20 October 2012

The Bentley: Modern Australian and Contemporary Dishes, Surry Hills (1 Dec 2011)

320 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Dining for the modern palate 

I've noticed over the last few years a rise in popularity of deconstructed dishes that are less about presenting a single piece of protein with side of vegetables and more about spreading the ingredients aka elements around the plate and making it look like a piece of art. I've found trying to get a bit of everything on your fork to taste together can often be the first challenge. Remembering all the ingredients in the dish is the next challenge when dishes include lots of elements so I often need to refer back to the menu. Dishes like this can seem contrived but for diners a bit tired of the basic meat and three veg dish up it provides visual entertainment. If a dish has around 3-5 main elements it tends to work better for me than a dish heading towards 10 and over risking palate overload. Jacques Reymond was a restaurant that feel under this style of dining and I knew I was missing the appeal when I found the most amazing dish was the complimentary cheese choux pastry appetiser. The Bentley was fondly recommended to me by friends and had been on my wish list for a while so I took the plunge to try. 

An Alpine Martini ($17) and decent Mocktail ($8) with good quality complimentary bread was a nice start. Coffin Bay Oysters ($4 each) were freshly shucked and did justice to one of my favourite pacifics. Entrees and mains is where the fun begins or challenge to appreciate what's going on the plate. Balmain bug with lamb sweetbread, black bean and coconut curd ($28) was perhaps one of the preferred dishes of the night and somewhat cushioned my fear of lamb sweetbreads. The Beef tartare with liquid wasabi ($15) was quite flavoursome although would have loved it better if served with wafer thin crostinis like at Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse. Eating a plate of raw meat is already a challenge in itself. The Smoked eel parfait with white soy, kombu & seaweed ($15) was like a modern sculpture ready to flutter off the plate with its wafer thin wings. I think I liked the presentation more than the palate appeal though. Maize chips ($8) were quite different and done well but give me potato chips any day. 

Baby guinea fowl with globe artichoke, zucchini flower & toast ($36) seemed quite expensive for not much on the plate but loved the perfect crispy skin the best. For me this dish is a good example of a deconstructed dish. Cutting up ingredients in small pieces combined with playful arrangements which ends up costing more for less on the plate. Perhaps not good for those on a tight budget and needing to be filled. I liked the flavour combination of Pork belly with wattle, garlic milk & rhubarb ($26) and for dessert the Blood peach with sesame meringue, nougat & apricot sorbet ($18) was another perfect example of a deconstructed dish. Enjoyable flavours once you managed to get a bit of everything on your spoon although the nougat tended to really stick to your teeth which I didn't find enjoyable. For something more rich go for the Honeycomb chocolate bar ($8) to satisfy the most eager of sugar kicks.

PROS: Nice decor and ambience, Interesting dish presentation and flavour combination to challenge a diner looking for something different, Professional service (although maybe a little distant)
CONS: Can be expensive, Small portions, You'll need to order a few dishes to feel full, Street parking in the area can be a challenge
MUST TRY: Trying it at least once if you're looking for something different to the norm
VERDICT: A restaurant that pushes the boundaries that might be an acquired taste for some including myself
Alpine Martini - Square One Vodka, St Germain, Mastiha, Cucumber ($17), Mocktail ($8)

2010 Longbend Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, NZ ($9 glass)

Bread complimentary

Coffin Bay Oysters ($4 each)

Balmain bug with lamb sweetbread, black bean and coconut curd ($28)

Beef tartare with liquid wasabi ($15) - quite flavoursome although would have loved thin crostinis to put it on to eat with

Smoked eel parfait with white soy, kombu & seaweed ($15) - very interesting presentation

Maize chips ($8) - quite different and done well but prefer normal potato chips or polenta chips

Baby guinea fowl with globe artichoke, zucchini flower & toast ($36) - seemed expensive for very little on the plate

Loved the crispy skin the best

Pork belly with wattle, garlic milk & rhubarb ($26) - flavours seem to work well together

Blood peach with sesame meringue, nougat & apricot sorbet ($18) - nice flavour although nougat tends to stick to your teeth when eating

Honeycomb chocolate bar ($8) - rich flavour

Hot ricotta dumplings ($6)

Hot chocolate ($4) - good chocolate flavour, Latte ($4)

Bill $229 for two

Interesting hanging lights

Flat table supports gets a tick from me

Clean and tidy toilet

A privacy screen between the sink and urinal gets a tick from me

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Bentley Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon


Richard Elliot said...

Bentley was one of the places that was always on my radar, but I never quite made it to.

At $229 for two it seems quite expensive and I'd definitely be expecting more guinuea fowl for my money.

gaby @ lateraleating said...

Every dish looks perfect and much fancier than what I'd expect based solely on how the place looks like.

OohLookBel said...

I really want to eat at Bentley because the dishes are presented so beautifully. Thanks for commenting on their size and the pics of the menu. Also, I thought they'd have tablecloths, given the fanciness of the place?

Simon Leong said...

hi richard, $229 is expensive but i guess that's what a fancy place can cost these days. i guess there's not many place in sydney that create and present dishes like The Bentley does.

hi gaby, i know what you mean. being in the heart of crown st makes it very accessible perhaps.

hi bel, if you have a few more slices of bread will always fill you up a bit more :-)

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