FOOD is fashion . FASHION is food . a VICTIM of fashionable food*

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Marque Restaurant*

"Being the Best is no easy task, 
but Marque Restaurant has managed this feat: 
to be awarded SMH's Restaurant of the Year 2011.
Mark Best claims perseverance and ‘eternal dissatisfaction’ 
are the vitamins for his spectacular personal development.
I believe, it is just the Best mastery of French cuisine."

Finally, I have tried Marque. What a relief! It has been a restaurant on the top of my "to try" list for sometime. My first attempt was back in February 2010, which turned out to be a disaster since I did not end up eating the food at all (a tale for another day). At the time, I vowed never to return but I am extremely glad I did. Apologies in advance for the poor quality photographs! The dim lighting in the restaurant, combined with my broken camera, was indeed a recipe for food photographic disaster. I guess it means I will have to return to Marque again to properly capture the culinary experience, or any excuse will do! 

Amuse Bouche
(Trying to get the perfect angle to depict the contents of this dish was difficult, in light of my dysfunctional camera. I opted for a bird's eye view, and upon first glance may be easily mistaken for a Wassily Kandinsky painting! Simple, chic and delicious. Transparent blue bowl was a bonus.)

Almond Jelly with Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Almond Oil & Sweet Corn Custard

(Photograph clearly does not do this dish any justice. Tasted amazing with the sweet corn custard. Unfortunately the almond elements slightly overwhelmed the crab component. Other than that, no complaints.)

Duck Egg with Veal Sweetbread, Black Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts & Vinegar
(Soft boiled duck egg immersed in a colourful collage. My favourite was the veal sweetbread, a hidden gem that had the right balance of sweet and savoury. For the WOW factor: spot the "ooze"!)

Young Rabbit with Wakame, Braised Cashew Nuts & Zucchini
(For those confident enough to try Rabbit, this would be a nice introduction to the french delicacy. Lean, succulent and... different. Minimal seasoning for the other elements allowed the distinct lapin after-taste to linger in your taste buds.)

Grass Fed Wagyu Bavette with Onions, Black Tea & Stem Salad
(A delightful surprise given my lack of expectations for the dish. Dad usually purchases a huge 10kg slab from our restaurant wholesalers, which is subsequently transforms at the dinner table into my favourite wagyu steak topped with blue cheese. So I am rarely excited about wagyu dishes. I was very impressed by the tenderness of this Wagyu Bavette- simply cooked to perfection! Uncertainty about how black tea would taste in a dish, rather than it's liquid form, was easily overcome. It tasted like a dry caffeine power, in a good way of course. More than just a garnish, the stem salad added some crunchy texture to the tender wagyu.)

'Creme caramel' in Sauternes Syrup
(When I informed my brother I would be dining at Marque, he instructed me one thing "Remember to try the egg!". Unfortunately I did not try the infamous Chaud-Froid Egg, but I did manage to try another egg dish. This complimentary pre-dessert was served in a neatly beheaded eggshell. Honestly, I did not know what taste sensations to expect as the presentation was so simple. The egg is lightly cooked, sweetened with a thin layer of bitter caramel on top. One analogy which springs to my mind is like custard, but better!)

(An interesting twist to the conventional Tiramisu dessert. A mixture of parsnip and potato flakes protruded from the surface of the vanilla foam which reminded me of a snow sculpture- especially with shadows overcast in the background. However, this combination had hints of apricot overtones which was not to my fancy. Vaguely reminiscent of Kobe Jones' failed attempt at a japanese interpretation of Tiramisu, by using Sake instead of Marsala. I must confess, I am just a traditional Tiramisu girl at heart!)

Chocolate Mousse ‘écrasé’, Eucalyptus & Coconut
(I think I have an écrasé on this dish- of the infatuation kind. A thin layer of dark chocolate encases smooth creamy chocolate mousse, which is dusted in cocoa powder. Coconut gelato resembles a wave that is about to come crashing towards the chocolate rock formation. There are some leaves to represent foliage of vegetation that surround its rocky shores. What a beautiful story unfolding before our eyes.)

Petit Fours
(A progression aptly surmised as a bitter-sweet ending to a pleasant dining experience. Liquid centres gave an additional touch of flair to these conventional finishers.)
Bitter - Raspberry bon bons filled with liqueur 
Savoury - Dark chocolate salted caramels
Sour - White Chocolates with Lemon filling
Sweet - Sugar dusted jelly jubes

What started off as a spontaneous catch up dinner with M turned out to be a three hour culinary indulgence, and updates on all the gossip in our lives since our last get together. To dispel the rumours about making dinner reservations a few months in advance, I somehow managed to book dinner for the two of us within a few hours (on a weekday).

Several improvements are in progress: my quest to find a new camera is almost over and J is helping me build a new website ~ so stay tuned!

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Marque Restaurant
4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9332 2225
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