So far, so good

February 2010

Not bad, not bad as my favourite TV curmudgeon Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) would say. It’s only February and I’ve already had two dinners worth writing about. The first, the finale to Billson’s Cuisine Now at Doltone House featuring the food of most of the chefs in that event. Standout dishes for me were Michel Roux’s Pacific oysters “on a mirror of ginger and cucumber” — a plump and perfect bivalve floating on an intense ginger jelly studded with tiny dice of cucumber. Perfection of flavour and texture on a plate — and I usually hate fiddled-with oysters. And Philippe Mouchel’s parmesan custard, slow poached egg and chicken consommé — what a breakfast that would have made with toasted sourdough. It was a good night with a lack of the usual pomposity and boring speeches, lots of fun and good entertainment, including Paul Capsis. Bravo, Cuisine Now team. Go to the website and sign up for more info: www.cuisinenow.com.au.

And then the quiet achiever, Bistro Ortolan (134 Marion Street Leichhardt, Ph 9568 4610). I went with a few friends and had the degustation. I’d have to say I’ve rarely eaten that sort of food better anywhere in Sydney. And what sort is that? Clever combinations of flavour and texture, beautifully presented with more than a nod to the French masters. Chef Paul McGrath is Irish and from there he gets his love of fine fresh produce. From his time in Europe and in great kitchens in Australia, he gets his technique. The crepinette of flounder with seared Hervey Bay scallops, foie gras butter and summer greens — including the sweetest baby peas — was a triumph. $110 a head for nine courses, coffee and petits fours, and a very smart wine list.

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