Saturday, October 01, 2005

One opinion goes to a city's head

It is amazing what a single travel writer's opinion from one, unqualified trip can do for a city's reputation (a bit like a food critic's opinion on his one night stand at a restaurant). Lucky we don't measure the efficacy of clinical drugs, agricultural chemicals, military armament developments or anything that really matters in the same way - check it out on a free junket trip and say it's the best there is (until the next city pays the freight for a visit). Forget the triple blind trial. This is a totally blind test.

I am not saying that Sydney is not a great place for good food but the restaurants the reporter visited were just the same old highly promoted establishments with predictable menus and a strange similarity to one another. In fact their menus could come from equivalent restaurants in many food capitals around the world. What was really different about them? Where were the really unique authentic Australian ingredients? Mentioning the restaurants using these would make Sydney special and worth visiting to dine. Had the reporter tried the carpaccio at Deep Blue Bistro in Coogee he would have really been blown away. Chef Thomas makes the absolute best use of crocodile in this dish that I have ever tried. Check out Thomas’ menu compared to the pedestrian menus our reporter found interesting …

Olive oil poached organic vine ripened tomatoes with Mintbush marinated bocconcini and micro basil
Baby rocket and Wild Rosella flower salad with Asiago and Aniseed Myrtle reduced balsamic
Ahi Tuna Tartar with avocado and a wild lime reduction
Deep Blue Crab Cake with Munthari apple slaw grapefruit reduction
Wildfire seared Sea Scallops with roasted beet carpaccio
Pan fried King Prawns and Murray River Yabbies in sugarbag honey and lemon aspen on a bed of garlic shoots
Grilled Paperbark Baby Barramundi served with sautéed prawns, wilted greens, and a sweet corn foam
Rainforest Rub Seared Salmon with grilled asparagus spears and potato fondue
Slow roast crispy skin Duck breast with sweet pea risotto and riberry jus
Chargrilled Kangaroo Loin served with pumpkin, quandong relish and pepper berry jus

For more of the offering, go to the menus at Deep Blue Bistro's website.

I must admit that their cocktails need help to yet be stunningly appealing but this is still a work in progress and add a riberry or two to a vodkatini or some wild lime to a caipirosca and the anticipation for things to come will really fire the menu.

Meanwhile, down in Redfern, above the Sky Bar on George St you’ll find Gunya Lounge and Bar with Chef Brian Campbell at the helm. This is a cut above pub food and well worth a visit. His menu is about to go through a seasonal change and I for one will be looking forward to the new menu.

Brian gave me a bunch of his sauces, preserves and syrups to taste and he was right on the nail with a bunch of them. Great taste, unique and well balanced with complementary ingredients. If this is a reflection of his place in Sydney’s dining scene then get that reporter back here and have him try some really special tastes of Sydney. Not just tourist tucker from the PR chefs.

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