Friday, January 14, 2011

Quay - The Number One?

Remember months ago, I worked part time at a merchandise stall at the Victoria Market? Despite being in my final semester of university life, I was still adamant on taking up the job for one reason: to earn enough money to cover my holiday expenses.

And one of the main reasons was this: QUAY.

After watching the grand finale of Masterchef, Jenna and I decided that we HAVE TO try their tasting menu, and the snow egg too, given all the hype. We planned our trip to Sydney, booked our air tickets, and saved enough for Quay's degustation menu. And there we were.

My high school darling, Zef, who is a foodie too, decided to tag along.

And may I introduce to you another one of my close friend here in Melbourne - Eddie, Jenna's boyfriend - who flew in to Sydney that arvo and turned up that evening to surprise Jenna after some secret-planning we did. Ain't she one lucky girl? ;) 

But maybe not as lucky as Eddie to have three beautiful ladies accompany him to dinner? :P *self-praise wtf* When we excused ourselves to the restroom halfway through the dinner, this cute Italian wait staff (who winked at me) walked over and asked Eddie, "How did you do it? You gotta teach me!" LOL! xD

Our tasting menu kicked off with this complimentary starter - silky goat's milk with ox tail consommé. It was so good we licked it empty! At that point in time, I thought, "Even the starter is THIS good already, this dinner is gonna be so awesome." 

Or so I thought. Everything started going downhill following our starter. Our first entrée was the smoked eel and sea scallop pearl with horseradish. Unfortunately, both Jenna and I cannot recall how this tasted like (which shows how unmemorable it is) but well, I remember it being not too bad.

Next up we had the salad of pink turnips and breakfast radishes, violets, olives, pine resin, balsamico. No doubt about me being mesmerized at the pretty presentation, but taste-wise? It was nothing too spectacular either.

It was followed with the gentle braise of pearl oyster, served with southern rock lobster, shaved squid, tapioca, lettuce heart, oyster cream, pea flowers.

This was the WORST dish ever - there's this fishy taste that lingered in my mouth after I finished it, and may I add: Any dishes that leaves a fishy taste lingering in your mouth is just plain-meh.

I was already on the brink of letting out a loud cry, when we were served with our first main course - butter poached coturnix quail breast, served with chestnuts, truffle, bitter chocolate black pudding, milk skin, walnuts.

Although Jenna didn't quite appreciate that the meat was served medium rare, but I kinda liked it! Yet at the same time, rather disappointed due to the fact that they wouldn't allow their fellow diners to decide how we would like our meat done.

This - crisp confit of pig belly, served with green lipped abalone and cuttlefish, handmade silken tofu, Japanese mushrooms, chive flowers - isn't on the tasting menu, but Eddie added it on for $35. This dish was quite good, but the pork belly didn't have a cracking effect which I would have preferred. 

 Next up on our tasting menu was the poached Blackmore wagyu fillet, served with Tasmanian wasabi, morels. I won't say it's the best wagyu I've ever had, but it was good nonetheless.

Only thing we weren't happy about was the portion. It was miserable; I can recall Zef saying, "I give my cat also it won't get full." It's true, y'know... Two bites, and all gone. Meh! :$ 

By the time we were at the last main course - slow braised Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil - I was already more disappointed than ever, I had no expectations whatsoever left.

But as I cut through the crackling maltose and savored a piece of it all in my mouth, I was actually a tad overwhelmed at how the jowl could taste so yums. So yes, I surprisingly enjoyed this a lot, although Jenna wanted to puke at the smell of the maltose and had Eddie finish up her dish.

Zef didn't want to have pig jowl, so she opted to change for the roasted bass groper, served with kabu turnips, hairymelon, hasumo, radish pods, garlic scapes, vongole juices, oyster cream. And according to Zef, this tasted like McD's fish fillet. (T_T)""" Nuff' said.

And then it was time for the overrated white nectarine snow egg that I was so looking forward to. You have no idea how much I was beaming inside, despite the previous courses.

Dessert was my thing; they make me happy. So if this was good, it could help make up for the disappointment that had settled in me. It could redeem the entire tasting experience... 

Well, could have. But it failed to. It was refreshing yes, but not overwhelming!  The white nectarine flavor was so subtle it was almost non-existent.

In short, it's lack of flavor enables me to taste only sweetness, and nothing else. Does it taste as good as it looks? No. Spectucular? No. Worth all the hype? No. 

And as if the snow egg wasn't disappointing enough, our next dessert - preserved wild cherry compote, coconut cream, chuao chocolate crumble, and milk meringue crystals - was beyond yucks! Oh gawd, this was just SO DISASTROUS to the extent that all of us did not finish it! Yes, it was THAT bad.

Thankfully for Eddie and Zef, the eight texture chocolate cake featuring Amedei Chocolate saved their taste buds. Eddie added this on to his course for $25, and while both himself and Zef loved it, Jenna and I couldn't take more than a spoon of it. It was without a shadow of doubt, nice, but too rich for our liking.

To wrap up the tasting menu, we were served with coffee/tea and petit four. They were even nice enough to pack up two extra chocolates in little boxes for us to bring home. I gave them all away, since I wasn't in the mood to have any more chocolates.

Sadly, Quay did not live up to my expectations. Although the dishes showed brilliant techniques and were artistically presented, but the food lacks the mind-blowing factor. It was nothing close to wow. AT ALL.

It is sad to report that the food does not compliment our tastebuds, and that we were highly disappointed given its ratings as the Number 1 restaurant in Australia, and also the fact that it is so highly priced.

In my honest opinion, I'd never return to the Quay again, and would never recommend their tasting menu. Well, not unless they wish to redeem themselves and invite us for a second round to make up for the bad experience that we had. Ha, ha!

Having said that though, if you're looking for a dining venue with spectacular views and if that is all that matters to you, then maybe you'd like to try Quay. Otherwise, I'd say: go elsewhere please.

Quay on Urbanspoon
A friend said though, "If the critics could all give Quay thumbs up and ranked it as Australia's Number 1 restaurant, then the problem could lie within the four of you." As voted on Urbanspoon, 82% liked it, so well, you decide for yourself. Hmmm... Just don't say I didn't warn you! ;)

Nevertheless, cheers to a night of GREAT company! :)


Celeste @ Berrytravels said...

Really sucks that you didn't have a good experience. Definitely makes me rethink wanting to get there. Esp with that bill at the end!!

Sometimes... the hype way outweighs the actual worth of a restaurant.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

too high of an expectation is why the meal was spoilt i reckon.

i like how some dishes were a bit out of the blue..oh well, i havent heard of good things coming out from Aria are all the celeb chefs that feature in Masterchef not that great after all?

Michelle Chin said...

I'm sorry that your meal turned out this way. You should have went to tetsuya's instead.

- m i c h e l l e - said...


Joe: That's true, I had too high of an expectation. And we agreed that most celeb chefs featured in Masterchef are not that great.

Mich: Yeah I know right, my friends and I said the same thing. The same 10 course, but cheaper.

thanh7580 said...

I agree with Joe in that sometimes too much expectation leads to disappointment. But for all four of you to think it was bad, either the flavour profiles are just not to your liking or they were having an off night. It would be unlikely for so many critics to get it all wrong. But as you say, only 82% of people on Urbanspoon like it, which means 18% didn't. You could just be in that group, for whatever reasons. Hence the arena of food critiqueing is always so interesting, as we all tastes things differently.

Despite your review, I'd still be interested to try Quay and evaluate it for myself. And if it's bad, I'll curse my bad luck and say "If only I had listened to Michelle...." :-)

- m i c h e l l e - said...

Thanh: Yeah I think maybe it was just a bad night. Cox 2 of my cousins loved the food there, and they've been there like a couple of times already. I hope when you finally get to try it, you'd tell me, "Michelle, I'm the lucky 82%!"

nana0709 said...

i think the critics had different dishes to ours...and maybe theirs were good.

- m i c h e l l e - said...

I guess they constantly change their menu, and the tasting menu we tried was just horrible. Maybe we should give them another chance? LOL!

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