Today is my second day of leave, of around 4 weeks. It's my first proper break from work since my European sojourn around 18 months ago. What am I going to do with my free time? Eat. Why did you even bother asking.
After using yesterday as a day to do nothing and get into the leave mode, I wanted to kick things off with an awesome lunch in Sydney. Where better than Sydney's most beautiful restaurant?
I've only visited Quay once, around 2-3 years ago. It is a meal I still consider to be one of my favourite of all time, but one that I haven't repeated because of how freakin busy the restaurant has gotten in the past 2-3 years as it rose up the ranks of the world's best restaurants.
Once again there is a massive cruise ship docked, getting between myself and the Opera House. But, again, it didn't matter: the view across a sparkling harbour on a crystal clear day was beautiful, calming, quietly thrilling.
The first dish was pretty puzzling. Raw marron sitting on a bed of grapefruit and green mango with a bergamot marmalade. Beautiful ingredients, but heavy on bitter citrus flavours. The matching wine is sweet and juicy, but still doesn't quite overcome the bitterness. It's not inedible by any means, but it's not a standout for my tastes.
From then on, it was simply mind-blowing. Every dish and every wine just got better and better and better.
The mud crab congee with palm hearts? It's different to how it was last time I visited, but it's still a dish of staggering depth and wholesomeness.
Lobster with squid, tapioca and lobster velvet? Beautiful to look at, better to eat. So many soft, silky flavours. It's one texture, split into multiple sub-textures.
Smoked and confit pig cheek with shitake, shaved scallop and crispy jerusalem artichoke? The best dish I've eaten in AGES. The pork is cut with the spoon and gloriously sweet. The shitake and scallop complement the flavours perfectly and the crisp artichoke adds some texture. It's made even better with the salty, oxidised flavours of the matched Or'Norm Sauvignon.
The slow-cooked quail breast with semolina and grains is glorious, rich, and a huge improvement on what I remember being an awesome dish last time.
The main of wagyu, bitter chocolate black pudding and oxtail consomme is perfectly executed, simple, rich, clean and stupidly good.
The snow egg is here to please the fans, and it definitely doesn't disappoint. But it's the other dessert--ewe's milk ice cream with caramel, prune, chocolate and vanilla milk skin--that is the dessert highlight for me. It's like a deconstructed Street's Vienetta or something, different crisp textures and a rounded group of flavours.
The food has evolved since I was here last. There's less on the plate, which only helps emphasise what's left. Everything feels more comforting and nourishing somehow. More natural, perhaps.
Service is pretty much what you'd expect from a place like this, but are a little more casual to match the feel of the place. People are happy to sit back, relax, have a laugh and take their meal slowly.
Since that first meal at Quay I've put it in the upper, upper echelon of fine dining in Australia. One of the top 3-5. This meal has changed none of that, Quay is still an absolute treat; a joy.
RATING: Will return to [?]