Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bilson's - Sydney

Life is full of dissappointments.

It's to be expected. It's to be experienced. It's to be accepted.

Now Bilson's is a three-hat restaurant. Supposedly one of the better restaurants of Sydney. So when we stepped in, we were full of excitment and expectations.

The atmosphere in Bilson's is awesome. Dimly lit, little flower floating in a small round fishbowl centerpiece. It really gives off a relaxing, intimate vibe. We only tossed around with the menus for a few moments before we decided the get the 'Fine Bouche' - the 10 course degustation.

Up first was the complimentary bread and butter - as expected at any good restaurant, especially if they were French. This bread was a little dissappointing. The crust wasn't as crunchy at it should be - somewhat tough as well, and the middle bits weren't as soft as it should be, and the butter was just average. Interestingly, unlike most other good restaurants we've been to, we weren't asked if we wanted more bread by the waiters when we were finished with the first piece. Now - to be fair, it's not because they don't ask people if they want more bread (I saw another table be asked) - they simply didn't ask us. My partner had to request more bread. Strike one for attentive service.

bread & butter

The Amuse Bouche comprised of a shot-glass filled with poached quail egg, deep fried bread stick (which really does resemble a chip), parsley foam and parsley juices down the bottom. For those who know me by now, I LOVE foam. But there really wasn't much foam here, and the instant you crack open the egg, the foam is kind of drenched and dissippates. Awww... It was an interesting and good mix of flavours and textures. But nothing really WOW. Just OK.

Amuse Bouche

The next course was dressed spanner crab sitting atop what seems to be apple or pear (cut so thin, I couldn't really tell), with verjus geleè on top. The flavours of this was subtle, nothing bold, yet I found it refreshing. The geleè bought with it a gentle coolness which complemented the crab meat well. In the middle of the dish was a stream of caviar. This was slightly salty but not overly so. On the right-hand side of the plate sat pink raddish and an interesting white meringue type column. This was sweet, crunchy, and somewhat odd and at ends with the rest of the dish. An interesting addition - looks good - but don't know that it matches. I'm not sure what the blue flower is... thought looks nice, didn't think it was meant to be eaten?

Dressed spanner crab

The next course was a tartae of abalone and black angus, sitting on top of three very thinly sliced pieces of beetroot and topped with horseradish ice-cream, a flower and other herbs. My general memory of this dish was chewy with an odd crunch here and there. The flavours of this was very well hidden. Not to say that it was bland. It just wasn't very flavoursome and not very rich and not very anything really. Expensive ingredients which work slightly at odds with horseraddish icecream (which also was not strong flavour-wise). By now, my partner and I were wondering, is subtlety their forte or are both of our millions of taste buds not working very well?

Abalone and black angus tartae

The scallop with leek and mango fondue was bought up next. This was drizzled with Beurre Blanc Champagne and butter sauce. Now I might be a bit biased. I love mangos - but I hate warm cooked mangos. The sauce of this dish was great though. Very tasty and yummy. However, the main character of this dish - ie. the scallop - was slightly overcooked. Slightly overcooked!!! We're talking a three hat French restaurant. I want my super plump juicy scallop cooked just right! To be fair, the scallop was still seasoned well.


Onto the next seafood dish, which was Hiramasa kingfish sitting on top of braised octopus and black olive sauce, and boxed with cauliflower puree. My kingfish skin was not crispy. Very sad. They had this strip of what seems like thin toast which was crispy sitting on top of the skin, but crispy strip didn't make up for non-crispy skin. The octopus/black olive mix was interesting but not fantastic. And to top it all off, our fillets were slightly (just slightly) overcooked! However, I believe this dish redeems itself slightly (just slightly) because the cauliflower puree is rich, thick and pure awesomeness. The puree is possibly the highlight of the night!

Hiramasa Kingfish

Next up was the roasted partridge with foie-gras stuffed fig. My partridge was yummy, juicy, tender and delicious. My partner thought little of his. However, he loved the fig with stuffed foie gras. I couldn't stand it. It was probably tasting how a fig ought to taste (which is something I don't like) - soft, soggy, and super sweet and super mushy >.<. It was surrounded by the brown sauce made of partridge juices and the green pesto sauce with pinenuts.

roasted partridge

Other other carnivourous dish was the dry aged black angus striploin with a stack of layered potato (with something else in it... I don't quite remember). The steak was pretty tender. And tasted pretty average. It was marinated well - flavours rose out of the meat. But it wasn't anything you couldn't get at the normal steakhouse. The potato stack wasn't just potato. I think (don't quote me on this), it had potato layered with garlic, anchoivies, and olives? Well, it was a flavour hit compared to most other dishes of the night, and I generally like potatos so I enjoyed it.

black angus

Next up was out "petit sucre". This was basil icecream with short-crusty crumbs topped with curly bits of carrot. It was umm... interesting? It was probably Bilson's way of being adventurous. However, other than the short-crusty bits, I didn't really like the taste of the icecream and I really really didn't like the gingery-tasting carrots on top. It was a weird dish.

Petit Sucre

The dessert was the "raspberry and the rose". The waiter tried to explain to us what was in it, but to me, what I heard was "raspberry with raspberry with raspberry with raspberry". Just LOTS of raspberry. LOL. In this dish was fresh raspberry, rasperry macaroon, raspberry sorbet, raspberry sponge, raspberry crisp, raspberry powder, raspberry something-that-looks-and-tastes-like-a-soggy-roll-up, and rose jelly with a raspberry center topped with gold-flake. If you couldn't guess, this whole thing tasted lots like raspberry. Too much raspberry for a non-raspberry lover. The rose jelly was a heavenly break from all the raspberry - until you hit the raspberry centre. I think if you liked raspberry - you would like this dish. Unfortunate that neither myself nor my partner are fans of raspberry.

Raspberry and Rose

Our next dessert was 'Autour du Chocolat'. This was essentially "chocolate with chocolate with chocolate with chocolate". Being a chocoholic myself, I should have loved this dish. And essentially, I liked most of it. The chocolate cake with a crunchy peanut butter toffee base was absolutely heaven. The white chocolate icecream on top was just average. The dark chocolate icecream was good but the chocolate powder it was sitting on was nicely cocoa-tasting. And the chocolate sauce on the plate was OK. However, me - the chocoholic - did not want to put the chocolate pudding in my mouth. It was wierd. Watery. Not very chocolate tasting. So whilst I love chocolate, this dessert plate decent but not excellent~

Autour du Chocolat

Now comes to one of the most dissappointing bits of the night - the coffee and the petit fours. The coffee (sorry, forgot photo) was brewed with good coffee beans. It had a strong coffee aroma - but just not creamy or smooth like a cappaccino ought to be. It was watery yet slightly bland >.<>

Petit "fours"

So the food wasn't at all awesome or WOW. The service - the waitresses were all smiley and friendly and they did direct us to the bathroom when we needed to. However, not only did they not ask us if we wanted more bread, the sommelier also didn't get around to pouring the "matching wines" until after we finished the course THREE, that's right, THREE times. *sigh*

I expected a bit more from a three hat restaurant. Really.

Food - 7/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 5/10
Overall - 26.5

27 O'Connell St
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 8214 0496

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