Wednesday, May 26, 2010


There's an embarrassment of talent in the kitchen at Sepia at the moment. Headed by Martin Benn (ex head chef at Tetsuya's) and backed up by Daniel Puskas (who did amazing things at Oscillate Wildly) and the recent addition of Graeme McLaughlin (of the famous Fat Duck in England). It's fair to say that I've been wanting to go there for quite some time to see what future superstar chefs are turning out.

I've been trying to hold out for the degustation, but a combination of having difficulty finding someone to go with, the proximity of the restaurant to work (next door, basically) and the lack of a lunch date made their business lunch look pretty appetising.

It's a handsome looking restaurant, no doubt about that. It has a corporate look (is there such a thing? (yeah, shut up)) but that would mirror the majority of the crowd that would be attending (ie people like me).

They offer 2 courses for $55 or 3 courses for (I think) $75. 2 choices for each course.

I started with the salad nicoise. While waiting, one of the waiters (possibly the maitre'd (what is that?)) handed me a book to read if I wanted something to look at. A fantastic gesture. He was the star of my lunch, nailing every single interaction with me. Not everyone was as good, but the overall standard was good.

It arrived. It was fantastic. A good piece of tuna, cooked absolutely perfect. Great flavours on the plate. I really enjoyed it. Generous size for the first course of a lunchtime menu; sometimes they can be on the tiny side.

The odd flavour combinations were what I was really looking for at this place. The entree was fairly standard, but the main gave me a hint of the sort of stuff they were doing: sirloin with mushrooms and a lime sauce.

I enjoyed the dish, but it didn't wow me. I've had better steaks. I also found the lime sauce a little confusing. While it was essentially a jus flavoured with lime, my taste buds took a while to reconcile the slightly metallic flavour of steak blood and the earthiness of the mushrooms with the punch of the lime. Solid, but not outstanding.

Look, you can't expect too much from a business/express lunch. Restaurants are looking at putting out food that they can serve quickly for a reasonable price. What I got was a small taste of the full Sepia experience. I've already decided to return for the business lunch again and try the other dishes, and my lunch has only solidified my desire to go for dinner and have the full degustation experience. The wine bar also looks interesting, but the markups on some bottles look at the higher end of the spectrum.

RATING: Will return to [?]

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