If you’re living in Sydney, there is one site that you need to bookmark, right now. Sydney Morning Herald’s Appetite for Sydney specials for the month of July. Go there, right now!
In the news, there’s been a fair bit recently about restaurants going into voluntary administration; Justin North’s renown Becasse being the most notable example.
Restaurant reviewers Jill Dupleix and Terry Durack then came up with Appetite for Sydney, being restaurant specials over the month of July, and boy was I over the moon when I saw some of the places that were featured!
After a quick consultation on Facebook and choosing a friend (Lara Croft) to come out with me, I settled on attending Luke Mangan’s Glass Brasserie at the Hilton Hotel, Sydney, for their $39 Winter Lunch special (two courses with a glass of wine).
I deliberately chose not to make a booking for the day as:
1. It was for Monday lunch, and I seriously doubted that they wouldn’t have any walk-in seating;
2. Fine dining restaurants tend to treat you differently when they realise you’re actually there for the ‘specials’ menu, rather than the regular a la carte;
3. I wanted them to observe how old I was (22) and see whether there would be any variation in service (poor service due to my age is a constant angst of mine; I’m paying the same price, here!).
Turns out it was a very pleasant fine dining experience, and the service was faultless 🙂 When we arrived around midday, we were seated politely and immediately, no change of expression when I requested the Winter Lunch menu.
For drinks, I had the Under & Over King Valley Pinot Gris on the lunch menu. Lara Croft was on decongestants, so I asked the waiter if she could possibly have a fruit juice instead of the wine, and he was said that was more than fine. I was surprised as many restaurants get bottles of wine for free and so use them during special menus, and of course juice is never free. Lara Croft ordered a cloudy apple juice, and she declared that it tasted like a ‘very refined’ glass of apple juice.
She was really excited about the bread basket (glass bread selection with Luke Mangan olive oil), so we decided to start with that.
First of all, I have to say, the lighting in the restaurant was absolutely perfect for photography.
The bread was lovely and warm on arrival, one being plain white and the other with raisins. The olive oil was a touch bitter, and personally, I prefer to dip my bread in white truffle oil. What can I say, I have expensive tastes 😉
Our entrees arrived with a flourish and a sexy French accent from our waiter. Lara Croft had the Chicken liver parfait, with truffle butter & pear chutney.
It was quite funny as she originally thought the edges of the parfait was cheese, but when I tasted it, I declared it to be butter. She was promptly horrified and sliced it off, although she had eaten about 80 per cent of the pate already at this stage! I tried a little of the pate, never having had it before, and although it didn’t disagree with me, I don’t think I could have more than a little sliver.
I was much more interested in my own entree: Tempura zucchini flowers with corn & feta.
These two babies were the main reason I had my eye on Glass Brasserie; I’ve never had zucchini flowers in my life and I was desperate to have them! They were everything I could have hoped for, and MORE. Crispy and creamy, sweet and savoury. To die for.
Our mains took a rather long time to arrive, maybe 15 to 20 minutes or more. At this stage, the restaurant was getting pretty busy.
Lara Croft’s Chef’s Choice of Fish arrived, a fillet of Jewfish served on a bed of mashed potatoes, with capers and sauteed capsicum pieces and asparagus:
While she wasn’t unhappy with the dish, she declared the fillet itself a little bland. Upon tasting it, I agreed that the skin was nicely salted and crisp, however the fish was a little tasteless; you really needed the capers with it. Even a simple wedge of lemon served with the fish would have been a pleasant addition.
Meanwhile, I was in raptures over my pan-fried potato gnocchi with corn, asparagus, courgette, lemon thyme & Parmesan. I’ve had gluggy and gluey gnocchi at too many places, and never understood the fascination. Now I do.
The phrase ‘little pillows’ totally makes sense now. Slightly crispy on the outside, soft as a savoury marshmallow on the inside. I had been afraid that with all the potato it might be a bit bland, but with the Parmesan, it was delicious and I certainly didn’t get tired of the heap of ‘little pillows’ on my plate! Some of the pieces of asparagus were a little over-cooked and stringy, but I didn’t particularly mind.
When I returned home and looked up the Glass Brasserie a la carte menu, only then did I realise what a good deal we had claimed. On the a la carte menu, the prices were:
Chicken liver parfait: $18
Tempura zucchini flowers: $16
Gnocchi: $37 (main sized)
The chef’s fish isn’t on the a la carte menu, but you get the idea. We paid $39 each (not including the bread)!!
So what are you waiting for?? Check out Appetite for Sydney already and get out there to support the fabulous fine dining industry we have here in Sydney 🙂
Glass Brasserie Restaurant
Level 2, 488 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9265 6068