Monday, 19 October 2015

Tetsuya's 'Happy Birthday Me'**

Tetsuya's Chocolate Cake-complete with gold birthday candle.

For Mark's Christmas bonus he was given a gift voucher to Tetsuya's, which we have been waiting for a time when I wasn't pregnant and our second baby was old enough to be left with family to care for her, so that we could cash it in. This coincided nicely with my birthday...kind of fitting since I took Mark there for his birthday twelve years ago when we were just kids.

We have a six month old and a two year old at the moment and it is far to say that I was due for a holiday, so we decided to make a 'staycation' out of it, which meant we were in walking distance to the restaurant. It was a lovely spring night, and we were lucky to just get a few spots of rain on us before we were welcomed at the restaurant. As we walked into the dining room we were both surprised by how things had changed and how commercial the space had become. Our previous dining experience at Tetsuya's (although more than a decade ago) was in a much more intimate room with fewer tables and the most comfortable armchairs for seats. The room on Thursday night was full, and whilst the chairs were nice leather chairs that we were happy to sit in for hours, we didn't warm to the change. After the second course we both confessed our initial disappointment and that we had quickly gotten over it and were having a great time.....talking to your husband, I mean really talking can be an amazing thing, just ask someone with children who hasn't made time for a date night in way too long.

As the waiter brought butter to the table I could smell the truffle in it before its presence was even announced....seriously, I must have been a truffle dog in a previous life, I'm a fiend for it. We were given the option of delicious dirty white bread or a grainy bread and I straight away went for white and then coated the truffle butter on like slices of cheese. I couldn't get enough of the stuff! When the waiter came around after a few courses and asked if we would like some more bread we went for the grainy stuff....but I'd gone so nuts with the butter that they also brought us more butter. On the third offering of more bread I think our waiter was a bit dumbfounded when we said "yes please" and we quickly informed him that if he didn't give us more bread we were going to eat the truffle butter with a spoon. Seriously, I could live on that stuff. The rest of the meal was pretty great too.

Happy birthday me-my gift from the staff
since it was kinda obvious that I had an obsession.

We started our meal with the optional pacific oysters with ginger & rice vinegar which were spectacular, the quality of them really proved how our seafood industry works-the restaurants get the cream of the crop, the next tier gets shipped overseas and then we enjoy what is left. The ginger and rice vinegar dressing prepared our palates nicely for the light and fresh meal that was to come.

Entree was silken potato with bottarga and egg yolk which didn't sound or look all that amazing. I had to ask what 'bottarga' was, and from the waiters reaction I've assumed that not many people ask, or maybe I'm just an uneducated full time mum these days that doesn't know a thing. Basically bottarga is salted, cured fish roe and it is rather tasty, in case you didn't know. The boring sounding and looking dish pleasantly surprised me with its flavour.

The next course of Hiramasa kingfish with salt bush & shiso relish melted timelessly away in my mouth, but this isn't surprising considering the way shiso speaks to me. It was followed by another favourite poached New Zealand scampi tail with bread sauce don't ask me what bread sauce is, just accept that it is tasty and that carbs are good for you.

Then came the restaurants' "signature dish", seriously, do the waiters have to tell you such wanky stuff as that? Maybe I would have enjoyed the course more if it wasn't talked up to be so amazing. It was sweet to see that the young waiter was so proud of the confit of petuna ocean trout, and we did thoroughly enjoy it, but it wasn't our favourite dish of the night. The crust on top seemed much more complex than our memories from twelve years ago, however, we did end up swishing sparkling water around our mouths in order to get rid of the little particles of crust that were embedded in our teeth-très posh!

Confit of petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple & unpasteurised ocean trout roe.

Mulloway with sea cucumber and parsnip followed and it was divinely complex. The soft mulloway with the slightly crunchy sea cucumber and the deliciously light and zesty broth was spectacular. I wanted more.

Mulloway with sea cucumber & parsnip.

The following course was easily Mark's and my favourite. Duck breast with orange, caramelised witlof and Tasmanian pepper berries was so complex, and such a delicious light, modern take on the French classic.....I just might be inspired to attempt cooking it something similar soon, since life with a seven month old baby is so much easier than life with a one month old baby (I say that now, worrying that I'm shooting myself in the foot).

Duck breast with orange, caramelised witlof & Tasmanian pepper berries.

Ranger's Valley beef cheeks with roasted celeriac and pickled Jerusalem artichokes was the next course, and writing this more than a week later (sick two year old) I really can't think of what to say about it. Obviously it wasn't that exciting, nor un-enjoyable. Sorry beef cheeks, next time I will do my best to take notes, mummy brain memory is a shocker at the best of times.

First dessert was poached pear, butter milk and hazelnut which was presented so simply and gorgeously with a makeshift stem on top. I've eaten a few poached pears in my time, but this one really packed a lot of flavour, which was also well complemented by the matching wine.

Poached Pear, Butter Milk and Hazelnut.

Second dessert had to be chocolate, Tetsuya's Chocolate Cake, not that I would describe it as a cake at all, it was smooth, and mousse like in texture and just melted in my mouth, reminding me of coveteur chocolate that I ate in Paris. But the dessert wine that was served with this was something else! As the 1986 Toro Albala Gran Reserva Pedro Ximenez, Montilla-Moriles from Spain was being poured into the glass my senses went crazy, the aroma gently wofted across the table and settled under my nose and I inhaled deeply, waiting for my glass to be filled so I could take a sip. It was the perfect end to the meal....might just put a bottle of that on the Christmas wish list.

What was our overall feeling of the evening? The wait staff this time around didn't have us feeling anywhere near as welcome as we did when we were children. As eighteen year olds we were never made to feel like we couldn't afford something, yet when we said we were going to enjoy the matching wines (without looking at the wine list) the water said "that is $110 per head, would the sir be OK with that?". Yes, the sir (and I) would be OK with that, what we wouldn't be OK with was his attitude, and this was before we even mentioned that we had a gift voucher. Luckily we both agreed to put that misdemeaner behind us and move on. There were many other friendly interactions with the waiters, as we joked about inhaling the truffle butter and the night went fairly smoothly, however, our coffees were brought to the table before dessert, which isn't a big deal, but Mark doesn't deal too well with change, and considering there is a program to stick to it was an unexpected mistake....once the oversight was identified we were offered another coffee, of course with no reference to the error-yes, we noticed, we're not as bogan as we look, my toddler just stole my husband's fancy shoes and socks out of our bag. Overall we had an enjoyable evening, but would we spend our own money on that experience? Hells NO!

Degustation menu with matching wines.

*Note to self-next time we dine out somewhere fancy, mention that we only want two bottles of sparkling water and then we will be happy to have tap water, because my tummy just doesn't need all that extra fizz.
**Happy Birthday Me is what Lara says when she is opening her presents, which she had weeks of doing.

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