Sydney’s Best Kept Secret
I love fine dining, I am starting to develop an unhealthy obsession with chef’s hats and tasting menus but unfortunately my speech pathology salary doesn’t really match my fine dining habit. This has lead me to be a little creative, seeking out such experiences in a more affordable fashion: presenting Bentley Restaurant and Bar. Yes it has two chefs hats, so you should need to book weeks in advance to get a table, but no. Bentley opens for lunch, and has an awesome lunch time special. A five course tasting menu for a mere $55. This is two hat dining for a fraction of the cost. The other benefit of eating at Bentley on a Saturday lunch time is you have the place to yourself, there was us and another couple, which meant we had the undivided attention of our waiter.
So what did we eat?
We started the lunch with octopus. Not usually my favourite, and certainly something I have never ordered before, as I always have a fear that it will be rubbery. But this was deliciously tender circles of octopus tentacle, served with an almond and garlic puree. The combination of the slightly acidic octopus with the garlic puree was a winner, and possibly the finest dish of the day.
Pumpkin custard with pumpkin seed and goat curd was the second dish of the day. Pumpkin custard? Thankfully not actually a custard; I’m not a fan of custard and disguising it in a savoury dish would not normally fool me. But this was actually pretty tasty. If I were writing the menu I would have called it pumpkin puree, as there was nothing eggy or milky about it. The pumpkin was a smooth, savoury, splodge, which was offset nicely with the crunch of the pumpkin seed. The goat curd was delicious, but there was no where near enough of it for me. The tartness of the goats curd cut the=rough the sweetness of the pumpkin perfectly the the ratio was out and I would have gladly eaten half the pumpkin and twice the goat curd, but still delicious all the same.
Moving on to the fish course. Nothing extraordinary, but a perfectly executed poached kingfish. I was also pleased that it was a generous portion, filling enough to not leave me wanting more. Paired with celeriac was an excellent winter combination. I always thought celeriac was a robust vegetable that should be paired with meat, but it was the perfect accompaniment to the kingfish on a Sydney winter Saturday.
The meat course? Pork belly of course. No winter degustation menu is complete without the requisite pork belly. Unfortunately I find it difficult to find a restaurant that can serve a roast pork belly that beats mine. Most people can achieve the meltingly tender pork, but practically no-one can achieve the light and crispy crackling. And today was no different, a delicious cube of meltingly tender pork belly, but it lacked the all important crispy crackling. I can however forgive them as the rhubarb and mushroom was an innovative accompaniment that wouldn’t come out of my kitchen.
And for dessert, a caramelised pineapple with barley cream and beer sorbet. definitely not something I would choose if given the choice, but when it’s handed to you on a plate, it’s a little rude not to try. Amazingly I finished the plate. If I’m being really honest I didn’t even want to try the beer sorbet, but sometimes the social pressure of a situation overrides my food rules, so I tried it. The beer sorbet didn’t taste like beer should taste in my head. And I shouldn’t sound surprised, but it went really well with the pineapple. I had no preconceived ideas of how barley cream should taste, so that was fine.
So there you have it, a five course, two chef hat experience for $55. A bargain at twice the price, you’d be crazy not to try it.