Friday, 15 June 2012

Guillaume at Bennelong, Sydney Opera House

Question: What happens when you make your own yoghurt, grow your own herbs, catch public transport to work, make your own lunch each day/eat a budget savvy can of tuna, cut your own fringe, shop from supermarket bargain bins, have been wearing the same singlet/shoes since 2007 and purchase clothes only when they are on sale? Answer: You have enough money to treat yourself to an eight course degustation menu at Guillaume at Bennelong:)

I flew to Sydney last Friday evening where I joined my dear friend Alan for the delicious and eye pleasing menu. This was my first degustation experience and my first visit to Guillaume at Bennelong. I did not know what to expect and was so very excited! I dressed in my best work skirt for the occasion; the metal skirt! Alan wore a suit to suit the occasion. Huhuhu I am such a comedian :|

 The restaurant is located in the Sydney Opera House

Our table was booked for 8pm. In the two hours before the meal, we walked around Circular Quay and viewed the Vivid Sydney light show. I was a little disappointed with the light show. It was nice but...well, brace yourselves....Adelaide puts on a better light show :O SHOCKED! On the other hand, the Sydney light show actually attracts a crowd. So many people! Good on them for that.

Museum of Comtemporary Art

Circular Quay

We also visited the Opera Bar which is a bar inside/outside of the Sydney Opera House. We were disappointed with the amount of smokers at the bar and found it difficult to find a non smoking area outside. I gave the evil eye to a lady with a cigarette. Evil eyes; that is as tough as I get. We were also disappointed with the Merlot we purchased. I was very WEEE after only 3 sips of it! Alan confiscated the wine from me and said I should not drink such beverages. I agreed.

Closer to 8pm we walked over to the restaurant and to the beginning of our delicious evening:)

Near the cloak room and opposite this cafe area you will find the entrance to Guillaume at Bennelong. If you're thinking the above looks very 70s, you're not alone.

FYI, the bathrooms are also in this part of the Opera House. You need to go out of the restaurant to access them. Not really a problem, unless there is a show on. I was so amazed by the cubicle doors; they're CURVED! You have to see it to believe it! The bathroom is also so clean! SO CLEAN! Alan says the men's toilets are also very clean and have slimming mirrors. I did not notice the women's mirrors. I just looked in the mirror and thought 'Kim, you look so tired!  It is 4.5 hours past your bed time!'

The entrance, surrounded by awards 

Alan looking at the awards and being the happy kind of a boy he is

We walked into the restaurant and were ushered to a table by a waiter. The waiter noticed I had my luggage with me and offered to place it behind the front counter for safe keeping.

Harbour views Oooo ahhhh

The restaurant is very dimply lit. There are spotlights facing down on each table, but I found the light did not disperse very well. The chairs were so comfortable which pleased me. The 180-ish degree view of the harbour and Circular Quay are very impressive. Many twinkling lights surrounding you:) I also liked the fact that you could see the 'skeleton' of the Opera House on the roof as you see in the very first photo.

We looked over the menu and confirmed we would both have the eight course degustation. The waiter asked if either of us had any food allergies and we happily replied with a no. Alan ordered matching French wines and allowed me taste some of them. Huhuhu:) Much better than the Opera Bar's Merlot!

Let us go on a journey through eating, in style:)

Complimentary brioche

First we were offered complimentary breads. Those on offer were a brioche filled with some sort of onion mix and a sliced sourdough. I chose the brioche was I like the word brioche. It was scrumptious! Huhuhu:) Oh and it was even better with butter spread thickly on top. I enjoyed the brioche so much that I ate two throughout the night. Of course, the grains affected my digestive system and it is still not back to normal. It was worth it though:)
Oyster with cucumber jelly and yuzu cream

My very first degustation gave rise to my very first oyster experience. This dish for me, tasted like the potato salad my grandma makes as a result of the cucumber jelly. My grandma uses cucumber in her potato salad and it is very creamy, like this oyster was. Yes, a slight weird explanation but it did really taste like potato salad!

 Basil infused yellow fin tuna with soy and mustard seed vinaigrette (2009 Paul Blank Riesling, Alsace)

This tuna was beautiful. It was soft and quite delicate. Although wrapped in basil leaves, the basil taste was delightfully subtle. I could eat this all day. The only thing I did not like was the plate. I think it would have looked nicer on a white plate.

Royale of globe artichoke with mud crab and barigoule vinaigrette (2009 Domaine Pichot Coteau de la Biche, Vouvray, Loire Valley)

More firsts for me; globe artichoke royale. I did not have a clue what a royale was and had never tasted globe artichoke before. A royale is a sort of mousse and this royale was amazing. I am finding it really hard to describe this was just really good! I like vinegar and the vinaigrette went so well with the creamy royale. I did not think I liked crab (last time I consumed crab was back in the 1990s) but I have now changed my mind. As with the tuna, I could eat this all day. The only downside is the fact I found something hard in my dish. I am not sure what it was, but it was hard.

Scallops in lemon emulsion with watercress veloute and sterling caviar (2010 Bergerie de L'Hortus Classique, Montferrand)

Oooo it is so pretty! That was my remark to the waiter, because I tell the truth! There was a flower on the plate! Ahhhh! The scallops were yummy though I could not really taste the caviar (another first for me). Most likely a result of combining it with everything on the plate and not tasting it by itself.

John dory with carrot and ginger puree, coriander and pomme allumettes (2010 Patrick Piuze Terroir de Fye, Chablis)

Record 'carrot and ginger puree' on your 'to eat' list. I was at first doubtful but the combination is a winner. The fish was lovely but I was just amazed by the puree. The baby carrots were definitely 'baby' carrots. The 'fuzzy' golden things are the pomme allumettes, which are deep fried potato matchsticks. They complimented the softness of the puree and the fish very well. Soft and crunchy together. Scrunchy? Yum yum.

Grimaud duck, sweet potato and foie gras puree, figs, radicchio and balsamic jus (2009 Domaine Dominique Guyon Le Dames de Vergy, Haut Cotes de Nuits, Burgund)

I was pleased that duck was on the menu. I like duck and unfortunately do not eat it very often as I am too scared to cook it. I am pondering why the menu mentioned plural figs, as there was a slice of a fig on my plate. Not a problem as it was so tasty and I was becoming slightly full from all the food.

Alan remarked that the foie gras (fatty liver) tasted like baby food his grandma used to make him:) Must have been some baby food. The duck was soft and juicy and went very well combined with the fig and charred sweet potato. I also enjoyed the warming Wintery colour coordination of the food on the plate.

Deboned rib eye of tajima wagy beef (500 day grain fed, F1 marble grade 9+) field mushrooms, baby spinach, confit of shallot, merlot sauce and creamy mashed potato (2005 Chateau Tour du Haut-Moulin Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux)

The steak was so tender, juicy and a beautiful pink colour. It was a small piece, but that was all you needed. I did not find the mushrooms to be that special, but the mash was something else. It was so creamy! Unfortunately we only received one spoon of mash, carefully placed onto our plates. I would have eaten more, though that would only have left less room for dessert. Alan mentioned that on a previous visit he was able to order a bowl of mash. It seems that the steak now includes mash.

Fresh raspberries, pistachio gateaux, vanille cream, creme brulee and raspberry sorbet

Perfect taste and texture combination on this plate. Plus, it is so pretty! Soft, sweet, delicious raspberries. Smooth real vanilla cream. Slightly crumbly pistachio cake. Creamy creme brulee. Chilled raspberry sorbet which really tasted like raspberries! Next to the sorbet was some sort of crumble. They were the perfect match. This plate was one of my favourites. At first it looks quite sweet and unassuming. You taste it and are pleasantly surprised at how much more there is to this very attractive dish.

Valrhona chocolate souffle with vanilla bean and cherry ripple ice cream (2009 Domaine des Bernadins, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rhone Valley)

The evening ended with a handsome looking souffle. I was looking forward to the souffle all night as I had never eaten one before...well, apart from the one I made the other week. Epic fail. This souffle, as the muffin tops on Seinfeld, had risen from the depths of the little copper tin. Beside the souffle was a spoon of vanilla bean and cherry ripple icecream, which the waiter placed inside the souffle.

The souffle was chocolatey, gooey and warm. It was much gooier than I thought it would have been. I thought souffles were like sponge cakes, but they're not. They're kind of spongey on the outside and similar to a runny pudding in the middle. Half way through the souffle, I was sure I could not eat anymore. I think a souffle half the size would have been more than enough. The price tag of the dessert however, provided me with the motivation top polish it off.

Alan unfortunately seems to have a bad stomach reaction to semi cooked egg whites (which you find in a souffle) and felt sick afterwards:( NO SOUFFLE FOR YOU, Alan! In order to protect Alan from future episodes of stomach pain, I will need to play the part of a souffle nazi.

I enjoyed the matching wine with this dessert. It was the most fragrant wine I have ever tasted. Consensus held that it was floral, white flowers to be precise. I highly recommend:)

With all those dishes in my very expandable stomach, the metal skirt had become tighter against my middle.

That was the food, which I enjoyed very much. I was highly impressed with my first degustaton. No two dishes tasted the same and each was presented in its own unique way. Alan enjoyed the wines very much and smiled a lot:) There was nothing I did not like and I would eat it all again if I could:) I liked the fact that the food was real and not diluted with a pile of grains (think breakfasts- you get a tiny fried egg and a big piece of evil bread).

The service? Wellll.....It could have been better. Alan commented that the standard was much higher on a previous visit. That is why he went back! This was why he took me along! If the service had matched the quality of the food, I would have been very impressed. Unfortunately some of the waiters did not seem to be overly enthusiastic about their jobs.

The waiters were able to introduce us to each dish they placed onto the table, but they lacked an enthusiasm about it. Some of them spoke so softly I could barely hear what they were saying.The sommelier (wine steward) was informative and spoke about the wines as he poured them. I however found it hard to hear him as well. Perhaps I need my ears checked...

Alan also noticed he received less wine this visit. He said that one reason he returned to Guillaume at Bennelong was that the portions he received last time were so generous.

At 00:34 the restaurant was empty, except for us;)

So early in the morning, we departed the restaurant and went into the cold. I noticed the previously busy and bustling Opera Bar was desserted and the music ceased to exist. Overall, my first degustation was a lovely experience. I tasted so many things I could not pronounce and had not tried before. I was a happy girl with an expanded stomach in a metal skirt. Just the way it was supposed to be.

Guillaume at Bennelong
Where: Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
When: Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 17.30 - late. Lunch Thursday and Friday 12.00 - 15.00
How much: Degustation without wines $195. Degustation wth matching wines (90ml) $275
Other: I requested a menu but stupidly left it on the table instead of taking it home with me (the menu was the same colour as the tablecloth!). I emailed the reservations department, asking if they could post a menu to me. No problem! I think that is nice:)
Website <-Click

As requested by Penny, a photo of the metal skirt

**All dining/product reviews are based on my experience at the time of dining/consumption. 
Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon


  1. I am incredibly impressed at your commitment to saving so you can eat delicious food and incredibly jealous that you got to eat such beautiful looking food.

    1. Don't be jealous:) There was all this beautiful food last Friday. Yesterday...just me and a fried egg. Back to normal haha. I am sure you had something more interesting than a fried egg? A lonely and sad fried egg?

  2. The law of budgets certainly justifies a visit here! It has been yers since we dined here but the food was lovely but we found the same thing with the service. It was very detached!

    1. That is a shame about the service:(

  3. Metal skirt?? I want to see a photo of that please!

    1. Haha. I have added a photo to the bottom of the post for you:) It is a skirt from CUE and 10% of it is metal.

  4. Wow that's strict budgeting! Need to adopt some skills of you! Shame the service couldn't of been better though, especially for such a nice place!

    1. Oh yes, if you ever need budgeting tips, I am sure I can help:)