Dinner at Marque was a long time in coming. I’d tried their Friday lunch special a few years ago, but never made it for dinner, even though I lived in the same building complex for over a year, many years ago. Two special occasions combined, an anniversary and a dinner, seemed an appropriate excuse, so off we walked, all of five minutes away from our apartment to go to one of Sydney’s most celebrated fine dining restaurants.
It was dark and cool and stylish inside, and it really didn’t seem the right occasion to take photos of every course. Instead, you could make do with the menu, if you’d like…
It’s funny though. I remember the very first time I received a menu after a proper degustation, at Tetsuyas when it was in Rozelle, and it was such a surprise. It felt very special, whereas now it seems to be the standard thing to offer (meanwhile as degustation menus hit a peak and have been less and less popular the last few years as Sydney opts for slightly more casual dining).
This is also to say that we feel very jaded having eaten at so many fine dining restaurants, not only in Sydney but around the world. The novelty is certainly not there anymore. Suffice to say, the service was top notch and we appreciated the sommelier’s detailed descriptions and his passion for the matching wines, which seemed perfectly paired.
An absolute highlight was the Sauternes Custard served in an egg shell, which I’d read about in reviews. I also thought the Smoked Eel, so finely sliced with such texture and flavour for such a wafer, matched with Parmesan Gnocchi and Pumpkin was lovely as was the sweet, almost dessert-like Fraser Island Spanner Crab with Almond Gazpacho, Almond Jelly, Sweet Corn and Avruga.
I also very respect a chef who’s not shy at challenging his diners. Case in point, the Moreton Bay Bug (delicious) with Candle of Fire Radish (OK) and Saltwort, a plant that lives near the ocean in salty climes. Looks beautiful…
But yagh. I didn’t like it. Chewy and not so pleasant. S. didn’t mind the sharp mustard flavour in the wafer accompanying coconut and mango; I found it too strong. I found the quail dish prettier than it tasted.
We both agreed that the Lemon Aspen, a native berry that was brined, was pretty weird, sitting in its cultured cream and whey caramel. Also (and I remembered this from the lunch years ago), a bend towards earthy, burnt and charred flavours, rather than the sweet or oily.
It was a lovely experience with food carefully thought out and much technique shown. It requires diners not to be passive but to be adventurous and engage with the experience. I can certainly understand why it’s gotten so much praise, this restaurant, but, as you can tell, not a rave review from me. One of those times when the taste buds of the chef and myself don’t match up perfectly through no fault of either one of us.