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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.

Bentley Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Comments

Comment from chocolatesuze
Time June 26, 2011 at 8:57 pm

oh wow what beautiful presentations! would’ve thought bentley would be packed at lunch can’t wait to give it a try during the day!

Comment from Geoff Carroll
Time July 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Nic,

Thanks for the tip on Bentley – we’ll definitely go. And the photos are amazing!

Julie and I sat with you and Graham at the Balzac Game dinner which we thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t remember if we told you about our chickens, but you might enjoy this picture: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=237895049573579&set=a.152106614819090.26463.150779218285163&type=1&theater

Good luck with the charcuterie!!

Geoff+Julie

Comment from nic
Time July 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Thanks guys. We’ve been twice to Bentley for Saturday lunch now and it was pretty quiet both times, and both times the food was exceptional.

The photos turned out better than I thought they would as they are from my phone!

Love the chicken photo Geoff, I can’t wait to get ours sorted.

Comment from Geoff Carroll
Time July 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm

We’re getting two eggs a day now, soon to be three…. If you need super fresh eggs for one of your recipes, let us know! Poaching doesn’t require vinegar or stirring the water – the eggs just stay perfectly formed in the water. Oh, and they look and taste amazing!

Comment from Sam
Time July 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Despite previous requests there appears not to be a “Ask Nic” page. So…. Here is my question to the queen of roasts. I tried to make fancy roast potatoes by par boiling them, then popping them into a baking dish where I had heated up some oil first. Whilst I heard the initial sizzle as they hit the pan, at the end of the roasting experience all I had was some rather oily spuds. More like a really bad shallow fry. Help where did I go wrong?

Comment from nic
Time July 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Hi Sam, I will investigate the “ask Nic” idea, but until then there are two key things that make for good roasties. The first is the type of potato. They have to be floury potatoes so once you have par boiled them, you shake the pan and they go all floury. I usually use Desiree or King Edwards. The second key ingredient is the fat I’m afraid, oil just doesn’t cut it for me, so I suggest you try lard or duck fat! Coat the spuds in the pre-heated fat then cook at 200C for about 45 minutes. Let me know how it goes next time, Nic

Comment from Sam
Time July 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Thanks so much for the hints. Apparently I got the type of potato, the type of fat, the temp and the time wrong. It’s fair to say there wasn’t a step I actually got right apart from peeling them. I will let you know how I go if I ever try to be fancy again.

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