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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
SYDNEY: Marque Restaurant
Unfortunately this is not going to be the full blown review that I originally intended, but instead a small synopsis and some photos of what would have to be one of the best constructed meals I have had in Sydney, since the original Rockpool experience some years back. I dined at Marque, in Sydney late last year enjoying the obligatory surprise degustation, with each course announced upon arrival and a menu presented upon completion of the meal. Unfortunately I had already seen a sneak peak of the menu online prior to my visit so I guess I only got part of the experience, but it was pretty darn special all the same.

Marque is all about the food. The dining room is cosy and modern, but tables are very close and there is no real wow factor to report on. The service, whilst professional is possibly a little stiff. I only wish it exhibited the same quirkiness as the food. On that note however the food was rather amazing on most counts. Some of the dishes absolutely sublime. Here is a little look at what Marque is all about. Enjoy!

Amuse - Chaud-Froid Free Range Egg: A deconstructed play of textures: warm yolk, cold froth: sweetness and saltiness all in one dish. Certainly enlivens the taste buds for what is about to come.

Almond Jelly with Blue Swimmer Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Sweet Corn & Herring Roe:
A mix of more subtle flavours to begin with. Flawless ingredients, immaculately presented. Nice idea and well enjoyed; together the dish works without really blowing me away.

"Fish Floss" with Spring Bay Scallop, Apple and Green Mango:
The only course of the evening which really does not quite hit the mark for me. The scallop slices are so thin they barely taste of anything, the fish floss so overpowering and salty I cannot stand the smell let alone the taste. The fresh apple and gel helps to balance the dish and it is all finished off with a 'nicotine tuille' which is sweet, crisp and perhaps a little weird. Sorry to dissapoint, but I'm not addicted to this one.

A slightly subdued start, however from here on things start getting pretty serious with some truly sensational dishes to come.

Cured Ocean Trout with Coleslaw, Lemon & Dill Jelly:
A sweet delicate strip of ocean trout gently rests upon a crisp, creamy coleslaw. Atop the trout rests a layer of juicy salmon pearls, all finsihed with a slightly sweet, tangy jelly strip which gives the whole dish another dimension. I had fun deconstructing this course and playing around with the different flavour combinations on their own and together.

Duck Ham with Duck Liver, Peas, Parmesan and Mustard Cress:
I cannot even begin to tell you how incredible this dish was. One of the most sublime courses I have ever eaten. The duck liver is rare, but warm and literally melts away in your mouth with a gentle gamey flavour, the house-smoked ham (if you can call it that) is sweet and smoky with delightful hints of hickory present. The parmesan custard is creamy and not at all overbearing and everything just comes together in a perfect symphony. A triumphant dish!

Roast Jurrasic Quail with Green Lip Abalone, Chocolate Feuilletage and Celeriac:
Succulent quail breast rests upon a light, flaky chocolate pastry accompanied with a creamy celeriac puree and finished with crispy shreds of abalone and a sweet jus. Another wonderful dish.

Poached Veal Loin with Eggplant, Coppa and Tuna Butter:
Perfectly cooked, tender veal that is not messed about with too much. The eggplant crisps give the dish an added textural element and the "tuna butter" provides a little saltiness and acidity to make the course more interesting. It all comes together very well.

Sauterne Custard with Caramel:
It is sticky, rich and very sweet as it should be; however I question the placement of such a dish straight after a selection of heavy mains. A lighter palate cleanser may have proved more refreshing.

Poached Strawberries with Raspberries, Liquorice, Yoghurt Sorbet and Vermouth:
A lovely mix of elements: fresh raspberries, lightly macerated strawberry slices and a clever light yoghurt sorbet which is not too sweet at all. Light, refreshing and pretty as a picture.

To finish - Salted Caramel Chocolates & Campari Bon Bons:
Very classy. Both have liquid centres that burst once they enter the mouth. The salted caramel chocolates are just divine and the bitter-sweet bon bons a clever way to conclude the meal.

Overall the food at Marque was exciting and really did deliver in nearly all of the courses. I tasted two of my favourite dishes of the year here: the amazing duck liver/ ham duo and the quail with salty, sweet crispy abalone shreds - both rather unbelievable.

The eight course degustation is a great way of seeing what chef Mark Best's cooking is all about. It is available for $145 plus wines and is compulsory on Friday and Saturday evenings. Whilst the service and setting did not dazzle me Marque is definitely worth a visit if you are serious about trying creative, impeccably crafted food which takes you on a journey and really does "wow".

MY RATING: 17+/20 - Food: 9+/10 Ambience: 4/5 Service: 4/5


  posted at 8:04 AM  

At April 12, 2009 at 8:00 PM, Anonymous K. said...

I was meant to re-visit your website to see what you thought of Marque's food, as I went around the same time as you did, late 2008.

My menu was nearly the same as yours except for the scallops dish, also Venison dish subtly different.

However, the presentation of all the other dishes despite nearly the same ingredients, was different from yours! Strange.

I also thought that the Duck dish was amazing as well as the Quail one. My venison one was also really good but it came with smoked cauliflower puree from memory, and probably pre-sliced? I also loved the cured Salmon dish with the dill infused lemon jelly.

I'm surprised you only gave it 17+. To me, the presentation of the food and the whole preparation things of it wasn't perfect - but the taste and respect of the food itself was what truly wowed me. Its French Michelin 3 Star quality - where some 3 Stars are over-rated.

Attica is great too and more beautiful, but I seem to remember Marque's flavours more than anything!

At April 18, 2009 at 12:21 PM, Blogger Jon! said...

Thanks for your comments K. The food was indeed rather amazing in almost all of the dishes. As you can see of the 20 points I allocate 10 are for food and the other 10 for service and ambience. I have given Marque 9+ for the food which certainly puts it up their with the very very best. The serice and ambience were good without being at a world class level in my opinion, hence th overall score of 17+ Heading back to Sydney soon - hopefully I'll get to enjoy another amazing experience and find some time to write about my others!!

At March 6, 2010 at 6:51 AM, Blogger Food lover said...

It looks amazing, specially the chocolate bonbons at the end! Must try

At August 30, 2010 at 12:31 PM, Anonymous Cath @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

Glad I stumbled upon this blog as its a great read. Keep up the good work!


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