The only thing more fabulous than a Champagne Bar is possibly arriving in time to enjoy it and not misreading an invitation. So begins my dilemma when I arrive at what I think is the right time of 7:30pm only to learn that the launch of Etch's Champagne Bar has been going since 6pm. "I'm fashionably late right?" I offer up feebly knowing that fashionably late doesn't involve arriving right the end.
But all is not lost because I still have some champagne and cocktails and following on from the cocktails is dinner at Etch. When offered a choice of cocktails including Pepper Berry Martini (sloe gin, black pepper infused vodka and summer berries), St Clements Bells (Aperol, Vanilla Absolut Vodka, Absolut Citron and a lemon ice block for a swizzle stick), Apple Sherbert (Absolut Vodka, green apples, star anise infused vodka and sherbert) and Perrier Jouet Champagne.
Did someone say apple cocktail? I go straight for the delicious apple cocktail which has a slight Asian flavour to it from the star anise. It's a stunning space with a Florence Broadhurst-esque rug, custom made panels, silvery velvet chairs and Venetian glass. Becca and I are then led to our table and the waitress asks us if we'd like to choose or would we like Justin to make up some courses for us. Justin then comes over and asks us if we'd like 5 or 10 degustation sized courses. As I've had a weekend full of food, I go with Becca's suggestion.
Marinated Hiramasa Kingfish, carrot escabeche, Champagne vinaigrette
I've had a similar dish with the Hiramasa Kingfish here and it has a really gorgeously pure flavour. Escabeche is similar to ceviche where an item is cooked in acids or vinegars. Here, in a visual mindtrick where you think you're being served beetroot, purple carrots are pickled in a vinegar.
Local mushroom tortellini, Madeira consomme, sauteed mushrooms
Becca's dish of choice was the consomme and it's gloriously deep with that fabulous Madeira flavour, mushrooms and a plump tortellini filled with finely diced mushrooms.
Pan roasted Queensland scallops, cauliflower puree, bhaji, curry oil
When they set this down in front of us I immediately inhale deeply at the fragrant Indian spices. The scallops are juicy and is accompanied by a silky puree, a deep fried bhaji and is drizzled with curry oil.
Crispy spiced duck, watermelon, cucumber, black bean vinaigrette
Now only yesteday I had 6 courses of Peking Duck so the idea of having more duck alarmed me a little. And whilst I do like watermelon salad I haven't seen it used in many other dishes apart from with feta so I was very curious to see whether it would a) work with duck and b) my body would protest at eating more duck. Thankfully the juicy, sweet watermelon cubes and asian style cucumber salad went well with the slightly dry, spicy duck.
Local mulloway, crumbed scampi, fennel puree, citrus a la Grecque
The petite piece of mulloway was cooked so that it retained a juiciness whilst being cooked through and the tiny crumbed scampi and triangles of fennel provided a nice contrast to the creamy fennel puree.
Roasted short rib of beef, spinach, glazed royal blues, horesradish
I adore short rib and this portion of it was deceivingly rich. The horseradish was light and it sat in a fine spinach puree with sauteed spinach on top and a little royal blue potato baton. It's an exercise in richness and quality over quantity.
Lobster Omelette Thermidor
My only request was the Lobster Thermidor omelette. This was eggy and rich with a creamy thermidor sauce although I don't really find many lobster chunks in it. It's also deceptively rich and after the preceding courses it may have been a bit ambitious but I muster strength and finish it all. Six ducks? What ducks?
Fougerus, pickled watermelon
The Fougerus is a rich, runny Brie-like French cheese accompanied with pickled watermelon which is a tangy, sweet watermelon served on a triangle of lavosh style cracker. I always like a touch of sweetness with cheese either be it by muscatels, figs or quince paste and this gives it an added tangy dimension along with the sweetness.
Chocolate and Peanut butter Mille feuille, manuka honey marshmallow
The dessert I wanted to try because I do happen to love chocolate and peanut butter together was the mille feuille. It's a crisp lace biscuit for the mille feuille pastry and a light peanut butter and chocolate filling. I love the lightness of it as it comes at the end of quite a few courses. The manuka honey marshmallow is a small thimble sized toasted marshamallow and it also comes with a manuka honey sorbet which is strong in the distinctive manuka honey flavour.
Caramel Date Tart, burnt butter ice cream, Earl Grey tea syrup
One of my favourite desserts last time was the Caramel Date Tart with a rich burnt butter ice cream with Earl Grey tea syrup as it hits two of my favourite things to eat: burnt butter and Earl Grey tea. The tart is sweet and eggy with a caramel flavour._
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever get invitations totally mixed up? I once arrived at a midnight preview screening of Blair Witch Project one day late as the time on the ticket confused me.
NQN dined as a guest of Etch Dining.
62 Bridge Street, Sydney CBD, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9247 4777