In a city seemingly obsessed with restaurant openings and closings, it can be a welcome change to revisit the classic stayers. Bathers' Pavilion still has one hat, boasts one of the prettiest beachfront views, and head chef and owner Serge Dansereau can regularly be found on the pass.
The modern Australian menu includes touches of French influence (a nod to Dansereau's French Canadian background) as well as south east Asian ingredients. Diners can choose between two or three courses ($90 and $110 respectively) or take in a full degustation (5 courses for $130 or 7 courses for $150). A separate vegetarian page lists six options.
Amuse bouche: Daikon roll with pork, crisp potato and salmon roe
The dining room takes full advantage of the view, with tables positioned perpendicular to the beach. Glass bifold doors afford diners a tantalising backdrop of oceanic blues. Seating is noticeably roomy, with a luxe beach house feel.
As the summer sun lowers toward the horizon, our dinner party of three votes for a la carte. A complimentary amuse bouche arrives swiftly, a delicate roll of pork wrapped up in a thin sheet of daikon. Perched on top are four glistening pearls of salmon roe. A tumble of crisp potato shreds on the side provide an element of crunch.
Appetiser: Yellowfin tuna tartare
with ponzu and avocado, rice paper and sesame
We share everything, of course, and when we tell staff they wordlessly provide extra dining plates as well as serving utensils for each course.
Yellowfin tuna tartare is a light and refreshing way to start. A fine dice of yellowfin tuna are springy with freshness, contrasted with a ponzu and avocado puree and bubbled sheets of deep fried rice paper.
Appetiser: Galantine of quail
with pickled nameko mushroom, quail egg and confit leg and garlic puree
Galantine of quail is an impressive amount of expertise of a plate, running from the pressed quail to the perfectly poached quail egg to the tender shreds of confit quail leg. Pickled nameko mushrooms are a rare treat, a Japanese mushroom not readily found in Australia.
Appetiser: Seared deep sea scallops
scallop mousse with nori, fennel, salmon and shellfish sauce
The shellfish sauce beneath the seared deep sea scallops remind me of breaking waves at the beach. The sea theme continues with nori sheets wrapped around scallop mousse, coupled with briny pearls of salmon roe.
Main: Poached blue eye trevalla
with blue swimmer crab, seared baby cos, sea vegetables and avruga caviar sauce
Our poached blue eye trevalla is hidden beneath a sheet of compressed blue swimmer crab mousse, draped across the top like a modesty blanket.
Poached blue eye trevalla beneath the blue swimmer crab mousse
We pull back the covers to find an expertly poached fish fillet, flaking apart easily. The subtle sweetness of blue swimmer crab is a little lost in its transformation to sheet form but I'm happily distracted with the shimmering hunks of jelly that are intensely flavoured with crustacean. There's a lot to explore on this dish, including seared baby cos leaves, the salty hit of sea bananas and a chase for the last remaining pearls of avrugar caviar around the plate.
Main: Lamb loin
with beer braised lamb shoulder, zucchini, potato gnocchi and lemon
Lamb loin is the ideal shade of pink, two islands of perfection that probably didn't need the fancy panfried columns of potato gnocchi or the dabs of sweet lemon jam. But we couldn't get enough of the seared baby zucchini or the meltingly tender beer braised lamb shoulder.
Pouring jus over the roast beef tenderloin
Table side pouring of jus over the roast beef tenderloin offers welcome theatrics although I do wish the waiter had left that whole jug on the table. The sticky salty silky sweetness is so brilliantly executed, it's drinkable.
Main: Roast beef tenderloin
with asparagus and pickled onion, braised oxtail and smoked onion puree
It's a fitting flourish to the roast beef tenderloin. That should be tender with a capital T. Carving each slice is like sinking a knife into butter. The braised oxtail is a sigh of rich unctuousness.
Bathers' wedges $12.50
We order the wedges because crunchy potatoes cannot be resisted. It's piping hot deep-fried carb heaven.
Bathers' pomme puree $12.50
And when presented with a choice of potato dishes, you may as well order both. The pomme puree is a Paris mash of dollopable deliciousness, a thick and luscious melange of butter and potato that is ridiculously good.
Savour each spoonful slowly, and then maniacally dip those wedges in there like nobody's watching. Nobody saw me, right?
Dessert: Ginger and rum baba
with mango and pineapple, tropical fruit sorbet and sesame tuile
Desserts include five choices plus a cheese plate option. We pass on the dark chocolate mousse, the raspberry and fromage blanc gateau and the passionfruit mousse in favour of the ginger and rum baba.
We don't detect much ginger or rum in the rum babas but there's a definite tropical theme with fresh mango and pineapple, fruit sorbet and sesame tuiles.
Dessert: Coconut meringue with grapefruit
guava sorbet, Prosecco jelly, lime curd and olive oil dressing
Coconut meringue is the definite showstopper though, an elegant meringue orb that we gleefully smash to smithereens. Inside we find a soft muddle of Prosecco jelly and guava sorbet. Coupled with the pink grapepfruit arils and lime curd, it makes for a well- balanced palate-cleansing end to our meal.
We can only manage two desserts after our carb blowout, and even then we need a post-dinner stroll for digestion. A walk along the promenade while the moon shimmers over the water couldn't be more Sydney.
4 The Esplanade, Balmoral
Tel: +61 (02) 9969 5050
Lunch Monday to Sunday from 12pm
Dinner Monday to Sunday from 6.30pm
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Balmoral - Bathers' Pavilion Restaurant (2007)
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1/30/2017 01:54:00 am