Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The other side of the Glass

A change of perspective - the concept is easier said than done. And definitely easier as a temporary, seven-second experience than longer term applications. But it's such a powerful yet simple notion that it shocks me that people, myself included, don't use it more often.

When I do think about it, personally, a few major events have evolved from simply looking at a situation in a different way. I guess it's the taking away of any past experiences, pre-conceived notions, judgement, expectations, 'sunk costs' and any other million possible things that frame a perspective.

The lure of the Hilton and Luke Mangan brought us to a special Time Out magazine event at Glass Brasserie. My initial perspectives of Glass being rather snooty and inaccessible were broken, smashed and generally turned around.

Apologies first up for the criminally poor photos - high ceilings and ambient lighting, and then a predominantly business/high-end tourist crowd that probably wouldn't appreciate bright flashes every course.

The deal was two courses plus wine and other goodies from Time Out and Zeta bar. Unlike the Merivale-fest, a menu with three choices per entree, main and dessert was presented. Despite the shortened menu there were still moments of indecision with the waiter needing to return a few times. Pity this attentive service didn't continue the entire night.

Selection of bread and extra virgin olive oil
from Glass Brasserie at the Hilton, Sydney

We started with bread that wasn't complimentary but definitely worth the few dollars. There was a chewy sort of sultana bread that seemed more breakfast than dinner and the most perfect white bread I think I've ever tasted. Perfect crunch on the outer, heavenly soft and fluffy on the inner, and oh-so-good with Mangan's extra virgin olive oil. I don't even really care that I'm filling up on bread before the meal - it's that good.

Fig tart, red onion jam, blue cheese, truffled verjuice dressing

The fig tart entree carried a strong resemblence to a dessert dish and the taste wasn't all that far off to be honest. Sweet and ripe figs hid a generous filling of a sharp and heady soft blue cheese on top of a red onion jam - the cheese doing its very best to cut through all the sweetness. The minature leaves of basil also helped subdue the sugar hit a little. The tart pastry was admirably thin, playing a supporting role to its filling and nothing more.

Spencer Gulf salt and pepper prawns, baby corn and chorizo

My entree was a trio of huge prawns served in a heavily seasoned light crumb bursting with flavour. The prawns were well cooked through, crisp and packing an almost-meaty punch. The natural flavours of baby corn and capsicum match well, as does the range of textures. I wasn't sure of the origins of the yellow puree, which was lightly creamy, and the chorizo failed even a blip on the memory scale. However the dish as a whole was divine and definitely the winner of the two entrees.

Drama was visible from the open kitchen, to which we were seated next to, and although everything on the plates was top notch, the long wait for mains indicates some degree of stress and heat in the kitchen.

Chef's fish of the day: Barramundi with fennel, asparagus, herbs

Chef's fish of the day was some white fish called trumpeter, according to the waiter, but on arrival to the table was pronounced as barramundi. Nevertheless I was glad to have the relatively light main as servings were definitely larger than expected - perhaps the 'Brasserie' part of the restaurant name kicking in. More mystery yellow puree added some bright colour to the dish featuring a golden-skinned fillet of barra. On top was a thin shaving of fennel, asparagus spear and pile of fried dill, coriander and flat leaf parsley.

It was all crackle when the knife first hit the skin's surface - the texture impossibly crunchy and even moreish but mostly surprising for a non-lover of fish skin. The thick white flesh was satisfying and almost played a backdrop for the range of herbaceous flavours. I'm admittedly not the hugest fan of fish mains but here I was very happy and impressed.

Confit Lilydale free-range chicken thigh and leg,
lentils, almond puree, baby leeks

On the other side was a more substantial looking main of confit chicken in golden crumb glory. One small taste revealed its high flavour voltage, a bit of a shock compared to the mild-mannered barramundi dish. The lentils were flavoured with anise giving the whole dish (with the crisp skinned chicken) a slight Asian feel from my point of view.

Rocket, pear, blue cheese, walnuts

Put together a blue cheese enthusiast and a rocket fanatic and what have you got? Two people in raptures over the side of rocket, pear, blue cheese and walnuts. Dressed in a divine, if not slightly salty, vinaigrette, this side was a worthy distraction from the mains.

Stuffed to the gills and downing a glass or two of Luke Magan's sauvignon blanc (drier and without that overpowering fruit aroma of the Kiwi sauv blancs), Glass had the perfect atmosphere to linger a while chatting. The restaurant within the hotel meant there were quite a few single diners, which is a bit rare at other establishments, and of course, quite a few business types.

The Time Out deal also entitled us to a cocktail and beers upstairs at Zeta Bar, which was surprisingly busy for an early weekday night. Perched on bar stools and sipping on raspberry and lemongrass cocktails gave us the opportunity to further discuss life from a very content perspective.

Glass Brasserie on Urbanspoon


Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

What a great looking meal! Is it the $45 for 2 courses and $65 for 3 courses deal?

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine,
It pretty much is the same deal, but it was tied in with Time Out magazines which meant bonus drinkies at Zeta and 3 edition subscription to the mag.
It's a great deal anyway.


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