I made a booking for the secretive degustation menu a while back. Generally, Saturday evenings are booked out for the following 6 weeks from the time of placing the booking. This is because the degustation menu on Saturday is pieced together based on produce the season has to offer and has proven to be very popular.

So when I had to reschedule 3 times in a row and then I had to multiply that number by however many weeks, well you do the math. As you could imagine my patience was waning! This occasion was to mark my best friend’s birthday in April. I bought him a voucher back then and he was kind enough to wait until I returned from my four-month overseas trip to share it with me.

After having to reschedule 3 times, delaying the experience actually worked out to our advantage. Between the time I had made the third and final booking and the actual booking itself. Sepia had received the coveted Restaurant of the Year and the 3 hat Award. We were even more thrilled at the wonderful news!

D-day arrived and finally we made our way to Sepia. Excited to see the menu on arrival we were advised that we will not be provided one, that tonight we would be served a seafood inspired menu and everything would be revealed to us when served.

Amuse bouches…

First up, we were served a deconstructed version of salt and vinegar chips. Martin Benn you are genius. You gave me my first foodgasm and I was only looking at the gorgeous thing. I know. I am a total chip tart and I am not ashamed of it. If your one weakness is chips, which is one of mine. You would have quivered and shuddered in its presence too. Its golden brown good looks were so nail bitingly beautiful, crisp and fragile.

So fragile, I could see right through it. So crisp, I could hear others shatter it to pieces. So weak, I could feel it crumble before me. So mouth-watering, it disintegrated along my tongue. And the sansho pepper, gave it a nice  little kick right on the finish.

Salt and vinegar potato starch with sansho pepper

The ocean smoked trout with consommé  was to die for. It was killer. It had me at hello. I don’t know about you but every time I see red flesh in its raw state or smoked state, I just loose my mind. Include the char grilled surface and I am done for.

This dish had aburi flavours through and through. The consommé that the fish had been seeped in was gushing with that smokey aburi flavours which helped infiltrate every single fibre and morsel of the “sweet sweet flesh”. Oh and I took my time with this one. I savoured every moment. Every bite and every sip.

The finish of the consommé  was simply irresistible. It lingered there just enough to you keep you hanging and then it would leave you hanging, to keep you coming back.

Cold smoked Tasmanian ocean trout consommé

If looks good kill… phoarrr… This tuna tataki had me spellbound. All that raw red flesh. Oh my… And that pickled leek cream with the tamari soy sauce, (I think my heart just stopped) was cheekily hidden underneath it all. So when I went to grab a piece of tuna it did the grand reveal and exposed its creamy leek and sweet soy base.

The tuna tataki definitely lived up to its appeal. So good that we wouldn’t let anything go to waste. We dipped our fingers in the plate to collect the cream and sauce where we proceeded to lick it off our fingers. Jack got caught though! I however, did not 🙂

Mains…

I have to admit, I can’t say I have had a sashimi of spring bonito before but my first time was more than pleasant. It’s hard to turn down a perfectly pink and naked plump piece of sashimi lying in alcohol and oil that is barely covered in a thin apple and radish shreds. No not at all. You simply eat it and you love it. Longingly.

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Sashimi of spring bonito, green apple, radish, chive and sake oil

The scallop sushi was an innovative and pretty play on your traditional sushi. I developed a little thing for the picked ginger gel with those pretty bright baby pink colours. It also helps that I love  pickled ginger to begin with too.

What truly impressed me about this dish was the rework of the pickled ginger into a liquid gel. It was like one of those cosmetic gels. The scallop alone didn’t quite have the same effect on me as the previous  dishes but I found this dish worked best when you had everything all at once.

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Scallop Sushi – Nori rolled scallop, avocado cream, pickled ginger gel and puffed sush rice

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Sepia served up another knock out. The roasted scampi and shellfish custard was somewhat of an enigma. It was hard to tell what I was eating when I was looking at it. I mean… look at it. Even when I ate it, it kept everything under wraps. But when it is good like that you just know it is damn good. Walking on death row kind of material. Think plump scampi speckled with crunchy notes and a creamy smooth shellfish finish. The textual interplay and the exotic variety of flavours was hot with chemistry and made for a very dynamic dish for the senses.

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Roasted New Zealand scampi, shellfish custard, crystallised wakame, fennel, wild rice, licorice and purple basil

Roast chicken was very moist, juice and had a touch of risqué pink in the centre. The maron tail was thick, plump and juicy. And the shellfish custard was delicious. Like a tomato and basil match made in heaven.  I am a firm believer that the taste of shellfish can be quite vanilla without it being cloaked in some sort of creaminess and that custard definitely hit my creamy centre with the utmost precision.

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Roast corn fed chicken, butter poached marron tail, shellfish and yuzu emulsion wild rocket, toasted quinoa

The beef tenderloin was prepared to perfection with the sous vide cooking method. With a perfectly pink centre consistently throughout. To me, that is the only way to have a piece of meat. It’s always pink, soft and silky. And it ALWAYS has a melt in your mouth suppleness to it. Even your knife glides over it and all that is required from you is a gentle push. Menus rarely ever mention that they have prepared a dish sous vide. So you only ever know when you slice through it. Half the fun!

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Char grilled miso beef tenderloin, nameko mushroom, roasted garlic and anchovy puree miso mustard

Dessert…
I have to be honest. The Saint Agur mixed with mascarpone and granita was not my favourite. The granita even made my face contract. And not in the way you would want your face to either. Everything else was really nice except for the granita.The celery cress and roasted chicory just wasn’t doing it for me. And I even made several attempts to like it. So I defintiely gave it my best shot. Soon enough I was scooping around it to reach the creamy goo of the blue cheese and mascarpone. Runny cheese? Yes please!

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Whipped Saint Agur and mascarpone cheese, crystallised macadamia’s, celery cress roasted chicory granita

The lemon myrtle jelly, mango custard and passionfruit granita was refreshingly lovely. The passionfruit granita was full of vibrancy lashing your taste buds. Which I absolutely adored but by no fault of its own, it was a touch too vibrant for the other flavours. This only served to overtake the subtlety of the lemon myrtle jelly and mango cream, leaving me hungrily longing for the mango and lemon myrtle flavours.
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Lemon myrtle jelly, mango custard, almond milk, passionfruit granita with almond praline

I thought how they plated up dessert was a lovely touch to our night. The staff at Sepia noted upon the receipt of a personalised gift voucher that it was my best friend’s birthday. They surprised him with a chocolate written ‘Happy Birthday’ with a candle for him to blow out on his chocolate forest dessert. Which made the night all the more special despite the 6 month lag.

This dish was very rich with deep dark flavours coaxing you from every angle. A touch too rich for my personal taste. Looks like a blackberry sorbet rested on a bed of pot pourri of flavours, don’t you think? And I liked the granular feel of it all rubbing against your tongue with the contrast of the icy smoothness of the sorbet. I finished this off by snapping the chocolate twigs between my teeth.


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The verdict?

With the geographical positioning of the back corner and the benefit of dim-lit room, Jack and I found ourselves in pure food porn-ers delight. Tucked neatly away from fellow diners we were free to lick every single last remnants off our sticky fingers, free to let our eyes roll into the back of our heads and rest them there, at complete liberty to ooh and ahh until our big foodie hearts content. The experience at Sepia only left us pining for more.

Sure, there was the truffle-less truffles and that ghastly granita but don’t let that discourage you. No. Sepia is definitely worth the experience. What I love most about Sepia is that you can come back again and again and something new and fresh will be there to welcome you and tickle your taste buds. And yes, you do walk away with a copy of the menu at the end of the night. Luckily, I had mine signed from Martin Benn himself, which made for a very happy little vegemite.

When you take a moment to think about their personal commitment to the conception of a weekly degustation menu that is of the highest culinary calibre. It is quite simply, an astonishing achievement and undertaking in itself. Every week, the promise to deliver a 3 hat menu that is different from the last, deeply affirms their 3 hat status, command and mastery. As a result, Sepia is likely to see the likes of me and those 3 hats again.

Welcome to Sepia and their seasonal 3 hat degustation menu, for years to come.

201 Sussex Street

Sydney 2000 Australia

Tel: 02 9283 1990

Web: www.sepiarestaurant.com.au

Email: info@sepiarestaurant.com.au

Sepia on Urbanspoon

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Comments
  1. Tina @ bitemeshowme says:

    This is definitely on the top of my list. Those dishes look ammmmmmmmmmazing.

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