As an Australian, Gentle Reader, your Humble Correspondent is sometimes asked about cuisine and fine dining in Oz. After the Four Bruces jokes and the tedious remarks about oxymorons, I remind people that great chefs abound Down Under and generally recommend places like Tetsuya's (Tetsuya Wakuda), Rockpool (Neil Perry), and Grange (Chong Liew) among others. And I still will, but now there's a place I'll be talking about before all those others. I refer, of course, to Glass Brasserie (Luke Mangan).
Oh my very very Goodness! Imagine if you will, Gentle Reader, a venue so stunningly transparent and well-lit that the full color and energy of the shared dining experience seems to spread bonhomie and good cheer from table to table. Yet by some wizardry I'm yet to understand, each table seems so intensely private and gloriously quiet that one feels as if one were at home.
The menu has been created with a deft sense of exploration and tradition, with few signs of the false passion some establishments seem to have for food trends. No molecular gastronomy here - great "real" food turned out by a disciplined kitchen that shows its confidence at every step.
The first sign of the joy to follow was the exquisite Amuse Bouche of a Balmain/Rozelle spiced seared tuna with pickled ginger and an eschallot dressing. Pickled ginger indeed! Elegant yet inviting, this little jewel succeeded where most Amuse fail - it hinted at the journey ahead, but didn't intrude.
My companion, the effervescent Tim, chose a Terrine of smoked hock rabbit, foie gras and celeriac to start. Your Humble Correspondent upped the ante with a Pithivier of quail and foie gras. Both these dishes were outstanding, and excellently matched with the 2006 Batasolio Gavi di Gavu Granee white wine.
Our mains were Riverina NSW peppered lamb rum which Tim pronounced as "sublime" and my Glenroth pheasant breast - pheasant can be dreadfully tricky to cook as it dries out easily, but this version was succulent, mouthwateringly delicious, and sufficiently decadent to satisy even the most demanding of my Old Bastard friends. We went for a merlot from Petaluma (2004) which started very big - to the point of feeling like a Cabernet, but quickly mellowed to match the mood of the two tubbies at the table.
Rounded out with some Brique d'Affinois double cream brie, Comte de gruyere, and Woodside Pompeii - this was an excellent, excellent meal that will go down as one of the most sumptuous repasts I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. And imagine, with Tim!
If business or whimsy takes you to Sydney, I urge - no, demand - you try Glass. You won't be disappointed!
Glass Brasserie, 2F Sydney Hilton, 488 George St.
Rating: Food: 9; Wine: 8; Service: 8; Ambience: 9; Price: 8 ($$$). Total 42/50