You know that time I’m talking about.
You’ve barely given much thought about it, and yet the time gradually creeps up on you.
Then you go, ‘Oh no! I had no idea’ and there’s a scramble to take leave from work and make plans for the day.
And then there’s the inevitable: ‘So what do you want for your birthday?’
That time is fast approaching for me, just next week. But my sister had a more specific question in mind for me after dinner tonight:
‘Where do you want to go for lunch on your birthday?’
She knows me too well…!
So while I’m currently tossing up between Public Dining Room and Sails at Lavender Bay, I couldn’t help but remember the marvellous first time degustation dinner experience I had as my birthday present last year. And what made it extra-marvellous?
Why, because it was seven courses of dessert, of course! Sweet Disposition Dinner was its name.
The blessed occasion of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Crave Sydney International Food Fesitval Month falls on October each year, and I remember flicking through the program last year and finding that dinner. Well, with my little foodie brain in the making, I just had to ask for it, didn’t I? I usually don’t tend to go to restaurants that only have degustation menus as I’m a fan of bistro-style, hearty amounts of food where you actually get bang for your buck instead of an itsy-bitsy mouthful that leaves you wanting more. But with dessert it’s a completely different story, babes.
While this occurred B.B. (Before Blog), I found the photos and the memories are so vivid that I cannot help myself but to write about it… and not to mention give the place a positive review!
The Bather’s Pavilion Restaurant is located right on Balmoral Beach, with a glorious, sprawling view of the water. When my sister made a reservation and asked if she could possibly have a window table as it was a special occasion, she got an abrupt ‘We’ll see what we can do, but can’t gurantee anything’ before she was hung up on.
With some trepidation, we turned up in the early evening and was delighted to discover that service wasn’t abrupt in the slightest, and yes, we had a window table! I greatly enjoyed the looks of envy I was thrown by the patrons who had arrived earlier yet were seated in the aisle. Heh heh heh.
There was an absolutely gorgeous view from our seat. There was no background music in the restaurant on the night, which was a little eerie. The tablecloth was pristine, and my sister and I were greatly intrigued by the awesome candle. I immediately went to work perusing the menu for the night.
The first course was a Strawberry and Lychee Consomme, with Champagne Savarin & White Balsamic Powder.
At that stage I’d never even heard of what a Savarin was (this was before Matt Moran demo-ed it on Masterchef) and was delighted to discover that it was a little cake made of champagne. While I’m normally not a fan of lychee at all, I hoovered up the consomme like a thirsty child and the balsamic powder added a tang not unlike sherbert.
Second course was a Peach and Yoghurt Parfait, with Almond Nougatine & Apricot Creme. The parfait was deliciously icy and smooth, while my sister and I were in raptures over the crispy nougatine.
Third course: Caramelised White Chocolate, with Apple Tart Tartin & Lime Sherbert. We were instructed by the waiter to eat the spoonful of sherbert first, which was a much tastier and more concentrated version of Whizz Fizz, before we dug into the little quenelle of white chocolate & apple ice cream with gusto. The miniature tart tatin was trés adorable, and crispy perfection.
I found the fourth course a little bland. Pineapple Carpaccio, with Lemon Verbena Sorbet & Frozen Lemon Marshmallow. This was supposed to be a palate cleanser more than anything, and it did its job, no doubt about that with all the lemon! Icy and citrus-y.
The fifth course was the one that had my sister and I both worried the most. Roasted Baby Beetroot, with Goats Cheese & Walnut Crumble. Neither of us like beetroot, and in this case the beetroot tasted like it had been cooked in a lot of vinegar. Does this count as dessert or is this cheating?? We weren’t enjoying the dish until we took an element from each part of the dish and had it all together, and then we went ‘Ohhhhh.’ It made sense with the balance of sweet, sour and savoury, but it wasn’t a hit with either of us.
Six course and holding on by a thread: Honey & Milk Mousse, with Mango Brulee and Cara Crakine Crunch, served with Cracked Cacao Nib & Vanilla Sea Salt. We were looking forward to this dish the most. And what a finale! Although what’s with the foam? Somewhat reminded me of lots of spit bubbles, pardon the imagery.
We had little bowls of cracked cacao nib and vanilla-infused sea salt brought to our table and were invited to add as much as we liked to our own taste. Without a doubt this was my favourite dish of the night, sweet mango, smooth chocolate mousse – it was divine! It was quite big though, and considering how sweet it was, three-quarters of it would have sufficed, but we persevered, because when life throws delicious food at you, you have no choice but to eat it.
And seventh course is takeaway: Banana Caramel Bar or Nougat Bar. By this time I was all sweetened-out; an absolute first for me.
On the drive home, my sister and I gave each other furtive looks before we agreed to go to the KFC drive-thru. We were in desperate need of some sodium. A lovely restaurant, and one in which I wouldn’t hesitate to go to if I were in the area and up for some relaxed fine dining. Beautiful view at night from the top balcony of the restaurant, if you can gain access.
4 The Esplanade, Balmoral NSW 2088
(02) 9969 4628