Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner

I eat out so much it seemed to be a waste to go out for an overly crowded set dinner menu for Valentine's Day so instead we had a romantic dinner at home. The good thing about dating another foodie is that you know you can trust him to pick up the pieces without guidance!

For once the dining table isn't covered in gaming equipment!

Tintilla Estate 2005 Shiraz

Grain fed aged Scotch Fillet

Heirloom tomatoes and Spanish onion macerated with sugar and balsamic

Salad of mixed leaves, onion, avocado and herb goat's cheese dressed with olive oil and lime

Coconut tarts and Walnut macaroons

Assorted chocolates from Bon Bon Fine Chocolates

... all wrapped up with kisses, cards and the right kind of off colour humour.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review: Sean's Kitchen, Star City Casino Pyrmont

When you think of Casino food you probably think of cheap buffets and $5 steak vouchers, but Sean's Kitchen is anything but. The warm classy interior is hidden on an elevated floor above and behind the gaming floor so that the blinking bleeping poker machines are out of sight and out of mind.

Sean's Kitchen specialise in European charcuterie and good quality Australian beef and seafood and it is a great restaurant for a celebration meal. We were off for a birthday, the boy's this time and after a not so pleasant day at work for both of us it was time to wash away the stress with some good wine and excellent food.

Veuve Clicquot by the glass $27

Flavours of Jamon Charcuterie plate $40

If you've never had Spanish ham this is a great way to try it as a progression of Fermin Serrano, Seven Hermanos Iberico de Bellota and Fermin Iberico de Bellota. Jamon Iberico de Bellota is a high quality ham cut from acorn fed Black Iberian pigs. High in fat and raised without stress this is the kobe of pork and the small amounts in the serving are deceptively filling. Served as it should be with good quality bread and pickles this is a great start to any celebration meal.

Liver Parfait and toasted brioche $17

I of course have to order the liver parfait and this is an excellent rendition made with chicken livers but cut with duck fat and sieved to perfection. This is a very heavy and large serving and would probably have done for both of us if only the boy ate liver. Generally I am not a fan of aspic sealing on pate however this is a sweet balsamic jelly that I am rather fond of, especially as the dish did not come with a chutney or other sweet acid to cut through the fat. The brioche is simply excellent, heavy and rich and toasted perfectly.

2005 St Henri Shiraz $157

It's a celebration meal so I decide to splash out on a bottle of the St Henri, easily one of my favourite wines and just perfect with a rich steak meal. The St Henri is the more affordable second cousin to the Penfold's Grange and the 2005 is a recent release but already at drinkable age, especially after being properly decanted. The wine itself is dark and luscious, heavy on berry tastes with a spicey touch similar to tobacco leaf, highly recommended with aged beef.

Dry aged Rib Eye 500g (on the bone) $58

Grass fed Greenham Natural Scotch Fillet 350g $42

Both steaks are perfectly cooked, my rib eye shows no innappropriate scorching on the bone and the more delicate grass fed beef is perfectly rested and sealed. I am less of a fan of the grass fed beef which has a 'younger' taste but we both enjoy the meat spectacularly. Be aware that Sean's Kitchen is of the "if you order a steak, you only get the steak" philosophy of things so be ready to order sides separately.

A choice of sauces is given, we ask for both mustards and veal jus. The jus is to be recommended they have a marvelous sous chef preparing this to perfection; rich, clear and succulent the tiniest amount provides a lingering taste sensation. There are a number of higher marble steaks on the menu including two wagyu steaks however after our experience of being bested by the meal at Glass we decide to avoid the richer choices.

Mustards and Murray River Salt provided with main meal

Butter whipped potatoes $9

Why yes that is a small pool of melted butter you can see in the side of the image. Be sparing with the spoon as this puree is more butter than potato and could easily remove your appetite for the delicious meats.

Baby cos salad with Chardonnay dressing $9

A kitchen hand with OCD has carefully selected and placed these lettuce leaves with peculiar care however they really are delicious and the perfect accompaniment to the rich food.

Remy Martin $15 (back) and Hennessy $18 (front) VSOP Cognac

Nothing particularly fancy here I just rather like a glass of cognac at the end of a rich meal. To be honest I rather wish I'd poured it in my coffee (because I am a bad person).

Panna cotta with Mango $12 with Espresso $5

The test of good service is to be fussy and see how they respond. Sean's Kitchen dutifully brought me soy milk, on the side, removed elements of the dessert and replaced them to order. This dessert should be served with strawberries and a coulis, neither of which I'm particularly fond of. The staff changed the orders readily and brought all items out as I had asked for them in record time, to be commended. The panna cotta sadly I cannot recommend after all that, it was a "yoghurt pannacotta" twist on the classic that left the texture slightly dense and not at all quivering. Sad news indeed.

Valrhona chocolate mousse with Blood orange sorbet and caramelised blood orange $12

The boy's dessert was far more successful (his photography not so much so) and much larger than expected. The dark chocolate mousse goes surprisingly well with the bitter sweet blood orange - if you're expecting overtones of Jaffa you will be disappointed. Still the heavy sweetness and crisp acid make an excellent mix particularly with the textural surprise of the chocolate crisp.

I must make mention of these delightful vintage style butcher's etchings that are printed on the tableware, it's this kind of sweet but macabre note that I think makes Sean's Kitchen a little more endearing.

The service at Sean's Kitchen also deserves a serious nod, while not silver service the hustle and bustle is kept out of chaos by an army of service staff that somehow still make you feel as though you are being especially attended to. That itself is an art form and here it is executed wonderfully. Sommelier's are dispatched with care, French bread boys appear like Carbohydrate Ninjas and the waitress managed to memorise the entire meal order prattled off by a starving gourmande without so much as a blink or a flash of paper. Combined with my fussy dessert ordering it really is something worth noting.

Next time you're looking for a really good steak in Sydney think about Sean's Kitchen, keep your head down in in the gaming room and march upstairs for a rich but soul satisfying dining experience.

Sean's Kitchen at Star City‎

80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont 2009, Australia
(02) 9777 9000

Formal dining, fully licensed
Not family or party friendly

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