I know that technically we aren't in a recession but from all reports and behaviours, the restaurant scene is indeed experiencing one. A friend works at one of the top restaurants in Sydney and she told me that patronage is down a whopping 70% at her restaurant. Add to this the specials coming thick and fast, from March into Merivale, Glass, Marque, Bentley, Foveaux and Quay offering their own version of the Parisian style set lunch. And we are more the happier for it.
Today I'm lunching with Mr Gatsby who, being a keen food lover, has alerted me to what has to be Sydney's best lunch deal. For $30 on a Friday, you can get a 3 course meal at the one hatted Assiette restaurant. Yes. Three courses. And they're goodies too. I was looking forward to this having tried Assiette's loin and crumbed belly of lamb with basil mayonnaise and a tomato olive jus at the Taste of Sydney event.
The kitchen-yes that's the entire space!
I'm struck at how small the kitchen is. It's a room that seats 50 and the kitchen seems tiny for the amount of people that they would need to cook for. Mr Gatsby assures me that it indeed proceeds at a flaming pace on a booked up Saturday night.
We're shown 3 menus, the a la carte, the degustation and the Prix Fixe menu for $30. The Prix Fixe menu has some fine sounding dishes there so we order that happy in the knowledge that no children or bodily organs will need to be sold to pay for this. The menu appears to be Modern Australian ingredients with French techniques.
The crunchy sourdough bread is warm and in the traditional sourdough pointed shape.
Sweet corn and basil veloute
We're served our entrees. Mine is a creamily delicious corn veloute with tiny basil croutons floating on top and finished with a basil oil. It's delicious and I spoon this slowly and appreciatively.
Thai style crispy pork with chili lime dressing
Mr Gatsby says that his asian style salad with coriander and green salad leaves is delicious and succulent and I love the distinct layer of crispy crackling.
Confit of chicken leg with polenta and field mushrooms
Our mains arrive and mine is the confit of chicken on creamy polenta with field mushrooms. It's a mouth watering sight and I take my requisite photos quickly so that I can partake of it. The chicken is delicious, crisped brown skin on top,the meat tender as tender can be and the creamy polenta field mushrooms are a perfect accompaniment.
Mussel, spring onion and broadbean risotto with herbed sour cream
Mr Gatsby's risotto with mussels is I'm told a winner. The risotto grains have a little bite back and it appears rich with mussels. So far, great.
Mango Eton Mess with mango sorbet
A little break and our desserts arrive. Mine is the Mango Eton Mess which I am very pleased to see has crunchy meringue pieces submerged under thick cream, mango slices and a small ball or mango sorbet. It's decadent and creamy and sweet, all you could dream of in a dessert.
Selection of fruit sorbets
And before I've finished half of mine, Mr Gatsby has finished off his sorbets pushing away his martini glass with a "that was really good" exclaim. They're roughly the size of golf balls and the creamy lime ice cream is one that he particularly notes as being good.
Yes, $30 for 3 fabulous courses is indeed the best deal to be had. Let's hope more restaurants follow suit.
48 Albion St, Surry Hills, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 7979
Lunch: Friday, 12pm 3pm
Dinner: Tuesday Saturday, from 6pm