Sometimes I find that when a restaurant in Sydney has a view, the food doesn't often match up to it and that the view is considered sufficient candy for the eyes whereas the mouth is left lacking. With so many restaurants with a view in Sydney, I find this to be the case in some. But if a restaurant can nail the food and the view, it can't help but be successful.
Head Chef Nathan Darling
Winemaker David Bicknell
Tonight Mr NQN and I are crossing the bridge to visit Sails in McMahons Point which sits right opposite Luna Park with the Harbour Bridge on the right. Tonight is one of four wine dinners that they hold a year where they pair up a four course menu with matching wines and tonight is Oakridge Wines from the Yarra Valley in Victoria. The head chef Natahn Darling comes out and explains the food to us and then the Wine Maker David Bicknell explains the wine matching to us. In two courses we actually have two wines which is very generous. the cost is $120 per person.
We start off with an amuse bouche, a mushroom arancini ball which is hot, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Delicious. I hunt around for some more to no avail.
Queensland Tiger prawn, king crab and tomato jelly, chilled lettuce soup paired with an Oakridge Fume Blanc
Deborah who is sitting at our table takes a spoonful and says "It tastes like salad but it is the texture of a soup" and she is right. The smoothly textured chilled lettuce soup is paired with a king crab meat and tomato water suspended swirling in a jelly and there is a whole Queensland tiger prawn. They explained to us that these are a new farmed prawn from the Gold Coast and is a result of a 10 year collaboration between them and the CSIRO to create the "perfect tiger prawn". I have to say that the prawn is absolutely fantastic with a very rich and strong flavour. The whole dish is finished off with a basil chiffonade and shiso leaves. The Fume blanc is a popular white wine and is 11.5% alcohol so it is much lighter and more drinkable.
Pan fried "wild river" barramundi, du puy lentils, tarragon, jamon, creme fraiche served with 2008 Chardonnay and 2008 Pinot Noir
Despite the name of "wild river" this is actually a farmed barramundi. It is pan fried in clarified butter and served as a slender fillet on a bed of du puy lentils braised in apple vinegar which are always lovely as they don't go soggy. There is some tarragon but a strong aniseed and fennel flavour to this too. There are also tiny pieces of jamon and a quennelle of creme fraiche on the side. And despite the fact that I don't often go for red I really adore the 2008 Pinot Noir with this-I guess it's not just whites that go with fish and this Pinot Noir has a rich almost honeyed aroma and taste to it as soon as I lift the glass to my nose.
Confit Duck leg, smoked eggplant puree, roast tomatoes, spinach, balsamic jus served wtih 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2008 "864" Pinot Noir
What ends up being most people's favourite dish of the night is the confit of duck leg which is done slightly different than usual (which is done in a big tray). Here they are vacuum packed and placed in a 80°c steamer for 10-12 hours and then roasted in a pan skin side down. This gives the skin a gorgeous crispiness but the meat a lovely fall apart consistency. It's paired with a smoked eggplant puree which is like a baba ganoush, some roast cherry tomatoes on the vine and wilted spinach and a balsamic jus. The wine matchings again are fantastic-have I suddenly turned into a red wine lover?
Black forest Chocolate Terrine, sour cherry sorbet 2005 "864" Shiraz
Our last course is the dessert course of a black forest terrine which is studded with sour cherries with a chocolate sponge on the outside and a 72% chocolate mousse on the inside. It is topped with a sour cherry sorbet and a slice of vanilla bean pannacotta. I love sour cherries but the duck confit filled me up a little too much so Mr NQN is the grateful recipient of the remaining half of my dessert.
There were coffee and petit fours-naughty Mr NQN ran off to photograph the restaurant from the outside so he missed the petit fours which were chocolate and orange pistachio ganache truffles and an almond biscotti. Oddly, when you have a truffle followed by a bite of the biscotti the first thing you taste is...froot loops! Crazy but true ;)
We did answer the question about the food matching the view. Does it? Absolutely!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you found a restaurant where the food matches the view?
NQN and Mr NQN dined as guests of Sails
2 Henry Lawson Avenue, McMahons Point NSW
Tel: + 61 (02) 9955 5998