Good God, how time flies – in a blink of an eye, 2011 was over, we were celebrating the new year and now before I was even prepared for it, I’m staring straight at the impending February. Time really does fly by when you’re über busy.
Better late than never to get this up then. Late in 2011, Felix and I paid a visit to Quarter Twenty One – one of Justin North’s new ventures in what I like to call the Justin-North-Quest-For-World-Food-Domination of the new Pitt Street Mall Westfield. You can’t really call this area a traditional ‘food court’ area any more – there’s still the traditional open seating surrounded by a mouth-watering variety of food options flanking the walls, but in addition to these, there are also a number of restaurants here serving to cater for those wanting a bit more of an intimate dining experience.
Quarter Twenty One is one of these places. Taking up one corner tucked away from the main dining area, the shop front serves two different purposes. To the right is a cooking school and retail area representing the diversification of the Justin North empire running a number of cooking classes as well as selling a variety of cook books, artisan food products, wine and even take-home meals prepared daily in the Quarter Twenty One kitchen.
Smoked Vichyssoise with Bacon Crumble
Bacon makes everything better. The savouriness was a perfect start of the meal against the cold vichyssoise.
Salad of Beetroot & Endive, Bellingham Blue, Hazelnut & Pear
Nicely balanced with the sweetness of the beetroot and pear against the bitterness of the endive leaves.
Lightly Cured Snapper, King Prawns, Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber & Vanilla
A nice mix of textures with the silky snapper and the crunchy vegetables. I must say I wouldn’t have liked being the prep chef in charge of balling the cucumber!
Roast Skate Wing, Crab & Scallop Stuffed Courgette Flower, Fennel & Courgette
Skate or rays are pretty uncommon in Western cuisine I must pretty surprised to see this on the menu. Being brought up in Malaysia, it was my favourite to eat grilled over charcoal with a generous serving of belacan. The roasted skate wing was delicate but the highlight of the dish was the crab and scallop stuffing in the courgette (zucchini) flower.
Caramelised Suckling Pig, White Asparagus, Garlic, Malted Milk, Honey & Pistachio
Oh be still my beating heart – there’s something about seeing the words “suckling pig” that entices a level of excitement. Perhaps it the fact that suckling pig most often forms the feature dish at most Chinese banquets and is always guaranteed to garner a resolute “ahh” from guests at the table on arrival. Despite the change of setting and cuisine, I didn’t prevent the same reaction from the two of us – the crispy skin coupled with the tender meat beneath was all we could ask for.
Rib & Rolled Loin of Riverina Lamb, Peas, Mint & Balsamic
Our 5th course came with two options – lamb or quail. Being a non-lamb eater as you know, I chose the quail. And being the non-lamb-eater-not-by-choice, Felix chose the lamb. Can’t blame him, he can’t eat lamb anywhere but when we’re eating out.
Roast & Confit Quail, Sarladaise Potato, Globe Artichokes, Prosciutto & Muscatels
Back to the quail – the juicy quail although tasty was disappointingly not completely de-boned which meant some chasing around plate with the fork and knife trying to get the last bits of meat of the bone. There was definitely much love for the sarladaise potato here. Despite the magical combination, cooking potatoes with duck or goose fat doesn’t appeal to me at home (since I can see the goop), but in a restaurant where what-I-can’t-see-can’t-hurt-me rules apply, I simply lap it up.
Pineapple Sorbet & Basil Mousselin
Basil in a dessert – who’d have thought. I really didn’t know what to expect here and quite honestly on first taste of the basil jelly, I half expected to be hit with a feeling of chewing on raw basil. Instead, I found the basil flavour very subtle and not overpowering.
Warm 68% Alto Beni Zokoko Chocolate Pudding, Orange, & Tonka Bean Ice Cream
Our second dessert also came with two choices – chocolate pudding and a banana crème brulée. As always, Felix couldn’t resist the chocolate dessert.
Banana Crème Brulée, Salted Peanut Brittle & Milk Coffee Sorbet
While I chose the banana crème brulée. It had been a tough year for banana lovers with the price hitting as much as $10 per kg. Banana desserts were being charged a premium and by the end of the year I had practically forgotten the taste and texture of the humble banana. So with the promise of a banana crème brulée for dessert, I could hardly say no. Unfortunately the anticipation meant that I practically was expecting a crème brulée that tasted like a banana (at least, how I remembered it to taste), but instead the taste was really quite subtle and was masked when eaten with the salty peanut brittle or the milk coffee sorbet. Best part of the dish – the larger than average portion of hard caramel on the top which cracked beautifully into shards.
|Quarter Twenty One
L5, Westfield Sydney, Cnr Pitt St Mall & Market Street, Sydney, Australia
P: 612 9283 3440