For those who are regular followers of the blog, you will know that I’ve already reviewed this restaurant on two occasions: my first visit back in May 2012, and then a slightly more recent diner in March this year. Both meals were absolute highlights for me and I dearly love the venue. Tucked away a little while from the main hustle and bustle of Circular Quay, it’s an intimate and quiet little restaurant that uses seasonal ingredients in such a simple way, yet what emerges is nothing short of the standard of a hatted premises.
Thus when the owner of Selah invited me and a guest to sample the work of their new chef, Andrew Barkham, for the restaurant’s 10th birthday in May, how could I resist?
The Sister and I had a 6.30pm booking for dinner and the restaurant was mostly empty at this time. Over the course of the Wednesday evening, the restaurant proceeded to get full to capacity and from what I saw, some people had to be turned away. So keep in mind – a reservation is essential, particularly on Friday and weekend nights!
Anyway, back to the food. I had had a look through the new menu before the night and the British influence of the new chef clearly shone through, with Andrew having previously held a Head Chef role at the one Michelin star ‘Rhodes 24’ in London. Black pudding, ham hock and Brussel’s sprouts? All sounded great to me.
For entrees I had ordered the Seared scallops, cauliflower, black pudding and apple salad ($22). I’ve recently discovered the delights of black pudding and was interested to see how it paired with scallops, which is usually matched with other pork products such as bacon or pancetta.
Seared to perfection, the scallops were silky and tender, perfect with the salty, meaty tang of the slice of black pudding sausage. With a smear of buttery cauliflower puree and refreshing slivers of apple, it was a fabulously well-rounded little entree to start the meal.
The Sister on the other hand, is a duck-lover and couldn’t go past the Crispy duck hash, duck egg dressing and honey mustard zucchini ($19).
We originally were very curious as to what a ‘duck hash’ was and was told that it was really sort of like a hash brown – but with delicately torn pieces of cooked confit duck and creamy mashed potato. Could it be possible that the humble hash brown could be made even more delicious?
We thought so. The thinly sliced bed of zucchini ribbons were also dressed in a light honey mustard vinaigrette which was very refreshing and took off the slight oiliness of the duck hash. The Sister loved the generous scatter of micro-herbs, which is quite characteristic of Selah dishes.
For our mains I was originally eyeing up the Roasted chicken breast with black garlic butter, Brussel’s sprouts, crispy smoked salmon and parsley, but I was in a more carnivorous mood and so decided to go for the Fillet of beef tenderloin, red wine and plum cabbage, roasted garlic and horseradish hollandaise ($38).
The fillet was perfectly cooked to my request for medium-rare.
The Sister was a bit apprehensive as it was a bit rare to her liking, but after some persuasion on my behalf she sampled the meat and deemed it ‘beautiful’. And beautiful it was, barely requiring much effort from my steak knife. Seasoned well, it was one of the most tender and flavoursome steaks I’ve had, and didn’t require the horseradish hollandaise, which I found a little overpowering for the steak. A lighter Bearnaise may have suited better.
She on the other hand, had selected the Fillet of bar cod with borlotti beans, chorizo, parsley and red pepper jus ($36).
A very thick fillet of white fish, it had a steaky yet creamy texture not unlike barramundi but with a much milder flavour that we both enjoyed. With crispy skin, chunks of spicy chorizo and the soft beans in the slightly sweet red pepper jus, it was a perfect dish for the cooler weather.
As a side, we also enjoyed the Baby cos lettuce and blue cheese dressing ($9). Well, I probably enjoyed it more than The Sister, due to my recent love affair with gorgonzola! A rich and flavoursome salad – it’s not for the light-hearted!
Hmmmm so now it’s time for the hard decision. Dessert.
Earlier, I had seen a photo of the Iced banana mousse, peanut crisps & coconut sorbet ($15) on Urbanspoon and it had been presented so beautifully that I decided that I just had to sample it. I can never resist pretty desserts.
The round of banana mousse was flavoursome, smooth and incredibly light. Light is a matter of comparison however, and once I tasted the coconut sorbet it re-set my definition of what can be described as ‘light’. I have no more words for that heavenly sorbet.
With pieces of tasty caramelised banana and that gorgeously crunchy peanut crisp atop the banana mousse, this was a refined adult rendition of a childhood combination favourite.
Luckily for me, the Sister had gone for my other option, the Dark chocolate fondant, passion fruit ice cream & hot chocolate sauce ($15).
The hot chocolate sauce was brought to the table in a little milk beaker with the fondant and poured over it, before we were invited to dip our fingers into the beaker if we so chose (and so I did).
While it probably wasn’t a true fondant in the sense that it oozed when it was cut, it was certainly soft and moist enough for our liking and the deliciously dark chocolate sauce more than compensated for runny innards. As a chocolate cake, it was sinfully divine and the passion fruit ice cream balanced out its richness perfectly.
And to finish, The Sister and I had a pot of tea each – a particularly lovely Lemon Garden blend for her, and a more soothing Peppermint for myself.
Overall – a simply gorgeous meal. It’s wonderful that even with the change of chef and new influences to their menu, Selah has continued to retain its philosophy of using good-quality, seasonal ingredients that is cooked and presented in a manner that highlights their freshness and true characteristics. I can’t wait to see how Selah develops and flourishes over the next year.