Monday, November 14, 2011

The Darling, Pyrmont

We flew back from Los Angeles last week, and ended up staying at the brand new The Darling hotel, part of The Star (Casino) in Pyrmont - after an $850m redevelopment.  Along with all the PGA golfers including Tiger Woods and Greg Norman.  In fact Tiger's huge 'goons' obviously thought I was a security risk to him as I seemed to be waiting for someone every time he was in the foyer.  Due to a mix up, we were given a gorgeous two room suite, with the largest bathroom/dressing room.
So we decided to try all the new restaurants in the newly revamped casino complex.

Sokyo.  We visited Sokyo restaurant twice.  Fabulous bar right off the reception foyer.  Amazing decor.  Trendy vibe.
Fabulous food - nearly as good as Nobu LA, and certainly fabulous for Sydney offerings.  No surprise to find out the Chef is the ex Worldwide Nobu Head Chef - at 29 years of age!
As it was over a week ago and we did go twice in the same week, I really can't remember all the dishes we had, and regretfully I didn't take photos.   On both occasions we also left our choices up to our waiter.   The standout for me was the Spicy Tuna on Crisp Rice and the Lamb Cutlets.  The fresh fish was so amazing.  Every dish was a surprise.  And they served warm Saki in a small clear glass, which was a lovely way to drink it.

Osteria Balla.  Stefano Manfredi's latest venture was disappointing to say the least.

It looks pretty, especially on a full moon night, and if you read his CV, you would expect an amazing meal.
The bar is jammed into the side of the restaurant overlooking the huge casino entrance albeit with a good view, but is separated from the restaurant by a rather unnecessarily large bar preparation area.  Ditto with the restaurant.  The design was clearly altered to provide Stefano with a 'stage' kitchen almost larger than the restaurant where he can 'parade' at the pass - which he sure did.  Someone raised this entire area, meaning that lifts designed to open directly into the restaurant are lower than the floor, and the bathroom doors are also too low.  Our tall son had to duck to enter.  Huge areas of waste space - stupid really. 

The food was overall disappointing.  To start I ordered the Quaglie e cipolle all'aceto di Barbera
(wood-grilled quails, onions, Barbera vinegar) as did Hal.  Not bad, tender, but a bit bland and pale.     I then ordered the lamb, Spalla d'agnello al pangrattato (wood-grilled lamb shoulder, herbs, breadcrumbs), as did my son,  and that's what we got.  Lovely barbeque flavour, cooked perfectly and very tender, but dry.  A little Aoli wouldn't have gone astray.  Hal ordered Maccheroncini, gamberi di fiume e sesamo (maccheroncini, butter, parmesan, yabbies, sesame) which was apparently 'not bad'.  We did order Patate al forno (roast rosemary potatoes) - of course, and though delicious, it was a tiny serve.  We really should have been advised to order greens of some kind.

Wouldn't rush back.

Black by Ezard.  The restaurant is on the same level as Balla, separated by the huge three level atrium entrance for the Casino. Very cool, dark interior, but a lovely buzz as soon as you enter.  You feel like you are in good hands. 
The service was excellent.  We decided to order mains only and splurge on the sides, which all sounded amazing.  The note above the mains states "Our signature seafood main courses are poached in Hawaiian ocean water before being served".
The Blue Eye special with a Quinoa and coconut sauce poured over at the table - delicious.
Striploin - Grain fed Angus 350g  - cooked to perfection and apparently fabulous.
The Veal Tenderloin, sweetbreads, asparagus, mushrooms, natural jus
And the sides -
Spring Peas (Buttered, pearl onions, bacon)
Mushrooms (Ragout, fine herbs, golden pastry)
Asparagus (Grilled, crispy prosciutto, quail egg)
Tempura (Cauliflower, brocollini, gruyere sauce)
Baby Lettuces (Grapefruit, almonds, tarragon dressing)

Watercress (Apple, celery, walnut, blue cheese)
and of course, Fries.

As this was all so delicious, we had to try a dessert - Passionfruit Cream
(Macadamia financier, mango sorbet, dried coconut).    Really lovely.
We certainly were in good hands and congratulations to the Chef Teage Ezard and Executive Chef Michael Tripp.

Not cheap, but value for money.

Blue Eye Dragon.  As we could not get into Momofuku, we heard about a Taiwianese Restaurant across the road called Blue Eye Dragon run by mother and daughter - Jade and Muriel Chen.
 Fabulous entry gates.
It has many awards, so we can't believe we've never heard of it, especially as its speciality is dumplings.   And they sell them frozen for parties.  Forget parties, I could eat them morning noon and night!
And even has a cookbook, which I was tempted to purchase (before I tasted the food).
It's in an old church hall, and cleverly but sparsely decorated.
In all fairness, we had had a business lunch that day so were completely not hungry.  But we just had to order the dumplings -

Chicken Won-Tong with House Chilli Sauce - interesting but the sauce a bit too 'tomatoey'.  That is them on the front of the cookbook above.

Pan Fried Pork Dumplings with Chives, Ginger and Shallot - too 'solid' and very gingery.
Prawn Dumplings with Water Chestnuts, Shallots & Chinese Celery - again, very 'solid'.
 Salt & Pepper Prawns - plump generous fresh prawns
then a main of
Tofu Stuffed with Minced Pork on Hot Plate - the tofu just a bit too firm and
Prawn Fried Rice - which was delicious.

I have to admit I wouldn't buy their dumplings - much rather buy from Din Tai Fung which now has a shop in the food hall in the Casino, and in fact we bought some to take away for Sunday dinner.  They were fabulous and very moorish.

Food was okay, but I wouldn't rush back.  And I never did buy the cookbook.

No comments:

Post a Comment