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|Abode Bistro & Bar|
Since May, 2016, there has been a new Head Chef at Abode Bistro and Bar at the Parkroyal Darling Harbour in Sydney, so recently a group of food-lovers was invited to taste Chef Anthony Naylor's menu and comment on the whole experience: food, service, ambience, food...you know how it goes? We were booked to enjoy the Six-course Tasting Menu, priced at $65 per person, with matched wines to complement the menu at an additional $35 per person.
Our amuse-bouche of smoked paprika and sweet corn soup with crab lime and salmon roe paired with Jansz Premium Cuvée set the tone for the evening. Creamy, with a hint of spice, the flavours bounced on our palates, preparing us for more to come.
Pan seared scallops with cauliflower purèe, pickled radish, shaved broccoli, pancetta and lemon oil with Mt Riley Sauvignon Blanc ’15 Marlborough, NZ came next. Superb large scallops from New Zealand starred of course, but the chef was initially a little apologetic because they were from 'overseas'. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Chef Naylor is fastidious about the provenance of his ingredients and is trying to source entirely from local (as in NSW, or even Greater Sydney and Hawkesbury) producers. We assured him that no one felt he should rule out fine seafood like this. They could have been from the moon for all I cared after tasting them!
Chef Naylor has gained incredible skills and knowledge from a variety of internationally renowned restaurants in the past twenty of so years, highlighted in 2015 with the award of two chef hats in the Gault & Millau Restaurant Guide as Head Chef of Prime Restaurant.
Pear and blue cheese salad of witlof, pea shoots, alfalfa with roasted fennel dressing
After a few dishes I began to see where Chef Naylor is taking his food. I particularly liked that it is so 'clean'. And although I am sure it is hygienic, what I really mean is that the ingredients are fresh and wholesome, able to stand alone without additives and fancy cooking techniques. This allows the flavours to be distinct which is vital as it was clear that Chef Naylor and his team have very carefully thought through the combinations and cooking techniques to make each work as a stand-alone dish or as part of a complex tasting menu such as this.
At only 15 years old, Naylor was given a dream chance in Michelin star restaurant L’Ecrivain under Chef Patron Derry Clark, learning from his mentor and succumbing to a passion of the kitchen that would take him worldwide. Through the UK and Europe including Gleneagles Hotel Scotland, to heading up the Best Steak House restaurant in NSW in both 2013 and 2014 at Prime Restaurant Sydney, his philosophy of highlighting each ingredient’s flavour and texture has driven him to create a refreshing dining experience.
Our first main of confit Quakers Hill duck breast with wilted greens, mushrooms, bacon and red wine jus with Bibliotheque Travel Writing Shiraz ’14 McLaren Vale, SA was comfort food indeed, ideal for countering the chilly night outside. The food has a homestyle appearance but the professional expertise was very evident too. I also appreciate having vegetables served with mains (on the plate) instead of a side dish. I dislike restaurants where I have to remember to order vegetables as an extra - and pay more as well. The mixture was colourful appropriate and just enough. Another problem I have with sides of vegetables is that they are often massive and could serve four people, not just the one ordering them.
Murray River cod served with saffron vegetable broth, chermoula and dill crème fraiche was an additional main, not usually included in the tasting menu, but we were there for a purpose, and so we loosened our belts and thotoughly enjoyed this tasty and superbly tender fish not often seen on restaurant tables. This was a particularly good example, bought from someone who raises these large fish in Grong Grong on the Murray River. I was impressed that Chef Naylor knew the man's name and it was obvious he is interested in personally making friends with his producers. A very valuable skill.
If a meal such as this is too much to contemplate (in time or quantity) there is an answer. You can still enjoy the chef's food with an Abode Bistro and Bar’s Winter Warmers Lunch for $19.50 served Monday to Friday from 11:30am-3pm. Choose from hearty homemade pies or winter specials including braised lamb shank.
Dessert turned out to be two desserts (oh, the things we do to bring truth to the eating public!), the first was banana parfait, coconut sponge with salted cashews and butterscotch sauce paired with a Keith Tulloch Botrytis Semillon ’12 Hunter Valley, NSW. It is useful that throughout all menus at Abode, dishes are marked as V- vegetarian, GF- gluten-free, and DF - dairy-free, where applicable.
The second, and final dish of the evening was an almond and orange cake with cream cheese icing, elderflower, candied orange and blood orange sorbet. Each dessert was a beautiful balance of colours, shapes, flavours and texture. Little masterpieces left until the end of a glorious meal, they would have been a delight as a supper treat with coffee after a show, or as a special afternoon indulgence. The tasting menu offers Dilmah tea or Org coffee as a finale.
In fact this winter, Abode has it all sorted with a decadent chocolate journey as a new high tea offering. Relax and let your taste buds explore a unique selection of indulgent sweet treats and gourmet savoury bites matched with fragrant Dilmah tea blends such as Moroccan Mint, Rose Vanilla and Earl Grey. Chocolate High Tea features a myriad of international flavours across fourteen sweet and savoury bites, from only $45 per person including one tea selection. It is available every Friday from 2pm to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11.30am to 1.30pm and 2pm to 4pm. For more information .....
If you wish to read on, here are some of the other notes I shared with the chef as part of my overall assessment of the meal, the restaurant, and the chef and his team.
I also liked (in no particular order):
Abode Bistro Bar, Parkroyal Darling Harbour, 150 Day Street, Sydney, +61 2 9260 2945. Open 11.30am-late, daily. Licensed.
- reviewed by Sally Hammond
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