One of these victims is Justin North’s Etch, which was nestled into the Bridge Street side of the Intercontinental Hotel. A recent voucher meal I had there was superb but was perhaps a bad omen of the times. Here are the memories.
|Etch dining room, Bridge Street, Sydney|
The voucher entitled us to a six-course tasting menu, and an option for discounted matching wines, although being a bit early in the week we instead elected from a brief selection of wines by the glass.
|Amuse bouche: Sweet corn veloute|
|Local figs, Woodside goat curd|
The sesame crackers were a dream to munch through with a smidgen of everything in the mouthful. It wasn’t a big-impact dish to start, easing in rather, I thought, and could just have easily have served as dessert.
|Crispy Spencer Gulf prawns, avocado, wasabi|
The mild wasabi dots and avocado could easily be confused on appearance but not in taste in this delicately and slowly eaten dish.
|Field mushroom risotto|
The deep fried lotus slice was a beautifying touch to the utterly satisfying risotto, of which I could have easily had another two serves.
|Caramelised pork belly, beetroot, pear puree|
The well-coloured and stickily caramelised slice of pork was thin but hit the palate with sweetness and seasoning that was enhanced with the pear puree and a white wine gel of some sort.
The lack of crackling was consoled with the cracker garnish and a well matched beetroot puree.
|Aromatic slow braised lamb shoulder, pumpkin, garlic spinach, mint, balsamic|
The rather classic accompaniments of mint, pumpkin (in puree form) and spinach were appropriate given the big flavours of the lamb, with the balsamic vinegar sauce penetrating the richness of the fatty meat.
|Pre dessert: Chantilly cream, pear jelly with sherbet and poached pears|
The triangular jellies of pear covered in sherbet brought momentary childlike fizzy joy, followed by the sophisticated taste of real pear. But despite all the seasonality, my favourite component was the cloud-like Chantilly cream: just sweet and light enough to be a primer to dessert proper.
|Lemon parfait, pineapple, coconut salad, coriander|
Not that we weren’t satisfied with the six course offering – indeed, with an amuse bouche and pre dessert, it was more like eight gorgeous and very well- choreographed courses – the delivery of a cheese plate to a nearby table was enough to put in an extra order.
The Old Telegraph Road Sapphire Blue cheese was served on slate with tea-smoked pears and more than enough lavosh crackers, which is a sad rarity. The intense smokiness of the pears played interestingly with the fruit’s sweetness, the latter of which is a personal should-have component with blue cheeses.
At the end of the meal I sat thinking that there was really nothing more that I could have wanted: the beautiful, seasonally-focused dishes were presented well and tasted even better than they looked and the service was efficient across the well-timed meal.
It's such a shame to see Etch go but I've got my fingers crossed that North can get through the current tough times.