Coupon dining Sydney: Kent Street Kitchen
As a way of stretching the dining budget, Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband have investigated coupon dining in Melbourne with, admittedly, limited success. Quite a few restaurants we’ve been to on ‘deals’ have since met their demise and the closures weren’t entirely surprising.
And so on a recent trip to Sydney, we were persuaded to try a deal at the Langham Hotel’s Kent Street Kitchen. This was coupon ‘fine’ dining – a seven course tasting menu with matching wines, for A$199 for two people. The coupon also offered A$100 off the room cost if we’d booked to stay there but having already made our reservations elsewhere, we trundled off on a recent Saturday night to the restaurant with zero expectations.
But what a surprise. The food, from executive chef Thomas Heinrich and featuring a couple of recipes from British celebrity chef Marcus Wareing, was rated PDG – pretty damn good.
The hotel is in the northern area of the CBD in an area known as Miller’s Point, not far from one of the entrance ramps to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At the time of our visit it had only been renovated/rebranded as part of the Langham group for just over a year. The dining room is light and spacious; with little in the way of carpet it’s not exactly a quiet room but we were able to keep a conversation going with ease.
First up was a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne and the staff gave us plenty of time to sip that before the first little treat arrived, additional to the menu proper, a Vichyssoise with flecks of caviar on top. It was quite tasty but very thick. Still, not a bad way to begin.
Offered a warmed basket of bread, we chose a variety of small loaves and happily munched away. Two types of butter were provided – unsalted and an unusual maple syrup and walnut. The latter would be awesome on a stack of pancakes for breakfast but was too strong and sweet for Greedy Girl’s palate at the start of a meal.
Next was described as a watermelon and ginger tartar with marinated goats cheese and watercress. This was a very pretty plate and even Greedy Girl (not a huge fan of ginger) didn’t mind the way the melon was infused with the flavour. The highlight was the goats cheese, but there were only a few tiny dots of it. Greedy Girl wanted more. Greedy Girl pretty much always wants more. This dish was paired with a glass of Telmo Rodriguez ‘Basa’ Verdejo from Rueda in Spain. The sommelier said it was similar to a Sauvignon Blanc but was much more rounded and enjoyable than that style in Greedy Girl’s estimation. Not a bad pairing.
Next was spanner crab cannelloni served with truffled dwarf peach slices, green olive sauce, Parmesan foam and a liberal sprinkling of salmon roe. This was an enjoyable dish and the way the roe popped in the mouth was particularly delightful. The combination of flavours worked well, although there was no discernible truffle flavour coming from the peach. In fact, the peach didn’t have any real flavour either. This was paired with a Misha’s Vineyard Dress Circle Pinot Gris from New Zealand’s Central Otago. We didn’t enjoy the wine. It had a slight ‘wet dog’ odour and a sour aftertaste. We motioned to the sommelier and gave our feedback. She promptly returned with fresh glasses and a different Pinot Gris from the Freycinet Coast of Tasmania, called Spring Vale. This had all the lovely characteristics of Pinot Gris that Greedy Girl relishes. A nice touch by the sommelier to substitute something we didn’t enjoy at no additional cost.
We then moved to the first of two recipes provided by British celebrity chef Marcus Wareing, who consulted on the film ‘Burnt‘ starring Bradley Cooper. It was game farm quail, heirloom carrots, summer savoury and corn bread, pictured at the top of this post. For those who are wondering, summer savoury is a herb often used with game. This was a delicious dish; the quail was cooked well, particularly the little crumbed cutlet which was seasoned beautifully and amazingly tender. It went extremely well with the carrots, which had good texture, and the corn bread was to die for. Greedy Girl has implored gluttonous husband to seek out a recipe to make it at home. This was paired with a 2013 Kooyong Massale (essentially a Pinot Noir) from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Next up was a palate cleanser – a kale and mint granita with green apple and basil sorbet. This was right up gluttonous husband’s alley, who loves these flavours.
Our final savoury course was herb crusted Flinders Island salt grass lamb with zucchini, baby sweet corn, a slick of corn puree and blueberries. Again, a very nicely presented dish; the blueberries were presented two ways – full berries and dots of a sticky, syrupy sauce. The lamb was full of flavour, cooked beautifully with a lovely seared crust and pink in the middle, and the combination just delightful. It was paired with a 2010 Bordeaux – Chateau du Vallier. We were very happy with the pairing.
The final course was a dish Greedy Girl didn’t expect to enjoy – a mascarpone and blood orange cheesecake, topped with streusel, honeycomb and milk icecream, also a Marcus Wareing recipe. The streusel, made with almonds, had a delicious crunchy texture. The young Philippine pastry chef at Kent Street Kitchen added a crisp biscuit and a slick of a light caramel. It was refreshing, light, delicious. The pairing was the biggest surprise of the night – a Pressing Matters Riesling sweet wine from Tasmania. A beautiful nose, lovely on the palate, not at all cloying. It was inspired.
And so we were done – apart from a chocolate box from the pastry chef Miguel Jocson. That was taken back to the hotel for a sweet treat another day.
We happily chatted with our lovely Italian waiter Enrico who looked after us splendidly through the evening. He encouraged us to come back and try more from the chef. On any future Sydney trip we’d be very easily persuaded.
Kent Street Kitchen
Langham Hotel, 89 Kent Street, Sydney