A friend and I decided to have a healthy month, which included her starting work outs (I’d been going F45 for about two weeks at that stage I think). She also somehow shoehorned me into Dry July a few bottles of wine in too… And we settled on an ‘end of month’ reward being a fine dining meal at The Bridge Room. I’m no stranger to some fancy fine dining, so of course I was in.
Awkwardly, I was about 30 minutes EARLY for the reservation and my friends. So I broke Dry July with a great cocktail. I love when you can’t taste the harshness of alcohol, and this was definitely easily drinkable!! I did feel completely slack using my phone in a fine diner, but I was alone, and a drinks menu isn’t captivating reading for that long!
The above dish was a little tricky to cut, with the raw meat, and even the mushrooms (enoki). This was a clearly Japanese inspired meal, but the decor was largely Scandinavian.
The puddle it’s on is black vinegar, and aged pancetta on top. We weren’t loving seeing the translucent fat on the pancetta!
An enjoyable sweetness to this dish (and I AM a sweet tooth), but I wouldn’t say I’m a duck fan like some. My father drools at the thought I think!
Bring on the desserts:
The vertical column was melon, and quite tart compared an otherwise very sweet dish.
This was delicious, although one of our table of three missed it being served, and the habit of them explaining the dish. A misstep for a fine dining resturant.
One of the fabulous things about fine dining with set menus is that ‘six courses’ was seven course with a petit fours. So, BONUS! There was a jelly like thing there, and I have no recollection of what the ball was!
It has the top accolades with 3 hats, but I have to say, it didn’t feel three hats. I’m not sure if I’m jaded in all my experience? I’m not for a minute saying it was horrible. Just it lacked sparkle or something perhaps?
Right after arriving in Amsterdam, Qatar Airways emailed with an offer to upgrade on either return sector of my flights. Well timed – send that email when the pain of long haul is FRESH! So I decided to take up the offer for the 14 hour flight from Doha to Sydney. Overall, adding this upgrade STILL made my total fare less than what I usually spend to fly to Europe (given it was May, it was cheaper than July/August or around Christmas/New Year when I’ve travelled in the past).
Now, on the plane!!
I was well and truly getting a cold, and so my sleep was restless but I can ONLY imagine how much worse I may have felt elsewhere in the plane.
The seed that started my 2017 tour of Europe was an invitation to a wedding in Heidelberg. J is a friend I’ve had since 1999, when she was a boarding house supervisor and I was a student. During the intervening years, we’ve both lived in Europe, and in different parts of Australia, but early on we formed a strong friendship via email when she was completing a part of her PhD in Bonn in Germany. When I lived in France in 2006, she was back in Brisbane, Australia, but in 2008 when I returned to France for a three week Women in Engineering conference/summer school, I spent a few days with her in Heidelberg. In late 2010, J visited me in Sydney for a weekend, and quite on a whim, I decided to go to Germany for a white Christmas. It was a fabulously snowy winter, and I got to meet a number of J’s colleagues and friends.
J met her partner T, at work, however returned to work for CSIRO in Melbourne Australia not long after they’d started dating (at least… that’s my recollection!). For a number of years they did a long distance relationship, but J found a job back in Heidelberg and they were reunited. In December last year (2016), T formally proposed, and they set a date of 20 May 2017.
I’ve never attended a German wedding, and J is also quite naturalised as an Australian, so there was some variations on German wedding. For example, at the reception, games and skit/performances are quite common in German weddings, and this wasn’t largely done. That only happened to the smallest extent – there was a tub of sand they had to dig through for treasure…. And a projected address from a whole heap of famous Germans (Angela Merkel, a football star, Darth Vader etc) I assume wishing them all the best.
The wedding ceremony was held in a lovely old church in a monastery. I was so perplexed being told that the pew decorations were being double sided taped – I’m used to pews having a ‘head’ or something similar, with which one can loop around. Nope – not these modern, minimalistic pews! And sure enough, at least two arrangements in their glass test tubes did become detached… 🙁 The test tubes were a gentle nod to J’s chemistry background, and I don’t know about T’s studies and work, but perhaps his too. So much so, at the reception, the lolly table held things in beakers and test tubes in racks.
It felt like every detail was attended to – in the sense that, it feels like all the lovely things were there, nothing was forgotten or struck off. Here’s some of the lovely details
every pew had a floral decoration (not every second etc)
plants and little vases to decorate the low stone wall
floral napkins to put out with cakes, croissants and quiches for after church
a coffee cart, which also poured and distributed champagne (or similar)
bikes to cycle between the ceremony and the reception, complete with helmets!
lace bows for attaching to car antennas (which I made with my room mate); but the florist who’d decorated the bridal tandem bike, had left wired bows to decorate the bikes
sushi snacks for cocktail hour at the reception
tablescapes that included
placeholders were little glass jars with a chalk label and bowled lollies inside with T heart J and similar
coasters with ‘Advice for the bride and groom’
love hearts out of novel pages & wooden cursive ‘love’
a table set up for children – with colouring books and mini lego
bathrooms with make up wipes and sanitary items (and pew flowers (roses) which I’d rescued and mimed to the florist we could reuse)
a lolly station (despite there being about 6 dessert options in a pick and choose layout)
It was such a wonderful night (and day!). The bike ride between the locations was a lovely part of J & T’s story, and it was SUCH a lovely day to do it. Everyone waved and clapped and honked their horns. And I didn’t fall off. I may have been a little immodest riding in a dress, but it’s not that uncommon either. The reception was lovely and leisurely, and we were seated with really interesting people, who spoke English and German, so were wonderful at summarising speeches and helping decipher the menu/blackboard, though some things just aren’t translatable: mashinis was mashed potato in a martini glass, and was to be served as a midnight snack 🙂 That being said, I think we left after 1am, and fresh from having desert, so the midnight snack was shelved.
The overall experience was wonderful. My usual waitress was Lithuanian (second I’d met in Iceland) and happy to help and generally pretty bubbly. I was initially worried when the menu said only for tables of two or more, but it wasn’t a problem. Interesting the first few dishes were quite rapid in coming, but then there became long lapses between the mains (the fish and the lamb particularly). I had nowhere else to be, but I’d forgotten to bring a novel, due to a small handbag, and in the end, resorted to writing on my map!! Of course, like absolutely EVERYWHERE in Iceland, there was wifi, so I could also occasionally chat with people in Australia. Seems a bit vulgar, but I didn’t have company with me.
In keeping with past fancy dinners here, here and here, this year I booked with a small group to go to Momofuku in Sydney’s casino ‘The Star’. The creator is the guy behind now 21 resturants, mostly in the US, and this was the first outside the US.
It was a great night, and the photos tend to speak volumes!
The meal alone was $175, and then $105 to match all courses with alcohol – my mother and I shared that. Two friends went for ‘reduced pairing’ which resulted in half as many drinks, but standard pours. I think mum and I got more variety! Dad ordered a glass of wine, and uncommonly, the tasting resulted in him rejecting it. They were great about it, and (unsurprising to me) Dad picked the French red wine of the two replacements they offered.
Overall, it was a great. It’s a very intimate small resturant (42 seats) with an open kitchen. Mum preferred to other places she’s dined like this. So that’s a recommendation. Oh, and despite the name… it’s not Japan.
Recently, I was granted a surprising bonus from work. I was keen to save it all, but the BF encouraged me to celebrate. So I decided to go out for dinner at est, a two hatted restaurant. Of course, on a 42C day!
Due to the heat, this was lunch:
There was some other sweeties to finish – a jelly square (tart), a macaron each with caramel between the layers and a log of chocolate.
The service was a little patchy. Inconsistent wait staff, and busy. We saw a few snafus too, bringing out dishes when people were AWOL, or our desserts came out, almost went to the wrong table, and then doubled back to the kitchen before coming to us. est is part of the Meirvale chain of everything (bars, restaurants etc) and I think that’s probably their undoing. Nothing was horrible, but it wasn’t top shelf either. I sound so hoity toity, but I suppose I’ve come to expect the high prices as much for great food, as world class attentive service too.
I use this blog as much as a photo album, so here’s another multi course dinner at Oscillate Wildly in Newtown, Sydney. I avoided using the flash in this small restaurant, so apologies for the grainy footage – it’s mainly so I can remember the night 🙂
Oh no! I forgot to photograph the ‘custard apple’ course – with guava and cucumber. Deliciousness, I tell you – like and fluffy, crispy but sweet but neutralised by cucumber…
There were also some lovely truffles and jellies for having with coffees… mmm…
We went for matched wines – most of them were biodynamic or similarly untouched by chemicals and preservatives. Mostly whites, but still tasty!
This topped off one of the best days of my life – the day was my Harbour Bridge Climb:
To friends, and boyfriends, and expensive experiences.
Aria is one of the top shelf restaurants in Sydney – on Sydney harbour at Circular Quay. It serves ‘modern Australian’ and has breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. About a year ago, I added in to my ’12 in 2′ goals list, hoping to visit for dinner in the next two years.
As was customary with past birthdays, I met with some close friends and enjoyed the degustation this past Friday. Aria offers a 7 course menu with matching wines for a breath taking sum of $260.
Here’s what it looked like, til I’d drunk too much 😉 These are phone photos, so don’t expect breathtaking compositions!
I’ve never had crunchy avocado 🙁
The fish disliking BF ate this, though I did end up with extra mussels. Oh and they cooked the lettuce?!
By FAR the table’s favourite dinner! It was like high end mac and cheese! There were suggestions that my 30th might be in a hardware store, serving mac and cheese… It could happen! Or the venue could be Ikea?
The signature dish of Aria – and we loved it. Though, in a lot of ways, didn’t match the other dishes..
Also yummy, and my first taste of salt bush, it was tempured. It was lovely, and you can get lamb that’s fed on salt bush!?
And then the matched wines got me – I missed the Berries tart of summer berries with strawberry sorbet and short bread. And there were petit fours, and I had a affrogato with a shot of something… come on, it was my birthday! I did fail to mention I had a strawberry Pimms cocktail to start too.
The hangover on Saturday morning was HORRENDOUS, so we were late to the wine and cheese, and there was no more wine for me. I even scoffed a packet of McDonald’s French Fries. I wouldn’t have thought to go to McDonald’s but the BF wanted his favourite burger of all time, so I let him 😉
Would I recommend Aria? No. There’s some personal reasons which I won’t share, about our particular event and the staff not being particularly sensitive. At the cost of meal being so high, you do set your standards of service incredibly high, and they totally missed the ball park in so many ways. There was wonderful company, a great view, and a pretty tasty menu. I really can’t complain! And another 12 in 2 list item demolished!
What’s the memorable (good or bad) meal you’ve had in your life? Was it the food that shone, the service, or the company?
I mentioned in my post on Friday that I half achieved my plans to go Aria restaurant here in Sydney. I thought I’d share some photos of our lunch during Good Food Month.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper hosts Good Food month, and part of the initiative sees high end restaurants offer a lunch time deal at a relatively affordable price ($38). This usually includes a glass of wine, and tea or coffee. My father has taken me and my mother previously – this year he lucked out, having two lunches with his two lovely ladies seperately, and another lunch with my two brothers at a non-Good Food event.
This was all planned for my rostered day off Friday, and happily coincided with the night we flew to Vietnam. What a wonderful start to a holiday! I think I will return to Aria for my birthday and sample a degustation menu, which is sometimes up to 10 courses! I enjoy these nights immensely, sharing veryhigh end food and wine with close friends, and coming away with great memories as presents!
Dear readers – I am homeward bound, I’ll be reading all your comments in a few short hours! How I’ve missed you all!