Old Jul 19, 17, 11:49 pm
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Dinner at Mercado

Lovely Spanish restaurant located in the CBD which my friends had wanted to try for quite some time.

We ordered a nice bottle of 2013 Grenache to start -- Palacios Remondo "La Montesa" if I recall correctly. While it retails normally at only $20, it was a perfectly drinkable Grenache to pair with our meal tonight.

To start, soft shell crab sliders with harissa aioli.

This was arguably our favorite dish of the night: turkish pumpkin ravioli with burnt butter and yogurt.

The sauce was so heavenly we ordered some grilled bread to mop it up. We only realized 10 minutes later as the butter coagulated on our plates we perhaps eaten 2 sticks of butter between the four of us. Oh well, when on vacation.

I will also mentioned we ordered a lovely foie grais parfait but we were so ravenous a photo was forgotten or ignored with haste as to not delay consumption from hungry hosts.

Brussel sprouts with mint oil and jamon iberico.

Braised octopus with sobrasada and olive.

Beef carpaccio with anchovy creme fraiche and caviar.

Smoked wagyu beef tongue with salsa verde and horseradish. Could have used more horseradish but was quite nice.

Good friends, good conversation, and good food rounded out the night. My friends were amazed I'd just decided to come down under 2 days before. Points life, I guess.

We decided to call it a night since I'd been up for a while and being Friday, most folks were pretty tired.

Brunch at Three Williams

The next morning I forewent the Hilton's breakfast offerings, grabbed a double short black at the EL and off to brunch we went.

Apparently winter is truffle season here in Australia (I did not know this was a thing), with many establishments having specialized menus as a result. A local favorite is Three Williams Cafe, and apparently they have one of the best truffle menus.

We all ordered our own dishes, but out of memory's sake, I photographed all of them.

The special menu.

Sweet potato truffle fries. Fries were on the soggy side, but understandable since the pile is enormous. The amount of truffles was insane. Could have used more queso sauce too, but I guess the focus here is the truffles.

Some truffle BLT toast or something or other.

Roasted peking duck truffle pasta. I had low hopes for this but was a surprisingly nice combination of flavors that worked well -- very complex and deep. Sadly, however, the pasta was overcooked.

Loaded mushroom toastie. Wish I had ordered this, as was delicious.

Truffled chicken breast (my dish). The beurre noisette was much too buttery and I had a hard time finding the jerusalem artichoke puree. However, the chicken breast was done nicely and not overcooked. That's all a man can ask for.

After brunch we drove to Bondi beach where it being off-season, the throngs of crowds had subsided and was a much more pleasant experience. We walked the Bondi-Coogee walk but only got as far as Tamarama Beach where we had some nice refreshments. We definitely are not the "rough it" type.

I ran a few errands with my friends and later in the afternoon we headed to the Grounds of Alexandria for a quick espresso and a bite to eat. I remember coming here in the Australian summer and thought "what a lovely place" but frankly overrun with people. We ate in the main restaurant and the food was of high quality but downright cold. Such a shame.

But they do have everything from an espresso bar to a market (when it's open) to a soda bar to a pizza bar, you name it. The place is very well done in a retro farm-like style but with modern twists. Well worth a visit if you are ever in Sydney.

This time we just got pastries and an espresso. For a company who started as a coffee-roaster, their espresso is surprisingly one of the most acidic ones I've had.

Menu at the pizza bar.

Pastries being hawked.

Fruit stand.

Salted caramel tart. This lacked the moistness I had envisioned but I gave it a pass since it was the end of the day. You don't really come to the Grounds for outstanding food (most of it is just passable) but rather the atmosphere and the easy accessibility of just about anything you want.

After a nice sit-around and chatting, we made our way to the Star (Sydney's casino) for a quick drink before dinner. Dinner tonight was at the Flying Fish, a quick walk from the Star.

While grabbing a drink at the Star, we diddled around with their new Game of Thrones slot machines. Not being a huge GoT fan (or rather just haven't been enlightened or addicted yet), I thought "why not?" and stuck in $20 AUD. The slots certainly were interactive, with a large three-screen display that was curved upwards about 15 feet in the air. Impressive machines to say the least.

Lo and behold, $20 AUD and some frantic button pushing later, I won a "third-tier" jackpot -- $120 AUD. Score! This would be dinner money.

Dinner at Flying Fish

This restaurant at the end of the pier near the Star doesn't receive the ravest of reviews, though my friends have had good experiences there so we decided to go for it after running out of dinner ideas.

Our waiter tonight, Jeans, was a young Frenchman who was enthusiastic about his job and all things seafood (why wouldn't you?).

We ordered a bottle of white (nice, drinkable, and dry -- all I ask for), though I can't remember specifically what it was. I was in charge of appetizers, while a friend was in charge of wine.

Bread with cultured butter to start. Butter was fabulous. Bread was dense and too chewy. I guess that's not what we're here for anyways.

Oysters for all with a "late harvest vinaigrette." Oysters were good, though being from the West Coast of North America we are quite spoiled in this department.

Yellowfin tuna, fennel mousse, puffed rice, and some other accompaniments.

Torched bonito with wakame butter. I was missing the butter as I was really looking forward to that.

Seared scallops with pork cheek and fried egg mayonnaise. Scallops were done nicely but could have used a tad bit more seasoning.

Soft shell crab handrolls. These were fine. Nothing unlike what you'd get at a casual Japanese joint.

Onto the mains.

The special of the night. Can't remember the fish varietal but was served with a dashi bone broth. Actually better than I expected.

Roasted barramundi with chickpeas, pomegranate, saffron labneh. Excellent.

Snapper fillet with jerusalem artichoke (if you are reading closely, this is the second time today I've had jerusalem artichoke), tamarind butter, and smoked almonds. The tamarind butter was again missing, and the smoked almonds tasted like your Costco Smokehouse almonds variety, but the fish was cooked nicely.

John Dory with lobster yuzu butter. Tasted no yuzu or lobster. Seeing a trend here?

Handcut chips with chili and umami salt. I think "umami salt" here just means "monosodium glutamate." Still one of the tastier things on the table.

We also ordered a baby cos lettuce salad and some green beans, but these were quite pedestrian and I didn't bother with pictures. I will note the kitchen did not trim the green beans before preparing them which I thought was a basic step in the preparation of haricot verts.

Dessert--we were stuffed but had to try this yuzu souffle. Having tried a similar dish at a French restaurant in Boston a few months prior, we were eager to see if Flying Fish could actually do it correctly (and with some yuzu flavor to be identified).

They succeeded. Strong yuzu flavor was met with proper souffle-creaminess. The matcha sorbet was to die for, though we did not need the chai cream that was served on the side.

Overall a nice dining experience with nice waitstaff and proper service. I noticed as I was writing this that it seems like Flying Fish serves nothing but "firm white fish." I suppose a little salmon on their menu couldn't hurt?

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our meal. A few areas could use some work but it's a perfectly acceptable restaurant.

Next up: SYD AKL in Air New Zealand J on the B772 and the Air New Zealand SYD Lounge
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