Guillaume at Bennelong sadly closed its doors to the public on the 31st December 2013, after making the controversial decision not to renew the tender with the Sydney Opera House. The announcement of this news was almost as heartbreaking as the thought that the venue would be turned into a bistro style restaurant and cafe. To the disappointment of onlookers, it was widely known that the Sydney Opera House insisted on creating a venue that was more accessible to the public. However, all is not lost. Guillaume Brahimi is currently renovating his new restaurant in Paddington, for a late April to early May opening. It will be named Guillaume, taking over the Darcy’s restaurant site and is said to be a more relaxed dining experience than its Bennelong self.
It will be interesting to see the Stokehouse by Bennelong, with the Van Haandel Group securing a 10 year lease. Opening day is set for May 2014, where the venue will see a two tier site with casual dining on the upper level and a more sophisticated two hat dining experience on the ground level.
I wanted to visit Guillaume at Bennelong one last time before it was all over. You can read about my first visit here. Today, we sat down to 4 courses for $150.
We started with an amuse bouche of yellowfin tuna with wasabi mayonnaise. An incredible melt in your mouth textural delight. Russell chose well for his first course and had the spanner crab with cucumber, dill and oyster cream which came out with a brilliant layer of striking black caviar. I was most impressed with the dollops of oyster cream and generous serve of black caviar, adding a lovely umami flavour to the dish.
I chose to have the royale with asparagus, yabbies and truffle which I was less impressed with. I thought the flavours were less robust and fell short in texture. I also found that the pieces of yabby meat was not nearly as giving as the other first course.
For his second course, Russell chose the squid tagliatelle with sea urchin & tapioca cracker. The squid flesh was taken and reshaped into tagliatelle strands and laid presented in a pool of sea urchin sauce. Together, the taste had a very intense seafood quality to this dish. What the tapioca cracker lacked in flavour, made up with bite and texture. Overall, I found this dish very interesting.
The texture of partridge was beautifully tender and came served with spring onion, date, cos lettuce and pork belly. The gaminess of the meat juxtaposed nicely with the sweetness of the sides making for a very pleasant dish.
We both took on the chicken with ravioli duck foie gras, chinese cabbage and truffle for our third course. The scent of truffle is delicious on approach while the centrepiece of chicken breast was crispy on the outside but overcooked on the inside and resultantly very chewy. The chinese cabbage was a buttery and slicker version of its former self which I couldn’t quite decide if I loved or loathed. But what I did love was the ravioli of duck foie gras. Hidden underneath the chicken was a gentle pillow of ravioli sheets encasing a piece of fatty piece of rich foie gras. It burst, melted and slipped and slided in your mouth.
A pre-dessert of champagne grapefruit granita – a sharp and bitter palate cleanser.
Russell chose the holy goat la luna – goats cheese with honey, pear and walnut. The goats cheese has a gorgeously soft centre with a distinctive rind and defined wrinkles around the surface. Giving it more chew and texture to the cheese. It is one of the better cheese courses I’ve tasted with the sides adding a lovely sweetness, balance and crumbly flaky texture.
The nougat glace from my last visit was so memorable I had to have it again! It did not disappoint with its caramelised fan of bananas and caramel mille-feuille discs and a nougat and peanut semi freddo layers. The subtle crack of each layer is relived again along with the glorious caramel ice cream & dehydrated caramel.
With the Stokehouse at the Bennelong and Guillaume set to reopen in Paddington. There are certainly some interesting things ahead for us foodies. We will just have to wait and see what lies ahead!