Chorizo & Potato crisp gave something gutsy to stuck into (although 1 bite..)

Slow cooked egg with pork 'bubble'

Next up, a bit weirdly in the order of things was a slow cooked egg with the yolk just set after being cooked for an hour or so at a low temperature. Obviously someone has a Sous Vide machine. It was wobbly and only just set and could be eaten without having to reach for a spoon . The pork skin on the side was a little bit ‘meh’… Not a particularly interesting dish save for the cooking method. A boiled egg is a boiled egg….

slow cooked Morrocan lamb shoulder with chick peas & chick pea chips

The ‘main course’ was lamb shoulder which had been well cooked till you could eat it with a spoon. It had great consistency, and tasted good with the north african spices. The chips I believe are meant to be a bit of a speciality, but they were a bit mealy and not exactly packed with flavour. But something different to try.

The dessert was a chocolate granache with orange oil and salt flakes on top. It had a great thick mousse like consistency with a good cocoa hit, accentuated by the salt (which is a great combination).

So, all in all, a good first meal in Sydney. Some good combinations, well presented with a bit of flair. The lunch deal was certainly worth it and I’d look to go back. With these lunch deals you generally don’t get the most expensive ingredients or inventiveness, so I was pleasantly surprised. I’m going to enjoy Sydney I think.

7/10

fergal

http://foodmiles.wordpress.com/ (includes pictures)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Is no-one else on this board eating in Sydney?!

Continuing on my exploration of Sydney; lunching while I have the free time, I visited Est. a few days ago:

The whole Merivale group are running various promotions, from $35 for lunch. It tempted me enough to give the 3 hat Est. a go. This is not exactly the best way to experience the best a restaurant has to offer, but hey you have to make the most of the available time.

It’s a nice airy room in cream, taupe & pea green. A third of seating is banquets with an arrangement of slightly awkward cushions you have to maneuver around to get comfortable; A classic example of style over functionality.

From the limited menu I started with the linguine with chorizo, broccoli, red chilli, parsley and lemon. All finely chopped and nicely presented. It was OK. The taste was pleasant, but all the flavours kind of muted each other – the relative blandness of the broccoli & pasta not giving an inch to the paucity of chili & chorizo. In retrospect it was a school-boy piece of ordering on my behalf. It was never going to be an exciting dish. I listened to my stomach.

The main course was much better – jewfish fillet, spinach, pine nuts, preserved lemon and tapenade. This was a beautiful piece of fish; well cooked – sweet and succulent, but with a good crisp skin. The tapenade got a bit lost, but the fish more than made up for it. It made a change from the heavier mains I have a tendency to order. I haven’t seen jewfish anywhere other than Australia and I won’t begrudge eating far more of it.

Dessert was Tahitian vanilla cheesecake with strawberry sorbet. I’m not much a dessert freak, but this was pleasant with a good light texture and a not overtly sweet sorbet. It went down well.

This was a nice pleasant lunch, worth the $60 for 3 courses with a glass of wine. But not enough was on show to make me think I couldn’t wait to go back for the dinner experience, which is partly why these restaurants run these kinds of deals. There wasn’t enough sense of occasion. Where are the amuse-bouches etc. I may be expecting too much, but it goes with being a 3 hat restaurant.

Is Est. really worth a go for dinner. Is it worth the 3 hat rating?

fergal

PS. There are photos of the dishes on my blog:

http://foodmiles.wordpress.com/

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Hi Fergal,

There used to be, but they are all cooking at home now after being inspired by Masterchef.

I have never been to Est, so I can't offer any constructive input re dinner. But my friends who are still in Sydney swear by it. Merivale had a good Japanese place (sushi e) in their establishment premises in the old days - not sure if it is still there.

On the three-hat side, Rockpool is my favourite Sydney restaurant, except that it only has two hats. Marque in Surry Hills is also very good. I find Tetsuya's and Guillaume overrated and overpriced.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Fergal, I am back in September.....

I ate at Est a few years ago and we liked it, but I don't remember a lot of detail (is that a telling comment), I like Peter Doyle's food and as you found he is a great fish chef, I used to love his restaurant in Potts Point (Cicada) , so i am certain we will give it a go once we get settled. To me Est is a "big night out" restaurant, my guess is the ambiance is better suited to being glammed up.

Try the Italian at the Ivy (Ucello) for a great lunchtime setting, are they also doing lunch specials? PS - don't take a camera they don't like photos of the pool area.

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Hi,

The $45 Friday lunch at Marque has been raved about but it's impossible to get a table. I think the front of house is getting sick of my thursday afternoon calls enquiring about any cancellations.

I'll look into Ucello. The lunchtime menu looks pretty good.

Quay, Coast, Assiette are also on my hit list. But most good restaurants are only open for lunch on fridays. It requires a bit of forward planning!

I really like Tetsuya and plan to go back at some point, but it looks as though the menu changes rarely which hints at a dearth of innovation. Never a good thing.

fergal

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Quay, Coast, Assiette are also on my hit list. But most good restaurants are only open for lunch on fridays. It requires a bit of forward planning!

I really like Tetsuya and plan to go back at some point, but it looks as though the menu changes rarely which hints at a dearth of innovation. Never a good thing.

fergal

When you finally tire of Sydney, come down to Melbourne. Cutler And Co., Attica, Oyster Little Bourke, Vue de Monde, Mo Vida, etc. There is plenty here to keep you occupied for a very long time.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Hi,

The $45 Friday lunch at Marque has been raved about but it's impossible to get a table. I think the front of house is getting sick of my thursday afternoon calls enquiring about any cancellations.

I'll look into Ucello. The lunchtime menu looks pretty good.

Quay, Coast, Assiette are also on my hit list. But most good restaurants are only open for lunch on fridays. It requires a bit of forward planning!

I really like Tetsuya and plan to go back at some point, but it looks as though the menu changes rarely which hints at a dearth of innovation. Never a good thing.

fergal

Coast and Assiette are very good.

If you like Italian, do also consider Buon Ricordo in Paddington and Pilu at Freshwater for a more Sardinian flavour. Lucio's is also worth a look, great neighbourhood vibe amongst terraces and leafy streets

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

I finally made it to Marque for lunch. It's a great deal with imaginative food preparation and generosity to boot.

It’s a nicely understated restaurant too, without a fancy view to distract from the food. The tables are well sized and well spaced so it creates a nice relaxed vibe, which comes through in the service.

First up as the pre-starter was the ‘L’Arpege egg’. I’ve eaten the one in France and this was just a little less subtle than the original with the sweet, salty, hot & cold flavours not quite working in unison. The grissini didn’t really work either, since it’s not entirely effective at soaking up liquid. However there are far worse ways to begin a meal.

The entrée itself was a deconstructed Ceasar salad. The presentation made it more interesting than it had any right to be and pay more attention to what you’re eating – the shredded egg, the crumb and glorious fat caper. I’ve been known to ask for additional garlic in the Caesar dressing, but couldn’t really complain with such a well delivered dish.

The main course maintained the momentum with a grilled mulloway fillet served with that classic combination of cucumber, yoghurt and boiled potatoes. The twist here was the ‘charcoal’ potatoes which rocked. The potatoes were apparently rolled in ash after cooking then covered in squid ink. We were not the only enquiring table. The fish was beautiful – really crisp skin with succulent flesh. Just like the entrée, it was a simple plate of food executed with verve and a bit of imagination.

The dessert itself didn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the rest of the meal. The marshmallow was good, but in my mind it didn’t quite marry with the lychee sorbet and I found the strands of the citrus fruit a bit irritating to eat. Too tough to cut, too messy to eat as it was.

This was overall an excellent meal. At $45 for 5 courses. I’ve had very few meals which provided as good as value. There’s good, interesting cooking happening here and unlike the comparative lunch mundanity of Est there was a lot on display to make me want to return.

So if you can get a table, I suggest you check it out.

Assiette & Ivy are next on my list.

Fergal

Pictures are on my blog:

www.foodmiles.wordpress.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all,

I've been doing a fair bit of exploring of Sydney, including the odd walk around the harbour. It presents the perfect excuse to try more of the neighbourhood restaurants.

I found myself in Rose Bay last week and got drawn in to Catalina and their $70 lunch special - 3 courses including 2 glasses of wine. I think the deal is running throughout September as well.

Apart from a decidely mediocre amuse-bouche it was a pretty good meal. Good seafood, competently cooked. But it's the view that really makes it, looking out to clear blue skies, with seaplanes docking nearby. There's even what looks like a friendly pelican, but I chose not to get too close.

Walking back towards the city I passed Pier restaurant. It's on my list to try.

On show was their A La Carte Menu & Degustation. Does anybody know if they do a lunch menu of any kind?

Fergal

Pictures are on my blog:

www.foodmiles.wordpress.com

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Hi Fergal,

They have the same menus for lunch and dinner. Seafood there is one of the freshest and best you'd find in Sydney. Looking forward to reading your review once you've visited. :)

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  • 1 month later...

I'm going to be in Sydney from Nov 7 to Nov 16 any spots that are not to be missed but don't make it into guide books? Or just any great spots in general. I like everything from casual hole-in-the-wall to fancy. And all types of cuisine.

Edited by lilac0485 (log)
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Depends what you mean by "guidebooks". Both Sydney and Melbourne have local guides, in Sydney it is the Sydney Morning Heralds - Good Food Guide. It is pretty accurate and covers both fine diners and good hole in the wall places.

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  • 3 months later...

We only got a few days in Sydney during our 6-month trip. So, we had to do the three big names (Pier along with Quay and Tetsuya’s). Unfortunately, they're not on par with the top places in Europe. If I have to pick one, Pier was our best meal in Sydney.

Here are some of the tasty courses from Pier:

Reminded us of Chef Keller’s Salmon Tartare Cornette:

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Carpaccio of coral trout in lime vinaigrette beautifully garnished with diced tomato and soft herbs which included chervil, dill, chives, and tarragon.

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This was the highlight of the evening: Pan roasted scallops and sautéed veal sweetbreads, with an interesting cauliflower tofu in the center. The rich sweetbreads provided a great depth to taste. Both the texture and flavour were spot on. Well done!

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A very “spongy” sponge cake

More on our Sydney restaurants:

www.finediningexplorer.com/rest_of_world

Fine Dining Explorer

www.finediningexplorer.com

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Unfortunately, they're not on par with the top places in Europe. If I have to pick one, Pier was our best meal in Sydney.

I would be interested to hear you expand on the comment. Which ones are you comparing against and where do you think they fall down?

In my experience Sydney restaurants do stack up quite well, probably more at the one and two Michelin star level than three but never the less a good standard.

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As I said, I was only there for few days. We only had a chance to dine at those three. Sure, I can expand. Some of the top places in Europe that I thought of when making the comment:

Michel Bras, France(3*)

Louis XV, Monte Carlo (3*)

Oaxen, Sweden (no star)

Etxebarri, Spain (got 1 star just recently)

Manoir, U.K. (2*)

We had high expectation when we went to each of them for the first time. Not only did they meet our expectations, we have made at least one return trip to each of them.

In Tetsuya’s, the oyster in vinaigrette was the only memorable dish out of 15 items that we had. The Quay's “five Sea Pearl” was unique. It looked spectacular but only one of the pearl was actually tasty.

These are just a few comments on the food, but of course, there are other aspects that affect our dining experience as well, e.g. from the cutleries to the service to the dining room. (Not to be picky, but we are not talking about cheap meals here. We do pay detailed attention to various items.) Btw, we did enjoy the view in both Quay and Pier.

In my experience Sydney restaurants do stack up quite well, probably more at the one and two Michelin star level than three but never the less a good standard.

So I guess you kind of agree that they are not on par with the top places in Europe, i.e. say Michelin 3-star.

Fine Dining Explorer

www.finediningexplorer.com

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Thanks for the clarification, it is a tough comparison to compare the best of the best in Europe to the best in Australia. IMO Australia punches well above its weight (we only have a small population) in terms of absolute quality as well as the high number of good restaurants. Of the three you chose in Sydney there are another six at least that are in the same league.

It is true the style of service and fittings and fixtures are going to be very different to Europe.

Our service is quite casual and our restaurant fit outs take advantage of the climate and views, we are never going to be the same as a French palace (Ducasse) or an old English country house (Blanc), but that said I never find Australian service to be bad simply different. Pricing in Australia has crept up and we are not the bargain we once were, in some respects European restaurants have held their prices against inflation whilst Australian restaurants have leapt ahead, and the currency doesn't help. Last year Quay (degustation @ AUD$210), the most expensive, would have been £95 it is now £116 simply due to the really strong Australian currency. Although this still isn't that bad compared to Bras at £160 ($280), mains alone at Ducasse hovering around the £89 ($160) and Blanc at £125 ($225). That said I still think the top end in Sydney is pushing the envelope too much and far better value is found in the next tier down.

I wonder if Brett Graham will ever return, that would be interesting.

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I also agree that the top end of Australian restaurants are at the one or two star level. Food wise, they can be up their, but are usually lesser quality or inconsistent. Service is a lot more casual, but I think almost as good and the settings are usally never up to the same standard.

I disagree with critics at some of the publications who think that our restaurants are better than anything overseas. Seems to me to be part publicity part I'm friends with the chef. A lot of the major critics are part of 50 Best Restaurants in The World judging panel which a lot of people on here, who dine regularly at the restaurants on the list, disagree with.

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Roosterchef21, amen to everything you said!

I have never had a meal in Australia which would remotely approach in quality anything you would get at a "top tier" restaurant in Europe, particularly France. And I am talking about good two-star places, not even three starrers. Each dish was like an awakening, as if I had never properly eaten or tasted a particular ingredient before. The only time a meal in Australia ever elicited a vaguely similar reaction was a tasting menu at Rockpool back in early 2007.

Am I the only one who thinks that comparisons between Sydney and London are far more valid? Incidentally, these are the cities that the local crits say are the "two food capitals of the world". It may well be a stylistic issue that invites the comparison because so many of Sydney's top modern European chefs have a pedigree that can be traced back to London (via the old Banc crew and others) but I see Sydney and London more on equal pegging for restaurant quality.

However, comparisons between, for example, the great tables of Paris and Sydney/Melbourne three-hatters are completely inappropriate and are of themselves indicative of the incredible jingoism that infects our food press. And I am not talking about service, palaces, fittings, etc - I think most of us here are experienced enough eaters or confident enough in our opinions to be able to discount these factors. Purely based on the food, chefs like Piege and Briffard produce a far greater product than anything I've ever tasted in Australia. If this begs a classical French comparison, Guillaume Brahimi at his peak provides no contest.

And on a personal level, while people continue to be critical of Michelin, the Good Food Guide editors clearly also have their favourites. Roosterchef21 is absolutely correct on this point. Tetsuya, for example, seems to be sacrosanct (or is "invictus" the word du jour these days?), with a recent dinner there consisting of multiple courses of lukewarm, baby food-textured pap more worthy of capital punishment than a single hat. As for Rockpool, if you believe the crits, there appears to be a problem with consistency. I have not been there enough to pronounce otherwise, but on a good night, Neil Perry's team must surely be one of Australia's finest yet they are still slogging away with two hats.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Yes!

London & Sydney is an excellent comparison. They both have outstanding restaurants, as well as the lesser, good quality restaurants (i.e Bib Gourmand level). But they aren't up to the standard of say, Paris or New York. On the Bib Gourmand rating, places such as Bistro Moncur, Sean's Panorama, Bodega, etch and Buzo would be at this level. There's a fair few at the one star level, with a couple of three hatters in Guillaume and Becasse making up the top level of this category. At two star level, most if not all of the rest of the three hatters I feel would be at this level. Recently, Nicholas le Bec was (still is?) out here doing dinners. I feel that he is up to and exceeds the standard of all the three hatters. Comparatively, Quay, which is meant to be the best restaurant in the country at the moment, I didn't feel was anywhere near the quality of Le Bec's flagship restaurant in Lyon. I believe that Le Bec is at the upper end of the two Michelin star level and he may actually reach three stars one day.

On Tetsuya, potentially he is as good as if not better than some of his peers, but he isn't up to the standard of a truly great chef along the lines of Passard or Gagnaire. I feel that some of his food is same same texturally, and the whole meal doesn't seem to reach the kind of level of most three stars. He has a superb skill in the balance of flavours though, better than most.

On the food press, it frustrates me quite a bit that a critic can be a friend of a chef or owner, and still claim to produce a completely unbiased review. They may say they can, but they are humans. The Michelin Guide, despite it's amazing ability of being slow to react (Bocuse & Blanc at three stars? I don't think so.), is impersonal and accurate most of the time. It doesn't feel as though the inspectors have made friends with the owner/chef, and their slogan of "Famously Anonymous" should be followed by all critics. The fact you have never seen the face of a Michelin Inspector in most cases gives them a distinct advantage over any other food critic. The Gault Millau is in the same boat. Food critics with their face in the paper or on TV makes their reviews seem a little tainted if you know what I mean. Michelin Guide inspectors seem like the SAS of the food guide world to me. You will never see their face, but they do a far better job, secretive and are far more professional than the locals.

I'd be really interested to see what the Michelin Guide would say about some Australian restaurants, and how the local press would react to having the boat rocked and their precious ego's hurt. I'm sure that there would be less than three three stars and more than likely none. The food press are funny about the Michelin Guide. They complain about it, call it wrong but then promote it when it suits there own purposes.

Sydney is still an excellent dining destination to visit. Sydney on the world scene is kind of like the Sydney-Melbourne battle on the local scene. Sydney has a lot more high end restaurants but less of the mid range restaurants where as Melbourne has the mid range but less high end. Hope that comparison make's sense.

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I would also agree on the Sydney/London comparison. We lived in Paris for a couple of years and found the UK to be over-rated compared to the general standard in France. Lots of press talking up he standard but we often found the delivery lacking on the plate. That said France can be patchy, we never had a bad three star meal, but had one or two questionable two star ones and a few ones stars.

In Sydney I have had a few meals that are firmly at the good end of two star territory. Becasse a couple of years ago really impressed, all the more so as we were fresh from Paris. Last year we had a stunning meal at Universal, with some really impressive flavour combinations. We are yet to really get back into the swing of Sydney restaurants but it will be interesting to see how they have changed over the last couple of years. Sydney vs. London: well I know I am glad to be home!

The inconsistency comment is also very pertinent, Rockpool when it is good is really great, but some dishes don't quite gel. That said I think Neil continues to push boundaries and isn't recognised as much as he should be for his ability to elevate and deliver Asian influenced dishes to such a high standard.

I would love to see Michelin here, the anominity and the relative consistency would be a good yardstick. I like the GFG because it does a pretty good job of judging good and bad, a 14 pointer or one hatter is going to be good. Whether the shenanigans at the 2 or 3 hatter level has much merit I don't know, I tend to view them in a similar manner and don't really put much stock by the place that is "the best".

I wonder though whether we can judge Australian food by French standards? Is it appropriate to benchmark against the grand palaces of Paris? Should Michelin make allowances for the Australian style of food? The same debate rages in London i.e. why did it take St John so long to get a star (IMO because it doesn't deserve one, unless it is the "hall of fame category). And I know Gary Marshal on the UK board has argued that Michelin use a Pub scale to rate places like The Star (I am not sure about that), so Australia may warrant an assessment based on our individual style of food. Alternatively have we lost our way a bit because everyone is trying to be someone else, restaurants are French or Italian or Spanish, where are the modern Australian ones, they seem to have fallen out of fashion.

The other factor is price, the top tables in Sydney are already too expensive for what they deliver, imagine the cost if they wanted to compete at the three star level. Most three stars have a chef per diner, plus all the FOH staff. I imagine the ratio in Sydney is closer to 1:5 if not greater. Paris restaurants are fabulously expensive as a result, even the ones where the hotels cross subsidise. Cheaper three star food can be had in the countryside, but here wages are lower, property is cheaper etc. It will be interesting to see how the Royal Mail Hotel goes in this regard, I was intrigued to see it listed as Anthony Bourdain's best meal of 2009 (on OAD). I need to get down there, the menu does look very interesting, but it is a hell of a way out of Melbourne..!

Re: the Banc crew, have any of them returned yet? I thought the ones who had gone to London (like Brett) where still there, whilst others like Warren Turbull went straight from Banc to their own places in Sydney (I know Warren had a stint in London pre-Sydney). If Brett comes home hopefully he will bring Stephen Williams with him so I can enjoy the Harwood Arms scotch eggs here.

Anyway off to throw a few racks of lamb on the barbie and open some old Clare Valley Riesling and enjoy a simple backyard BBQ on Australia day.

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