“...we are just excited to get the doors open and do what we do best” - Guillaume Brahimi (Broadsheet, 8th August 2014)
As eagerly anticipated by Guillaume and his team as it has been by diners! I finally set aside a night to experience it for myself!
The website was yet to launch, so the excitement about the menu was the topic of discussion in the cab ride over...
"What do you think he'll keep from Bennelong?" "Ohh I hope the Tuna is still on the menu!!" "Can't wait... so hungry!!"
With rumbling tummies and the 9 months of waiting... 'we couldn't wait', is an understatement.
Greeted by name with familiar smiles, set the tone of the evening - friendly, personal with exceptional attention to detail. Our coats were taken and we were directed upstairs to the dining room. As we rounded the corner, my eyes lit up - the setting was stunning, yet informal. I instantly felt I had been transported into a home in France, as though I were dining with friends in the heart of Paris.
Ever detail had been carefully considered, handpicked from the wallpaper - the chairs - the wines on display in the dining room.
We were seated and our waiter explained our menu options - without a second thought we selected the degustation with matching wines... you only live once...
We started with some bread and butter (always to die for, soo smooth!) while we eagerly awaited our first dish..
The first course was the amuse-bouche - simply stunning and definitely got us salivating for the meal to come.. crab served with a silky avocado mousse and a zesty twist of lime to cut through the rich meat.. (left) and served alongside, was a tasty little morsel that was reminiscent of a sushi roll. Filled with prawn and wrapped in a basil leaf, this dish was inspired and prepared us for an exquisite meal!
Our first wine for the evening was served by our Sommelier, Tim - 2012 Glaetzer-Dixon "goldpunkt" Riesling from Tasmania - this was matched with one of the dishes that was kept on the menu from Bennelong. "We kept some of the favourites" Guillaume explained later in the evening. The Yellowfin Tuna with basil, soy and mustard seed, is one of my personal favourites and I was very excited to see it still on the menu!
The Riesling paired beautifully with the tuna, the acid and citrus notes of the wine cut through the oil fish nicely.
The air was filled with the hum of quiet conversation and contentment.. as we awaited our next course..
The Royale of Globe Artichoke, with truffle, mud crab and barigoule vinaigrette was nothing short of amazing.. the textures in this dish were perfect. A surprisingly flavour packed dish, continuing with the seafood theme. Our sommelier paired this dish with a 2010 Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Vieilles Vignes Melon de Bourgogne from the Loire valley in France. Made from old vines, this luscious wine cut through the rich Royale. It was a textural wine that carried it's own with this course.
I opted for reds, so our sommelier chose the 2010 Main Divide Pinot Noir from Waipara Valley NZ to complement the dish. It was a zesty wine and being a Pinot Noir was on the lighter side which made it a perfect match to this dish... I think I have found a new favourite wine ;) I have to say I think my guests were quietly jealous of my decision to start the reds a course early..
Salivating, our plates were cleared and we took the chance to take in the atmosphere of the restaurant. The waitstaff glided around the room effortlessly attending to the diners. Every item in the room was carefully chosen and purposefully placed to create a warm and homely feel to the room.
Next up, the Marron served with pork cheek, broad beans, cauliflower and sea spray... an interpretation of "surf and turf".. at it's finest! It was an outstanding dish. So balanced and texturally exciting... Every component on the plate played a part... Continuing with reds, our sommelier chose another Pinot Noir.
The 2010 Chambolle-Musigny Pinot Noir Domaine Collotte from Burgundy, France. This Pinot Noir was much richer and fuller in its fruity flavour. The richness of the pork cheek and meatiness of the marron required a more full bodied wine to compete. The wine had evident earthy notes to it which was balanced by the fragrant cherry, red berry fruit notes.
We were pleasantly surprised to receive a surprise dish from the Chef whilst we waited for our next course.. A seared scallop with artichoke, truffle and a chicken jus. The scallop was warm and cooked to perfection.. with a slight crust. This little morsel was a perfectly balanced mouthful.. and left us wanting more!
We began to move into the "mains" with our next dish. The Patagonian Toothfish served with globe artichoke, spinach, lemon and oyster. Not seen on most menus, the Toothfish is a sustainable, versatile fish. With it's firm, flakey texture this white oily fish is appearing on more menus across Sydney. With the creamy spinach sauce, this dish was a winner at our table... The hint of lemon finished this dish beautifully. Our sommelier matched a home grown, local wine from Mudgee to this course. An Eloquestra wine "a boy with fruit" is an interesting and unique blend of a the varietals Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The winemaker here has managed to extract the best characteristics of each to form a beautifully aromatic, fruit driven wine..
Being gluten free.. the next course saw us go our separate ways...
1. Peas and Broad Beans, tortellini, créme fraîche, tarragon
2. John Dory, carrot and ginger puree, coriander and pommes allumettes
We all enjoyed a glass of 2012 The Lane Block 14 Shiraz from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. It was rich, with black fruits, licorice notes and a peppery spice to it. It is a softer, silkier Shiraz with it's soft tannins and paired nicely to both our dishes.
My guests loved their tortellini and it was so beautifully plated! As though the tortellini were swimming amongst the tarragon créme fraîche...
My John Dory is a personal favourite from Bennelong.. so naturally I was excited to see it make an appearance on my menu! The carrot and ginger puree is simply stunning and matched with the seared fish is to die for... the contrasting crunch of the pomme allumettes atop the fish adds another texture to the dish.
The final savoury course was the Robbins Island Full Blood Wagyu with shimeji mushrooms, baby spinach and a merlot sauce.. served alongside the famous Guillaume mash potato.. (never get sick of that velvety mash.. it is so smooth it literally melts on your tongue!) The Wagyu meat was luxurious and rich .. with a very generous portion! The earthy mushrooms and deep merlot sauce gave this dish character and complexity.. a fabulous finish!
The finale was matched to a 2008 Bellwether Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra. With a long finish, this wine is full bodied with a palate of dark fruits and dark chocolate notes. A great match the this meaty dish with the boldness of the wine and smooth finish.
To prepare us for dessert we enjoyed a blood orange sorbet, palate cleanser... so zingy and refreshing! A perfect way to get ready for a sweet finish!
But alas who could forget the CHEEESE...
No meal of mine would be complete without an outstanding cheese course, as most of you should know by now. My second question after "Could I please have the degustation with matching wines gluten free please" was "Can I please swap the dessert course for a cheese course....?"
But at Guillaume, you get to have your cheese and dessert - and eat it too!
This cheese board was not only visually stunning but presented a fantastic selection of French and Australian cheeses. Alongside was a range of crackers, fruits and condiments.
We devoured the cheese faster than I care to admit... and washed it down with a glass of NV Sanchez Romate Hnos Fino Perdido Jerez-Sherry.. the slightly nutty characteristics of this wine made it a perfect cheese accompaniment!
Now for most of us.. there is always room for dessert - especially when you are celebrating a special occasion!
One of our guests was having a birthday and he was lucky enough to be spoiled by the wait and kitchen staff! His Madagascar Vanilla Bean creme brulee was decorated with birthday wishes and a candle! We all sang Happy Birthday and toasted in his honour!
We finished the meal on a sweet note with a 2013 Frogmore Creek Iced Riesling from Tasmania.. with mandarin, apple and subtle honey tones this wine was a lovely match to the brulee and green apple. The crispness of the iced wine helped cut through the sweet and creamy dessert.
As we sat in an empty restaurant.. always the last to leave.. we got lost in conversation about the meal and our favourite parts! The waitstaff were patient and made us feel welcome as we sipped the last of our wines and relished in our Petit Fours.. each one more delectable than the last.. tiny little sweet morsels to finish an outstanding menu..
An 11/10... I would highly recommend Guillaume's in Paddington. Guillaume has created yet another venue that captures a feeling and generates a unique atmosphere that you can't help but want to be a part of. The attention to detail and the warmth this restaurant has makes its diners feel welcomed and at home. The staff are friendly and accommodating and nothing is too much effort. Every member of his team goes above and beyond to make your experience a night to remember.. I can't wait to go back..
Until next time.. happy eating x