Oh, yes...it may now be entered on level 42, but this is 41 Restaurant, and this is how we do Good Old Fashioned Excess, Dynasty Style. Forget sustainable development, recycling, global warming and camper brand shoes, this is another philosophy all together, so don some fur, put on a knuckle buster of a diamond (or two), and join me way, way, way up above all the working people...Up above the ground and just below the heavens where it's always dizzyingly divine to be human, and have a hellishly good time of it. The spirit of the 80's is well and truly alive and kicking up here. Shush...I won't hear a word about cost, cause it is, always has been and always will be: worth. every. cent.
That's Tristan, New Zealand born and sourdough bred. This is probably the last place in Sydney you'd expect to find a mad League fan, but that's exactly what he is. Tristan is the man, cool, calm, collected, always ready with a witty comment and a bang on recommendation from the menu, if you're lucky enough to have him waiting on you, don't jip yourself of the opportunity to chew a bit of the old (wagyu) fat, especially if you're a Warriors fan. Tristan is one of the reasons that even though i'll try every snazzy dig that opens its gilt doors, nothing ever excites me more than looking forward to a lazy lunch amidst the drunken view, sipping on an expansive red in the other worldly ambience that 41 dishes up better than any where else, I had my 21st birthday here, and I just keep coming back. No risks, no flavour contortionists, just the solid classics, with a spike of Asian and a Smack of French. Most top end lunch places are too busy trying to impress that they sometimes forget you're there to be fed, not this place, come one, come all, and most of all, come hungry.
Like a temptress cavorting scantily clad at you from a bluging glass, this little wonder involves some Vine Ripened Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella, Olives and Crisp Zucchini flower. D is for delicate, D is for Delightful, D is for Delicious, D is for Don't you dare expect to share any of mine. This is just a tongue bound dream to behold. Wonderfully sweet and supple tomato writhing against some achingly creamy buffalo mozzarella, it's honestly enough to drive you mad. The lightness and coolness of the tomatoycheesey swirl is under the impressive command of the hothothotsaltiness of the zucchini flower. This is one to relish.
Or perhaps mademoiselle would prefer some Oriental Duck Conssome? A steamy, yielding broth of weaving asian flavour, light and salty, with some crunchy enevlopes of succulent roast duck spring rolls on the side. These aren't the kind you'll find at your local takeaway chook shop next to some Chiko rolls, they're the real, glorious deal. Danny ordered these, generously gave me a teeny taste and took the photo.
Like three little piggies waiting for they're house to be blown down, these Grilled Sea Scallops pretended not to be quaking in their boots as I menacingly snapped away at them before devouring them AND their Cauliflower Puree, Tapenade and Green Apple Reduction. Yum, Yummier, Yummiest. Beautiful flavour, a nice oiliness tempered by the sharpness of the apple.
At this point, the ladies of the group went to do a bit of a proverbial nose powdering. The Ladies Loo just makes you rethink the possibilities of what a bathroom can be, peeing can wait, this view has to be taken in at once. That's the view from the front window, fellas, almost worth getting Sex Reassignment Surgery for, isn't it? There's a lovely little table with two little seats, just perfect for resting after you've freshened up, basking in yet another of the God Given advantages of being female. But don't rest too long, those mains are probably waiting.
That's the Grain fed Fillet of Beef with Baby Spinach and Creamed Potatoes, and the Pepper Jus which Danny decided to pair it with. I have tried better steak at 41, but this was still divine. I was very annoyed that Dan was sitting at the other end of the table and that his creamed potatoes were beyond my easy grasp. Potatoes at 41 are divine, whether they chip them, mash them, or roast them. Someone in the kitchen knows more than I will ever know about what to do with Potatoes.
...And also with Salmon. Slow Cooked Tasmania Salmon, this was simply delicious, this is one of the other places besides Garfish where I never hesitate to order the fish, never overcooked, always delicate, always swimming with flavour, it's melt in your mouth fish. It was some kind of risotto that this came with, I can't remember, I was very polite and didn't yank any to try off Joelle's plate (if you really want to know what kind of risotto it was, I guuuuess I can make another trip for you)...
But i'd have a hard time, a very hard time not ordering this Barramundi again. I am a sucker for Barra, my favourite fish, this was just beautiful. The well grilled skin was salty and rich against the delicate juicy Barramundi flesh, the fish literally flakes apart when you put the fork to it, that's how subtle it is. The little wilted greens under the belly and the lovely creamy reduction gave just enough added headiness to a very delicate meal. I am drooling looking at this picture and remembering.
Dad loves 41 more than anyone I know, maybe even more than me. He is five foot two, so imagine his joy at being 42 levels above most other people in Sydney, it's a Short Mans Ultimate Revenge. He adores the food, I have taken Dad to Tetsuya's a couple of times, while he enjoys it, he always jokes that he needs to stop at McDonald's drive through on the way home. 41 is his favourite because it's seriously good, unpretentious food, in wonderful proportions and with a view that makes an eagle of your heart. As we waited for dessert, Dad did what Dad always does, the little sugar bowl that came out as a precursor to dessert comes laden with white and brown cubes. To Dad, this isn't an accompaniment to the tea and the coffee, it's a little pre dessert all in itself, every single time without fail he palms one brown sugar cube, two brown sugar cubes, four five six brown sugar cubes and sucks on them like a lolly when he thinks no one is particularly noticing. Sucks to be his pancreas...
...Rocks to be mine. Dessert at 41 is isn't quite taste bud sex, it's taste bud orgy. Order dessert here and those little bastards will never know what hit them. Luscious, sticky, rich, creamy, minty, steaming, crunchy, smooth, dripping...jesus christ. I hate white chocolate, but that could not restrain me from ordering the Dark Chocolate Fondante with White Chocolate Ice Cream and Caramelised Banana. The fondante is hot-olately dreamy, close your eyes, roll back your neck, relax your shoulders, sink in your teeth and DIE. Can you imagine the restraint it took to snap away for your photographic pleasure when all I wanted to do was claw maddeningly at my plate. But the fondante was NOT my favourite dessert of the day:
Cake + the Knifelings, I solemnly give you: Pecan Tart with Roast Corella Pear and Poire William Gelato. I am shaking my head. This is the ferrari of all desserts. A heady, dense, dark Pecan job, all sticky and chewy, nuttier than my Arab Relatives, sweet meets spice meets crunch meets caramelishiousness. Its too much. And the beautifully burnt roast sugared pear with a spike of the sharpest mint to shake you back into your senses. Dad and I played some Fork Hockey over the Gelato, this Gelato can not have come from normal milk, the milk cannot have come from normal cows, it is the richest deepest most sinking lull your mouth will ever know. Everyone who tried this plate of pure joy was absolutely smitten. It just makes you happy.
Being a glutton, I am a big fan of places that don't consider dessert the last course. Petit Four me up! Petit fourty one's are just divine. Richer than Rupert Murdoch chocolately truffles, some little biscotti type things, a pinkish marshmallowish delightish mouthspin and a little spiced friand job. Dainty does it. I took more than my fair share and delightfully snacked while I poured some fragrant earl grey from a heavy silver tea pot....ahhhh. This is the life.
Despite my early proclamations, lunch at 41 is beyond reasonably priced. Two courses with coffee or tea are $65 per person, three are $80 and an additional cheese course is $20. I have had the cheeses on past visits and they are always beautiful and unusual. Dinner is a very high brow affair, but lunch allows you to take in the most of the pre dusk view in a way that allows you stop the day, the week, your life, and to revive your senses with a place that knows how to make an experience enjoyable in every way it can be.
For Drinkers among you, the wine list is fearsome, and the in house sommelier is just a call away. For a special occasion or just because you feel like it, grab some people who make you smile and make a day out of it. I'd rather a good lunch at 41 every now and then over almost any dining experience. The service is attentive but always relaxed and never haughty. I know there are much trendier places in Sydney to drop some big lunch money on, but this is still my pick for classic good food that doesn't have to shock me to please me. The ambience is something that just can't be explained, you'll feel it as soon as you walk out of a lift and are taken to your table. So many special moments have been had here, it makes me think of laughing and talking with Dad especially.
Forty One Restaurant, The Chifley Tower, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney. Phone: 9221 2500. The menu changes seasonally, check the current autumn menu here.
Bliss. This is probably the closest a hedonist like me will ever get to heaven, and as long as I have a confirmed reservation, there'll be no Saint Peter type at the door to tell me I didn't make the cut.
Try it, if only once, it's Capital Dining.