It finally happened…
After nearly three years of food blogging, last June I managed to attend a food blogger event! The food bloggers’ #fancyfrenchdinnerparty was held at Restaurant Atelier, a gorgeous little sandstone cottage in Glebe. It is just the kind of place at which I would love to have a special dinner or event – I could even imagine having our wedding reception here, if we hadn’t already planned one!
But now, to the food.
I knew that I should pace myself. I told myself to go slowly, to not fill up on bread and snacks. But there were homemade potato chips with smoked salt, and the bread was sourdough and served with Pepe Saya butter, olive oil and balsamic and an amazing tapenade. So I failed at the first hurdle.
Thankfully, the amuse bouche soon distracted me from the deliciously moreish salty snacks. It consisted of line-caught yellow fin tuna, coral tenax (it’s actually seaweed, not coral) and red capsicum jelly. So delicate, so pretty!
Next arrived the WA marron tempura and crisp pork belly. Amazing! The textures were lovely, a combination of crisp, crunchy, soft and quivery squidgyness. The fermented soy bean miso was rich and salty, so much so that I didn’t actually finish it all. (Too many smoked salt potato chips!) I loved the baby herbs in it though, which provided a nice, light contrast.
So far, so fantastic, but things were only going to get better. The Master Kobe wagyu tartare with crisp quail egg, pea and broadbean salad blew my mind. This was my favourite dish of the night! The tartare was slightly piquant, herby and peppery – a perfect balance.
I wasn’t so excited about the sound of the next dish: poached fillet of line-caught John Dory, with celeriac, potato, wilted mâché and sauce Bernaise. I’m not a huge seafood fan (though I do love good shellfish) and expected poached fish to be a bit, well, blah. But of course it wasn’t blah at all. Darren managed to really bring out the flavour of the John Dory and balance it delicately with the other elements. Really surprisingly good.
Now in my head, anything with the words glazed and duck in its name has to be good. Add Szechuan, caramel and vinegar and I’m sold. Darren’s combination of flavours suited me perfectly and I loved the contrasting textures of meaty breast and crispy confit leg. This was nearly as good as my favourite duck dish at Hartsyard… Nearly!
Last but not least were two (yes, two!) desserts. The first was a vanilla custard with coconut crunch and sheeps milk yoghurt ice cream. To my surprise and delight, the coconut crunch turned out to actually be coconut flavoured POPPING CANDY. How awesome! Plus I love sheeps milk yoghurt, it’s so creamy and delicate. And knowing that all the dairy is from Country Valley makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I was so full that it was a little difficult to get excited about the final dish – caramelised pistachio and cocoa nib soufflé with sweet miso milk shake and vanilla bean ice cream - because it sounded so incredibly rich, and large! I loved the souffle and the ice cream but I found milkshake too much for me. But then again, I don’t drink milk (yeurgh) and have always associated milkshakes with sinus problems, headaches and excess phlegm. Sorry. ;)
Unbelievably Atelier is BYO most nights of the week, which makes a midweek dinner very affordable. The lovely Stephane of UrbanPasta shared this bottle of wine with me, which was so good I’ll be searching it out again. Thanks Stephane!