It was recently my 30th birthday and as a treat my boy took me out to Glass at the Hilton. Glass is the latest venture by celebrity chef and restauranteur Luke Mangan.
The decor is modern and chic, well thought out and subdued, just as you would expect from a top tier restaurant in a leading 5 star hotel. Most importantly for a restaurant such as this the sound engineering is such that you can't hear the conversation at the next table. The high ceilings and glass wall lend a huge air of spaciousness and it is all helped along by views of the beautiful Queen Victoria's Building across the road. Sadly it was under renovation at the time of our dinner and I couldn't get a photo that would do it justice.
We are presented with the menus and here is the only criticism I will make of the evening; the food menu was on a large clipboard and when I say large I mean A3 in size, far larger than my actual table setting so I could not set it down at any point. This made it rather awkward to hold and review and eventually I gave up and balanced it over my forks. The wine menu was also ridiculously large but not in dimensions - just in content! The menu is the size of a slim novel (a full 45 pages
) and takes in every major wine producing country and most wine regions of the antipodes. I deliberate for some time and argue with myself about choices until the waitress wonders if I might like to speak to the sommelier, however her question only prompts me to make a decision.
Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve $27 by the glass
Those who know me well know I like Champagne, and I can't walk past a Billecart, especially as a toasting glass in a celebration meal. Being a traditional Champagne it's a blend of Pinot Noir, Muenier and Chardonnay with a citrussy front and a clean finish, just perfect with lighter summer appetisers.
We ponder the food menu once again and decide that the tasting menu isn't for us - the boy doesn't eat liver and much of the menu is seafood that we are not fond of so we order a la carte more to our tastes.
Fresh breads are brought to us and served simply with Mangan's signature olive oil which has a fresh grassy taste, lighter than the Spanish oils I usually use but fresh and well blended.
Chicken Liver Parfait, Pear Chutney and Brioche $15.40
It's my 30th birhday, I'm feeling poorly, the only thing I want in the world at this moment is a liver parfait. I brightly smile at the menu and my dining companion knows exactly what is coming. This liver parfait isn't my favourite in Sydney (that probably still goes to Danks St Depot for the texture and the parmesan) but it is good and served with a pear chutney and toasted brioche. This makes for a happy goth gourmande.
Yellow fin tuna, wasabi, yuzu and avocado $28.60
Continuing the birthday wishlist the menu provides once again with this raw tuna dish, served with a bright fresh yuzu sauce and lotus root chips as if the chef had asked for my favourite foods before I arrived. The meat is light and fresh, not as meaty as some tuna I've eaten but immaculate quality and the flavours mesh perfectly together - a definite must order.
Charcuterie plate $19.80
Three entrees is probably too much but again it's my birthday and another all time favourite has to be charcuterie. This plate doesn't disappoint either; marbled beef carpaccio, prosciutto and pork salami are served with crisp pickles. We are brought more of the sour dough bread to eat it with and the acid of the pickles cuts perfectly through the fat of the meats.Torbreck 'The Steading' 2007 $93
I love a Grenache Mourvedre with aged beef and after much arguing with myself over the wine menu I chose this Torbreck, sadly the 2006 listed wasn't available but they did have this 2007 which honestly was more than ready for drinking. Torbreck has really made a name for itself as a fantastic Barossa winery and this bottle is no different. The sommelier approaches apologises for the change in vintage, we do the taste and approve dance and then he decants it beautifully using an aerator.200g Rockdale Fillet with truffle mash and Cafe de Paris butter $51.70
Originally this meal was served with parmesan and truffle fries however I'm not so much one for chips and so changed this order to a truffle mash instead. This may have been my downfall, between the 3 appetizers and the richness of this meal I couldn't eat it all and rather wish I'd ordered it with a salad. Nonetheless the meat was beautifully cooked, dripping in melted Cafe de Paris butter and the truffle mash was rich and flavourful. Definitely worth ordering, think about skipping the entree if you really want to fit it in.
300g Rangers Valley Wagyu Scotch fillet (5+ marble score) with pork sausage and a celeriac remlouade $73.70
I was too full to try all but the smallest amount of my companion's meal but it was beautiful, the pork sausage particularly was spiced well and set off the wagyu. I've never tried the Rangers Valley beef prior to this meal and I must say I was impressed. The chef too knew how to handle the steak, all too often kitchens will leave high marble steak to cool too long while resting and the fat becomes gelatinous; not so here.
Rocket (arugula) salad with walnuts and blue cheese $14
I think we were a little optimistic about how much we could eat, but it's summer and I like a salad with my meal. This was probably the only lowlight of the meal, it wasn't very exciting and could have been dressed more.
No matter how stuffed we were though a celebration meal deserves sweets. Here you can see the chamomile tea that I needed for the illness.
Vanilla creme brulee with macadamia biscotti $18.70
One of the best things about creme brulee has to be cracking the sugar on top so this large flat bowl of brulee was just perfect and filled with extended sugar related glee. The smooth vanilla bean custard underneath was just icing on the cake really.
Petits fours $16.50
Figuring myself to be too full and ill for a whole dessert I ordered petits fours and then was served with an entire platter of the things, so much so that I took most of them home. Mini truffles, quince jam, pistachio nougat, home made marshmallow, mini Cannelles Bourdalaises and mini Madeleines served two by two so you and your companion can share the tastes. Each mini mouthful was wonderful and there was a temptation for every palette. As someone who loves a small bite of many things this was a real delight.
The comment I must make which is sadly not always true was that the service was immaculate. On arrival we are seated and tended to, I point out to the waitress that I am not well and I would like her to bring more water than normal, she courteously refills my glass with my preferred water time and time again without requiring prompting. Eventually when I have drunk significant imported water she makes sure that I still want bottled rather than free water in a very polite manner. Additionally due to being ill I had drunk little of the bottle of wine we had ordered, at the end of the meal they looked sympathetically at me and not only offered to let us take the rest of the bottle but also decanted it back into the bottle and gave us a signature carry bag to take it home in. At no time was I left without my needs attended to but I never felt like the waiters were hovering or imposing; the perfect balance of front of house service to be duly commended.
Some high quality restaurants you go to just to try, others become emotional favourites and this was definitely in the latter category. I am often dubious about celebrity chefs but I can't help but feel that Mangan has earnt his reputation; the menu, food quality, service and decor are on top all the way. I can only recommend Glass for the next time you have a special date or reason to celebrate.