Friday, October 29, 2010

Welcome To Fucking Deadwood! (aka, Foveaux, Surry Hills)...*

*= guttermouth piece, not for the kiddies.
Laws. Fucking Laws! They ruin everything, from donuts to double parking. Bloody Laws! Like entree and main to dessert, always in the goddamn way. Most good, full blooded human urges are illegal: cussing off at a copper, lying to a judge, running over the odd, pesky lycra-clad cyclist, maiming someone you hate in a blinding fit of hypoglycemic rage, scoffing at the 'honesty jar' know what i'm talking about. We descended from apes. Who are we kidding? And here they've gone and...structured us, made us civilized, broken us down. They outlaw anything worth doing. Like loitering. Loitering is wonderful. Sometimes you just don't know where you've been to and where you're going, and loitering is simply the only way you can sufficiently express - to the universe and everyone fucking in it - your sense of utter placelessness in the world. But no, Law won't be having any of that! Jesus, due to a defective Bechara gene, i've always had trouble with following the law, and that was long before I started studying it. Deadwood around the 1900's. No laws. Not a single one. Now, that would've been my kind of place. 
I could get over the fact that Johnny Cash wasn't yet born, that Danny wasn't even a glint in his Great-Great-Great-Grand Father's eye and that they hadn't invented Earl Grey Chocolate. Heck, I could even deal with the fact that moroccan oil, The Sopranos and Watching People Run For The Bus And Miss It wouldn't exist for countless years. I'd live there and love it all the damn same! All that fucking swearing, all that fucking Swearengen! All those Crazy Cocksuckers! All the bloodshed, all the shit and all the sludge, all the Gem/Bella Union scheming and scamming, all of E.B's verbose, flowery and failed (and flailing) machinations. I would've taken fruity tea with Mrs Ellsworth (nee Garret) in the arvo, played with the Little One, helped Bullock partially dislodge his figurative proctological pole. I would've mouth offed a little to Slithering Cy, avoided Joanie Stubbs (lest I die of bloody boredom) and ask Dolly what happened to her technique. I'd eat some of the Jewel's cinammoned peaches and chew the fat with Merrick about the day's events. I'd ask him what was with that scary Mr Hearst. Then, i'd stop by the Alley and pinch Wu's cheeks.

Most of all, though, i'd just basically follow Al around. Night and fucking day - in abject, open worship. Swearengen. Swengen, according to Wu. Al. If he complained about being followed i'd tell him to stand it like a man, give some back. Al. Love. Lawless. Deadwood. My kind of place. 
Laws, pfft. Why follow the way, when you can call it? You always have more fun when you break the rules. Lawlessness aint dead, Bastards - not by a Bloody Long Shot. A gorgeous, luxurious and entirely pleasure inducing little stint at Foveaux, Surry Hills for the Wonderful, leather-mini-clad Itty Bitty Li Lay's birthday showed me that Sticking It To convention is alive and well in some chef's kitchens, and deep in their fancifully delectable imaginations. This is the most exclamation pointish place i've been to in bloody yonks! So amply delicious and exciting all at a wonderful once. Different and Decadent, Polished and Perfect, and so comfortable

Want to know what all the fuss is about, then? (say yes, damn it)...It's going to be intense, touchable, tongue twitchingly-tantalizingly traumatic, but I don't want any ruckus, god, Cake + knifelings, act civilized, even if you ain't... 
Celeste's evening begins downstairs in the PlushLushness of the clandestine and Capone-esque Red Door. Expensive and subterranean and padded. A Darkness thick w Shadows, heavy furnishings and big pillows, leather and satin and sandstone walls. And Sin. Atmospheric and sensuous. Think Red. Think Fishnets. Think White Tux. It's the kind of place you'd smoke a cigar...(if it weren't against the bloody law). Smoke ring floating from full, dark, red lips all the way to a wink across the room. A glint of Gold. You catch my drift. 

A couple of voluputously blood-red shirazes (shirazi?) and i'm starving and burning up with anticipation. A bowl full of oiled GreenBlack olives keeps the table side company of some salt and peppered handmade crisps, and tides us over til we are summoned above. Then, it's up the stairs (tipsy) and to the right and into a beautifully honey-lit room with pale, gentle colours, earthy brick walls and a glassed view into where all the magic will be happening. I don't know if the atmosphere is drunk on it's own loveliness, or if its just projection from my own liver, through my liver chi - up and out of my googley eyes: Heaven.
Are you ready, then, for a sublime tasting menu, as strange and wonderful as it is damn delectable? Get ready to have your heart, your eyes, your mind and your mouth taken away from you. What starts in your mind upon the page will run the full gamut of your astounded anatomy. Watch it, feel it ricochet to heart from stomach and then down into around and through, curled, happy toes. Spiraling. Murmuring. Your breath will be taken. Your fancy forfeited. Even your composure will be stolen from right beneath you. But don't hold that against the chef, we wouldn't trust a man who wouldn't try to steal a little, now, would we?
Tomato + Olive Oil Sorbet with Cucumber, Nasturtium Flowers, Olive Jelly, Sheep's Fetta + Capsicum Paint. Holy Fuck. Breaking the law that says sorbet needs to be sweet never tasted so bloody good. This crazy little concoction is something of a visual marriage between a strange butterfly suspended in a shock of bright, but gentle colour and the bloodied trail of something shot and trying to slink quietly away from you upon your plate. Like when Dan gave it good to Captain Turner in the thoroughfare - but with more finesse. So gorgeous and asymmetrical, it looks like a mess of jewels on a plate.
Gorgeous and vivid and beautiful. And so Pretty, like Trixie after Al quit slapping her and she stopped whoring. The tomato sorbet is silently chilled and gentle, like a frozen gazpacho with a full throated throttle of DeepRich tomato sweetness. Intense and Orange and Fucking Singing Tomato. It tastes saladish, but in such a surprising way. The olive oil smoothness hushes the tomato, just a little (and for just a moment) then it comes blazing through the cool, creamy ice in some sort of epic flavour bellow. Absolutely precious and like frozen jewels on a trembling spoon. The sheep's fetta and the capsicum give a warmth of sorts (like Gimp at the Gem), and even more creaminess to the iced tomato. I can't even describe this dish, you simply have to try it. It's playful and confident - due to it's sheer imagination I was willing to admire it even if it didn't come through, but it was resounding, each aspect of flavour held its perfect and proper place and plaited itself together into a melange that was simply confused and whimsical courageousness. It's like your tongue struck gold.
Some Cold Smoked Albacore Tuna, Whipping Me with its Whipped Ponzu, Tomato Salsa and Avacadoed Sesame is something of a sea sprung flutter. Absolutely fresh and sharp, completely hitting all the notes it should, and with a beautifully creaminess against the coolness of it all. The whipped ponzu is ridiculous, it tastes like liquid sashimi - and is completely electrifying. The flavour isn't original but the texture is, it's absolutely startling and gone far too soon.
To match her sexy little black leather dress, Li lay ordered the Herb Baked Leather Jacket, w Braised Rabbit, Lettuce, Peas + Green Olive Puree. The garnish was divine, levitatingly light and summerish, perfect contrast to the beautifully cooked fish (pay attention Guillaume). It was fun to look at and delicious as well. I couldn't decide which I liked more, this or..
My lovely Roast Palmers Island Mulloway w Bouillabaisse Foam, White Polenta, Black Olive and Tomato. Holy Hell. This was just insane. And an amazing portion for a tasting menu. The skin was crispy and deep and the gently cooked fish underneath it fell away in beautifully salty, moist flakes. The flavour of it was so full and serene. God.
Each forkful of fish was dipped into my little pot of Bouillabaisse and then swirled into the polenta plate cloud that was floating somewhere beneath it. Creamy and rich but still with a sharpness and freshness from the olive and tomato. Such a gentle main but so full of flavour. I love when good people do fish well.
Beautiful red kept flowing and I was pretty much gone by this point. The experience was just magical, the lighting and surroundings were perfect, I was completely taken away. I especially loved how sharp the service was without being at all fussy, no posing no postures no pretense, none at all, Cocksuckers. Loved it.
Meet the Meat the Pescetarian didn't Eat. This could be the Wakame Roasted Veal Sirloin w Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Asparagus, Green Purslane + Burn Butter Jus, or perhaps it's the Cured Smoked Lamb Rump, w Liver Puree, Greens, Garlic + Puffed Spelt. I don't know which. I ascertained it's loveliness from whoever ate it, took a photo and then forgot about it all together. It is rather baa-d of me to not know. Whether I am a naughty little blogger for not remembering is something you'll have to decide for yourselves, being as the point is entirely moo-t.
Pescetarian, but not bloody vegan! Divine cheese. A goats and a blue and two others. With toasted walnut bread, lavosh and fruit. And a syrupish thick short black on the side. We're hanging it out, playing it cool, cause I have the menu and I know what's a headed our way from Yankton. 

In life you have to do a lot of things you don't fucking want to do. Many times, that's what the fuck life is, one vile fucking task after another...Beg to differ, Al...Dessert at Foveaux aint anything of the sort...
Cocksucccccker!!! A Salad of Pineapple, Milk Sorbet + Macadamia Nut Praline is one of the most perfect things that's ever happened in my mouth. If I had a couple of pistols I would've pulled them out and started firing off into the air when what was going on in this dish finally hit taste bud home. Delicious and simple and pure. Smooth creamy, milky ice and perky pineapple and fluffy praline. Sweet and A Little Tart. Wonder of wonders. Happiness. It's so sublime and understated and startling, even your spoon starts to swoon and becomes as weak and droopy as your knees. Sorbet for entree, and again for dessert. Huzzah! I think that's another stupid law we're breaking! Why stop at one sweet thing, though?
...Banana Ice Cream, Caramalised Banana, Deconstructed Digestive Biscuit, Coffee + Tonka. Willy Wonka had nothing on this Tonka. Bravo, Foveaux! Taking simple everyday ingredients and making them strange and delightful and delicious. This was like an Adult Sundae. A Sophisticated mess of the familiar and the entirely eccentric. The little scoop there in the middle looked kinda sad, never fear, I put it out of its misery as quickly as digestion would allow. And followed it with...
No, not her, silly...But a bite of something as unusual and delicious and imaginative as her...
Her Ginger Sponge w Carrot Marmalade, Cream Cheese Ice Cream + Walnut Powder. Praise the Lord. We have divine. The ginger sponge was something else. Not a sweet ginger, not a dull one either. A sharp, sure, triumphant ginger, biting and snapping in the midst of a killer, moist sponge. Dreamy and beautiful and with a zing here and a slap there. Like an intelligent Deconstruction of a carrot cake, if Jung were alive - he'd totally be subbing it in his kooky conscious over this one. 

Foveaux, you sly dog! If our tongues had hats, we'd be doffing them to you. And all for a reasonable price! What could you possibly be thinking? Great food. Great wine. Great service. Great atmosphere. Great imagination. You bloody cocksuckers!
Poor Li Lay. Our three bad, drunk, satiated voices did the best we could for you with this candle. Happy Birthday, Baby! I am very glad to have celebrated the first one with you. You suggesting this place was a present to the rest of us, just like the sight of your smile, your cheeks and that phenomenal thing in your tights I won't mention!
Jesus Christ. Foveaux happens at 1/65-67 Foveaux St, Surry Hills. Red Door at the same place. The website is here. What magical stuff this tiny little haven of delectableness is! Please try it if the opportunity ever arises, I can't recommend it strongly enough. Intimate and perfect and I can not wait to be there again.
I was so content when it was all over. The best dinner I have had in a long, long time. If you'd fed me to Wu's pigs after I would've died a happy death. Isn't it great when chefs get playful. Can't wait to see more Sydney set ups as worthy of praise as this one. Love you, Foveaux!

But there is just one more thing...

I want to know who cut the fucking cheese. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Waltz With Bechara (aka Sabbaba, Newtown)...

Waltz With Bashir told the tale, in an animation hauntingly human, of war's toll on memory. Strange and recurrent dreaming distorts a man's time as it burdens his heart. His eyes become heavy with a past forgotten. He recedes into things unknown. And it is through his nighttime imagining, silent and sensuous, full and terrible, that he finally comes to remember. 
But hey! Not all things between the Lebanese and Israeli's traumatize memory or mind. In fact, some experiences are so indelible to hippocampus (the part of your brain that stores memory, dummies) that some Lebanese folks have them joyfully branded therein forever. Foodies of the World Unite, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Waist Bands. 

Yes! You are hearing it from one very happy girl who no longer has to haul her tuches all the way into Bondi Junction for some serious pita-ing, and if that aint kosher, then I don't know what is! Make no mistake about it Cake + Knifelings, SweetSweetSaucy Sabbaba, has just opened up delectable and dazzling little shop in Newtown, King St. And right next door to Max Brennar. This is obviously some kind of message from God to my adipose tissue: go forth and multiply! God definitely must speak Hebrew because Sabbaba is simply, wonderfully, fundamentally and literally: all good. 

Pita Perfection goes a little summin like this, and believe me when I say, you'll be Yiddy With Delight. This is definitely not an experience you should Passover...
But first, a word of caution: Look at that mug, will you? That belongs to the human genetic comedy we all know and love Jamie. And that's the lovely Janine. Now, Jamie's not just appearing because he's a charming and handsome specimen of manliness, no Sir-ee, and he's not in here because he loves Point Break, either. That would be...a waste of time. Jamie is your demonstration, people. He is like the little dude on the safety card on board a plane who tells you how the hell to escape the emergency and get out of it with your life - the emergency of utter tahini-licked, sauce dripping, falafel crunching deliciousness you are about to crash right into. So, for Godsake, don't make me say it again, Sit up, fasten your seat belts, pay attention! 

Around the region known as Jamie's face (and his jowls, in particular) you can see the proper representation of what an AFTER SHOT of a Sabbaba pita looks like. Notice the little flecks of chilli and tahini on either side. This is correct. Jamie has possibly scored extra points for having little crumbs of perfectly baked pita floating amongst what (I think) is passing for some stubble. This is how it ought to be done. If you're not wearing it, then you're just not caring for it. Not the way you should be. 

Decorum aside, Fine-Tea-Bone-China-Oh-Indeed-English-Upper-Crust-Yourself-Off, it's time to get down and dirty. Jump right in. That's what napkins are for. Don't bring first dates here or people that don't already love you. This isn't slim, shy sandwiching, it's JawKong, it's an edible flipped-bird towards tastelessness, it's the promised land on a plate and all sauced up - and (thank God) it's in your face...
Oh My Lord. Would you look at that. Or if you're from NZ, would you look at the-aaaat? Forget pictures of pickled newborns who look like they're planning your imminent murder through their beady/creepy homicidal peep holes, this is the kind of image we need to be carrying around inside our wallets, people! This is exactly the sort of shit people need to be seeing. Hey, I had this pita the other day, isn't it so cute...yes, Danny and I are very proud, we weren't expecting him to be so big... Man. It's like a little reverse black hole of cosmic energy dwells deliciously inside the minced-chillied-salady heart of this wonderful wholemeal pita. Instead of sucking energy in, out it heaves. Alive and spiced and olive oiled! Bejeweled globs of tahinied pickle and tart red strands of sour, celestial cabbage, beautiful salad and just about the most sublime falafel this side of the wailing wall. 
This is a token shot of some chicken schitnzel with all the Middle Eastern Sauce sisters, some crazy fresh red chilli sauce and bounds of pickles and salad. Creamy, thick Omega3RichRichRich Like Saudi Princes-sauces rollicking alongside fresh, tart parsley and cabbage is a combination that's all full bodied chutzpah. It's delicious. It's moorish. It's saucy and crunchy and fresh. It's wonderful. And so (Fran) Fine. Mix and Dip and Bite and Lick and Layer and Smooth. If it's a small bite you're after, stay away from Sabbaba. No bupkes happening here, massive, solid serves to leave you full for hours are the main constant on a menu that weaves its way, like a long lost lyre note, through the full spectrum of Israeli Culinary Glory: VeryVegan in rich pureed eggplant with masses of chickpea, chilli, and all the way through to a no nonsense Carnivore Carnival of beautiful shawarma, perfectly grilled meats and fish. There's simply something for every kind of appetite. And if you survive a Sabbaba main, perhaps with some serendipitous sides, not only are some wonderful traditional and not so traditional sticky desserts waiting quietly and patiently for you, in their own languid and gentle sweetness, but some of the best coffee going around is there to smack you back into your stupefied senses. 

But let's not get ahead of ourselves like some silly schmucks, let's take it slow and break it down. Let's take a good hard look at what makes Hela smile, just like this.
The classic Sabbaba pita is a good First Timer choice (like the boy next door). In one week, I went there 5 consecutive days (the boy next door analogy ends here) and availed my taste buds of the same suburban glory: a wholemeal Sabbaba with extra green minced chilli and pickle. Perfect pickle, not in the least bit fickle. Not a trickle of pickle, but enough to make you sickle. The best bloody pickle i've ever been in. This is decent bloody nosh. The anatomy is perfect: the most gorgeously crisp shelled falafel that once bitten into reveals a steamy coriandered soft chickpea heart, brilliantly spiced and deep, buried within lashings of gorgeously oiled hommous and baba ganoush and chilli - thick and creamy and all mooshed in with beautifully clean salad fantasia as filling. 
It's voluptuous, bountiful, burgeoning. Wonderfully too big for your mouth, you have to angle it around sauce dripped corners of cavernous pita and just try to contend with its magnitude, saucy section by section. The texture is more balanced than a Zen monk, but slightly more orgasmic. Dry pita, wet, fresh salad, crispy falafel and smooth, woozy creamy sauce spiraling into flamboyant chilli. It's as velvetly and moorish as a cheeseburger but so much more delicious and better for you. I've often thought baba ganoush and hommous are the Middle Eastern answers to dairy, if you use them where you'd ordinarily use cheese or cream you get the same comforting richness to your food but without any adverse ass effects. This is great news for vegans, who can sometimes be a bit of a joyless lot. But, anyway... 
Fancy a side of fine chips? Who are you kidding. Chips should come with everything, they're just necessary. Gelato shops should serve them. They should be on breakfast menus - at sushi restaurants. Who doesn't like a good chip? Beside maybe an Old Block. But good chips arent all that's going down in Sabbaba Pita Sidekicks...
Add to the glory of the above about 4 bucks extra and you can get your John and Paul with some George and Ringo. Wonderfully tapas-ish sides circumvent that most awful of menu situations: having to choose between what you want. Choice. Leave it to home loans and sexuality, people. Don't choose when it comes to food, not ever, have it all, even if only a little bit of it all. Have a pita with some corn chips or guacamole, or some fries or vine leaves or some salad and dessert.
They've thought of everything. And in funky packaging with kaleidoscopically graffitied walls! Jesus, Sabbaba, so saucy and so damn savvy. It's the brainchild of two good friends who started with a restaurant in Bondi. The concept has been reproduced at Bondi Junction and now Newtown, with a focus on snappy, sharp, healthy takeaway that caters for a new kind of hungry bastard. You should be able to eat takeaway and still eat healthfully and wonderfully, Sabbaba is filling in - with falafel and craploads of salad - this cleaving gap in the fast food market. The Newtown crowd is already lining up - and it's a great mix of old people, young punks, nurses heading down from the RPA, funky uni students, polished princesses and moneyed yummy mummies. The taste is so appealing and so versatile.
This is also one of the most open and beautiful spaces to eat in, especially in Newtown. The look is almost punk basement meets Hamptons beach house. Muted blues, whitewashed tables and ivory tiles give it that little element of Mrs Brady - while the graffiti walls and overall spunk of the atmosphere is more like Mrs Brady on speed with a nose ring and a bad attitude, cheating on Mr Brady with Alice while she moshes to the Dwarves. 
It's fun, it's funky, and it's clean. It's busy and vibrant and bustling. It's spicy and colourful. Crowded and delicious. It gives you such a great sense of atmosphere for an In/Out experience. 
Think of it just like a cafe, even if you don't get a meal, come with the paper, grab a killer latte and something sweet. I like their coffee much more than campos, and what's more, it comes with much less SeriousArtsyWankerBarrista demeanour (someone seriously get them a tan and a ticket to the circus) AND a free square of cadbury chocolate on top. Energetic and Inspired co-owner Nick told me the free square of chocolate idea started off from everyone wanting one because he always had his coffee that way. It doesn't matter why there's free chocolate, there just is and that's a very beautiful thing!
Rollicking of atmosphere, rabid of appetite and relishable of flavour. Hell Yeah. Sabbaba has arrived. Make sure when you go you ask for a side of the fresh minced green chili, that's it below. It is the most thick, luscious and verdant mouth fire you'll ever be likely to set. It is gorgeous on everything. Pita, meat, corn chips, fries. Get it, spoon it, love it...Got it?  
Send yourself into a final food coma with any of the moorish baklava - pistachioed and rose watered and nuttied in the most honeyed of hues - or turkish delight, or honeycomb cookies, or brownies, or banana bread, or any of their other divine, dirty, secret chocolately somethings. You'll be collapsing onto your plastic covered couches when you get home afterwards. Such an agonizing array of every flavour you could ever desire.
You'd think being such food smart and business savvy people they'd know it all, but i'm afraid they don't. Come on Nick, what's with the pronunciation of falafel? It aint fuh-lah-ful, not by long a shot. I don't want to push any Arab/Israeli tension, here, but I have to - in extreme bias - insist on the correct pronunciation (even with Danny and Eb laughing at me and calling me a bloody wog for it) the proper way to say falafel...all together now, is: fah-laaaair-full. Sealed in with a garlic burp, Mate. 

That's how you do it, and I can't have it any other way.
Get your hungry little butts down to Newtown Sabbaba asap. Oy! Breakfast is happening, beer is happening, amazing coffee is happening, happiness is happening, and so is Bonsoy (you bloody beauties).
It's basically the best thrill you can have for under $9 bucks (and that's including more spurious establishments around Central Station). It's a fun place to bring a crowd, nice and loud and anything goes, but big enough that you can find a private, quiet corner in which to look deep, deep down into the crevice in your pita... before simply dropping your whole, entire face right into the saucy, salady middle of it.
Sabbaba, we love you. You keep spreading that tahini, and i'll keep spreading the word. 

Thanks to Nick and your other lovely partner whose name I forgot (!!) so good to have met you and have tried some real deal haloumi. If we're going to be friends though, hold back on the free dessert, I already have trouble with limits!

Special thanks to C + K SuperDooperModels: Jamie of the sticky face Utah, get me two! Two! You're saying the FBI's going to pay me to learn to surf? Back off, Warchild. Seriously. To Janine, for the WalkThatWasMoreTalk and Blind Yoga w Almond Croissants before hand. To Hela of the sweet, Polish smile and kindly real property tuition. And to DCG, who is like the Sandwich Effect as boyfriend.

If you don't manage to get you and your mouth into Sabbaba asap - you run the risk of dying without knowing what it's like. A sad, pitiable pita-less death! If that unfortunate event ever happens, i'll be front row center at your funeral, shaking my sorry head and saying...oy vey! 

Sabbabaliciousness: even if you have to wander through the desert for 40 years, make it happen. And when you do, you'll be seeing stars - of David!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

High Expectations following a Sinking Sun (aka, Guillaume, with Regret)...

For those of you that care to know, and I can't imagine that there would be too many, Sydney Law School, is a ridiculous place. No, really. Pompous, pristine and possibly riding aloft the highest moral horse that ever swooped into the ivory skies of exclusive academia...well, at least that's the view on campus. You see, it's like Top Gun, but with more geeks and less aviators. As luck would have it, a little mid-degree-crisis coffee with one of my favourite teachers, who i'll keep entirely anonymous (lest he sue me for defamatory imputations), revealed a very peculiar and telling insight: he described his role as not so much the teaching of law, but as Expectation Management, 101. 
You see, law students don't exactly have a penchant for humble pie - and if they do eat it, then they're probably throwing it up and telling everyone else how much farther their vomit travelled. They're an intellectually pretentious lot, if you can imagine, and nearly every person in law school expects to top their class. Sadly, results come back, tears are shed, and, as my friend pointed out, this is not to be the case. Although, Mick did get an HD in contracts, and we'll all be hearing about it until the bloody day we die. Yes, the years have made my friend skilled in teaching people to manage their ambitions, as high expectations have been the downfall of so many: Caesar, God, Keating, the producers of Inception, Everyone on News Year Day, Short Men Since The Beginning of Time, and anyone who ever expected to look good in Hammer Pants. 
Perhaps this was a lesson I should have kept in mind on my final arrival at Guillaume. We had both been dying to get here for years. Our ears were full of so many delicious rumors about the experience, that our mouths were more than ready to step in and take over. I made the reservation for Curly-Wurly-Girlie Joelle, of the famed hair and the infamous beauty, and I, in honour of her birthday, but it wasn't just the two of us who showed up. At a table laid in thick, silencing linen-white with heavy forks and knifes, me, her and all of our bloody expectations about what Guillaume would be like sat back, sipped a little mineral water and watched a dying sky over a fading Sydney. 

An ivory menu in delicate black lettering told a tale of Blue Eye Trevalla. Of Roasted Barossa Valley Chicken. And Duo of Duck. And Scallops with cauliflower puree. As well as Baby Snapper in crisped skin with Jerusalem artichoke three ways and a Madeira and veal jus! Three ways! You mean this whole time i've ben having my Jerusalem artichoke one way like a bloody schmuck! A glance at this line up and we were feeling giddy, who needs champagne when the menu is this bubbly? 

Not us, especially as we probably couldn't afford it, anyway.
Festivities kick off with a little gift from the chef. It wasn't even my birthday, i've never met the guy, but still, he knew exactly what I wanted! Danny could use a tip or two from this guy. Petite, precious, jeweled little pearled lentil filled pots of creamy, herbed and heartrending rare fish. One artfully careful bite had feet arching and Jo and I all a sensuous sigh. This dish was immaculate, simple and sharp and added to in flavour by its sudden unexpected, but very welcome, arrival. Here, fishy fishy fishy.
The gentle little wafer that caressed the beautiful fish was the perfect, warming roughness to contrast the creamy, cool flesh. I wanted seconds but I played it cool. This was neither the time nor the place to be Lebanese.
Entrees are capable of being memorable events in the biography of our lives. Truly, they are. They can be up there with weddings, birthdays and graduations. A Veloute of Globe Artichoke with Fresh Chestnut and Parmesan Emulsion. JYFJHVJHbjSJKgdsGDj! If Javier Bardem had a twin brother, and God disembodied the both them along with Daniel Craig, a John Frusciante Solo, a Johnny Cash vocal cord and an Orhan Pamuk plot - pureed the lot, and turned into an entree, it would this.
Saint Forsooth! My God. Smoothness drowning in stunning, and with an ache of chestnut spiraling through. This tasted like having a little Michelangelo hanging from the roof of your mouth painting each and everyone of your stunned taste buds with all the colours of an alimentary heaven. I didn't know what to do. I just sat there, bewildered. The levels of flavour just kept descending. You'd taste the artichoke first, then the chestnut and then a slight pause and the parmesan would pop up to say hello. It wasn't quite like having a party in your mouth so much as like having a round of beloved friends over to a fine cup of tea, one popping in just as the other was saying goodbye. Good God.
Jo's treasure of seared scallop with cauliflower puree, shiitake mushroom, spinach and chicken jus was no less dazzling to eye, mouth or spoon. Usually scallops are a bit dull of me, hard and unremarkable. These were soft, gentle, yielding scallops, they sat like gems on top of the most sublime puree of cauliflower, buttery and smooth and creamy-dreamy like a gentle whisper. Rich and achy. Loveable. So deep and gorgeous and perfectly balanced, in colour and palate, with the sharpness of the spinach and the depth of the mushroom completing it all so effortlessly.
Gorgeous and expensive and so solid and structured. The entrees had us weeping with desire. Not really. They had us actually sitting smug and giddy as passers by looked in on the glory that was our dinner.
...Dot. Dot. Dot. I hate to write a bad word, really I do. But the mains were just a little bit, shall we say... lacking. I ordered the John Dory on carrot and ginger puree with coriander and pommee allumette. The fish was overcooked for me, I like it with a soft, moist flakey type of texture, this was fried a little too much and just a bit bland, the flavour with fish disappears with overheating. It just tasted rough and oiled. The rest of the dish, if a little gingery, was amazing in its own right, but it just didn't balance the fish well. It was sweetness with a heaviness that was too much, it needed freshness and sharpness. Dull and disappointing. I'm sorry to say.
Jo's snapper with jerusalem artichoke suffered the same fate. The fish was just too done, like collagen lips on a bikinied lollipop. The artichoke was delicious again, and the textures especially in this dish complemented themselves commendably. The crispiness of the skin against the softness of the artichoke was beautiful.
The problem with mediocre fish at an expensive place that you have high expectations about, is like the identity of someone with multiple personality disorder, a tad complicated and multifaceted. 
The fish courses were $50 each, for that money the meals should not only be perfectly flavoured and stunningly displayed, they should also be able to offer an entertaining dissertation on the history of Western theology - and in 5 languages. $50, I didn't tell my Mum but I can feel her twinge with disapproval somewhere in Burwood right now, and not be knowing why. Such a shame. I have heard wonderful things about Guillaume generally, so don't let this put you off. Restaurants, especially at the higher end, can waver from time to time. 

We all do, but just not quite so expensively!
If main stomach is a little sad by this, perhaps dessert stomach can find something to get excited about. Heck, the mere thought of cake makes me forget where I am, who I am and what just happened, anyway.
A calculated decision is made, like a military strategy in world war II - and with no less thought and concern. We have selected two off the menu, with the petit fours and coffee to round it all off. At this point, we're giving them as many opportunities to salvage the night as we can.
A creamy berried something is a perfect palate cleanser and pancreas bracer. Delicious and light, fruity and flirty and fun. Pink and white and silver and glass. Gone like food in the path of pregnant woman.
The apple tart with cinnamon ice cream is a classy act to behold. UFO as tart that abducts your saccharine senses. Sweet, I thought too sweet and Jo thought not enough, but gorgeously buttery and appled - more wicked than innocent. The ice cream was beautiful, the cinnamon magical, but again, it wouldn't have missed some mint or something to lighten and freshen the taste.
The nougat with roasted peanuts, caramel ice cream and banana unfortunately took us back into lackluster territory. The ice cream was too subtle, you couldn't quite discern any flavour. The nougat was gorgeous to look at, but didn't dazzle otherwise.
A little bit sad. The dessert menu, Jo observed, was just too classic. There was nothing incredibly different or whimsical about it, which is usually one of the nicer things to look forward to in fine dining. If you are going to stick with classics then they must be impeccable, these were nice but just not Wow.
Petite fours.
Chewy, chocolately, tarted and carameled.
And downright the best short black I have ever had (even though we ordered macchiatos). This was thick and syrupy almost with such a strong body and no bitterness at all. Nutty and frothy and perfect and rich. But this is a hell of a place to come for a short black!
Guillaume did miss the mark for me. The ambience was too stiff, too formal. Even at fine dining restaurants it is possible to have fluid service, the waiters were lovely but I just felt awful asking for anything, the mood was so heavy, we spoke in hushed tones all night.  Tetsuya's is example of a place that gets the right balance between formal and easy service. The ambience was definitely older and moneyed in a way that was a too stuffy. It didn't add to the occasion for me, only detracted from it. 
A funky bathroom ceiling shot, and...
I couldn't resist...The Money Shot. 
Please don't let me deter you from Guillaume. I've heard so many good things from people whose opinion I respect. I do only write pieces about places I am dazzled about, so this was a bit of a difficult piece to share, I don't think i'll be able to do this sort of review again. I wanted to put it out there because its not an experience many people have for themselves but are curious for a peek into, so there you have it. 

If you do go, don't do as we did and get off on the wrong foot with your waiter by actually asking how you pronounce the name of the place. If he can pronounce it better than you then you clearly don't belong there! It's gee-um (said very quickly), sort of, for those of you who didn't know.

Happy Birthday Miss JoJo, i'm sorry it wasn't more amazing for someone who continually amazes everyone like you. Next time we should keep it to Auburn Maccas and after party at Bar Fernando. What do you say?