Celebrated our birthdays at The Gantry and what a disaster it was

We decided to try a new place to celebrate our birthdays this year. A new place to have a vegetarian degustation menu with wine pairing experience, to be precise. John found this place called The Gantry. It’s located at the end of The Rocks (Walsh Bay), right underneath the Harbour Bridge with a spectacular view (video attached). However, the experience did not match the location.

The moment our first entrée was served, a waitress who was passing by and carrying wine spilt the wine over John’s side of the table, soaking his arm, his cardigan as well as his shirt (they both need to be washed now). Our starters and John’s bread were drenched, too. Accidents happen, we get that but she didn’t even do a good job of cleaning up. John wiped the table with his napkin because it was still wet after her attempt. They took away our starters and John’s bread. Five minutes later, we were served again but nobody noticed that John’s bread was never replaced.

So, that’s how our birthday dinner started…

We decided to go for 7 courses vegetarian tasting menu as some of the dishes were more interesting and we didn’t want to miss out. It’s $119 per person and you add $85 on top of that for wine pairing. Here’s the menu:

THE GANTRY
7 courses vegetarian tasting menu

Curd – slow cooked grains – mushroom – smoked prune
Chestnut – brassica – white raisin – potato
Panisse – sour peppers – green garlic – almond
Sunchokes – endive – pine mushroom – mustard
Sheep cheese – kohlrabi – onions – salted egg
Blackberry – yoghurt – shiso – grape
Fig – brown butter – oats – honey – milk

Curd – slow cooked grains – mushroom – smoked prune
This is the first starter of the night. It was a well-balanced dish however the curd disappeared into mushroom broth, the smoked prune was very light on smoke so it was very much like biting into a dessert rather than a savoury starter. The ancient slow cooked grains were farro, quinoa and barley and they were quite filling. The wine which was paired for this first course was Wickery’s Riesling. It is a typical Australian Reisling. Quite acidic that the sourness of it catches you at the back of your palate. I guess it was okay but nothing special.

Chestnut – brassica – white raisin – potato
Caramelised purple cauliflower with white raisin, chestnut foam and white Riesling sauce. I couldn’t taste the earthiness of chestnut in this dish at all but the potatoes were nicely done. The dish was paired with an Australian Gruner Vetliner with an incredibly elusive nose, almost like white spirit. In the taste department, it wasn’t saying much. On top of that, the wine did not go well with the dish at all.

Panisse – sour peppers – green garlic – almond
The sour peppers in this dish were so sour that they put Turkish turşu to shame. Panisse was done very well. As for the wine, it was paired with a 2016 Yarra Valley chardonnay and thank God it was wooded. I really don’t like unwooded chardonnay. It doesn’t matter how popular or trendy unwooded chardonnay becomes, to me it’s like flat coke.

Sunchokes – endive – pine mushroom – mustard
Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) were beautifully done, the onions were caramelised well in this dish. The whole thing was topped with very thin potato skins. This dish was paired with Cooter & Cooter 2015 Shiraz from Australia and it was such a disappointment. It was raw, rough with very coarse tannins. No softness or finesse whatsoever. It’s the kind of wine you get from a cheap pub. Another disappointment!

Sheep cheese – kohlrabi – onions – salted egg
I must admit, this was the most disappointing dish of the night. What you have here is caramelised onions (again), farro porridge, kohlrabi and very rancid cheese. I couldn’t finish mine and it gave John a funny tummy. To make things worse, it was paired with an Italian Nebbiolo which was very basic. No nose to speak of, either.

Blackberry – yoghurt – shiso – grape
This was presented as a palate cleanser but it was the first dessert. Palate cleansers are served earlier on to transition you from mixed flavours and prepare your palate for the next dish. It was basically blackberry sorbet with bitter shiso. It was paired with a dessert wine which was nice.

Fig – brown butter – oats – honey – milk
And the second dessert. They talk about seasonality however the fig was under ripe, big time. It was paired with a 2016 Frogmore Creek dessert wine from Tasmania. It was a nice dessert wine but it’s so hard to get dessert wines wrong.

The Verdict
The Gantry was by far the most disappointing vegetarian degustation experience we have ever had. The food sounded interesting on paper but the flavours didn’t match that well. Contrasting flavours don’t create well-balanced harmony on a plate every time. As for the service, there wasn’t much floor management happening either. It’s a shame because we were so looking forward to trying a new place. Well, we are definitely going back to Bentley’s for the next celebration (our wedding anniversary, that is) or Yellow.

Chatkazz with Berfu

We promised Berfu that we would introduce her to Indian street food one weekend. So, we visited Chatkazz in Harris Park.

Our mocktails: Mojito and watermelon juice for John.

Chatkazz is always busy as you can hear at the background.

We had Pani Puri as well but I didn’t take a photo of it as it’s not the most photogenic dish. This one is Dahi Puri.

Chinese Bhel was spectacular, again.

Khaman Dhokla (above)

Chhole Bhatura (above)

Chatkazz Indian Sweet Shop
On our way back, we popped in to Chatkazz’s Indian sweet shop and waited to be served for quite some time. Every other person was served but I guess you need to be Indian to be treated fairly in that shop. Anyway, in the end we had a box of sweets to take home like jalebi, ladoo, pista barfi, kaju and mango cakes.

I love the box!

The Rocks with Berfu

On our way to Newtown, we decided to drop in and show Berfu the weekend market at the Rocks. There was a chocolate festival on and it was packed. But we still had a look around.

Harbour Bridge view from The Rocks or Bridgie, shall I say?

The Oaks with Berfu

At The Oaks with Berfu having pizza and lots of chips.

A Day Out with Berfu

Berfu is the daughter of a very good friend of mine. She’s staying with us at the moment, attending English classes and most of all enjoying Sydney to the fullest.

On one of those days we decided to go out and do some shopping, have lunch at Bodhi in the Park and visit Hyde Park. Sydney has a lot to offer. Here’s some of the photos…

We asked a nice lady to take our photo. She was quite creative with it as we have many photos to prove it.

Sydney Hyde Park

Bodhi at the Park. This is where we had vegan yum cha.

I am definitely J. J. Abrams of food photography. Look at the lensflare. I mean add a few spaceships, you have sci fi movie. He would’ve been so proud of me.

These apple pies were awesome.

St Mary’s Cathedral

Berfu, outside St Mary’s Cathedral.

Bentley’s Bar and Restaurant, revisited

We went back to Bentley’s Bar and Restaurant on Friday night. I wasn’t going to take photos to write a review because I did that not long ago. I didn’t even take my low-light-handling-well-camera with me. But, the food and the staff were fantastic. So, I couldn’t help myself. Here’s what we had from Bentley’s a-la-carte menu:

My starter: Carrot + Chamomile + Buttermilk + Grapefruit

John’s starter: Charred Onion + Wood ear mushroom + Brussels sprouts

This is the only vegetarian main dish on the menu: Beetroot + Black rice + Blackberry + Purple kale

John’s dessert: White chocolate parfait + Pear + Saffron + Cashew. This was recommended by Guillaume and John said it was fantastic.

Complementary sweet nibbles, thanks to Guillaume.

In short, I can say that Bentley’s Bar and Restaurant and their fantastic staff did it again!

Chatkazz, Harris Park with Madhu and Kushal

Our friends, Madhu and Kushal, took us to Chatkazz last night for a night of Indian street food. It was fantastic! We are thinking of bringing Dad here. He would love it.

It is such a busy place. With all the hustle and bustle it actually feels like you are in India!

They have chairs, menus, pens and order slips outside where you wait for a table. While you’re waiting, you choose what you want from the menu and then scribble it down on the order slip.

Once you are inside, food just keeps coming so fast; you wouldn’t believe. Here we are, just before having incredible street food…

And, here’s what we had:

Sabudana Vada (above)

Chhole Bhatura (above)

Pani Puri (above) They are one of my old time favourites.

Dahi Puri (above)

Khaman-Dhokla (above). Another old-time favourites of mine.

Chinese Bhel (above): This was everyone’s favourite. I have just tracked down the recipe this morning. I will make it.

Chatkazz has a separate sweet shop. Those colourful sweets were so inviting when we popped in before dinner. I mean, look at them.

So, we bought some sweets after dinner but Kushal had already picked up some jalebi before dinner. He says jalebi is the first one they run out at the shop. Jalebi is one of my favourite Indian sweets. Thanks to Kushal I came home with some.

 

A delightful evening at Shirley and Mario’s

Miscellaneous Sydney

The Oaks, Neutral Bay

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The Oaks in Neutral Bay is just a walking distance from our place. Although, it has always been quite inviting, I have recently started to go there. Being a pub and everything, we actually didn’t expect it to be vegetarian friendly. But, that’s not the case.

So far, I have had their veggie burger and one of the vegetarian gourmet pizzas. The veggie burger is grilled zucchini and eggplant, roasted tomato, rocket, halloumi  cheese, caramelised onion, aioli and fries. The whole ensemble is huge; you wouldn’t go hungry. The gourmet pizza I had was Mixed Wild Mushrooms, garlic, mozzarella and truffle oil. It was one tasty pizza. Actually it puts Crust on the other side of the road into shame.

The best feature of The Oaks is its signature oak tree in the middle of the outdoor beer garden. It is “the” oak tree and it’s 78 years old. It was planted in August 1938 by Kathleen McGill. The sapling came from the old Anthony Horden’s department store on George Street as a gift with every purchase over 10 pounds.

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The magnificient oak tree (above).

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And this is what it looks like when the lights are on, providing an all-year-around Xmas tree.