Monday, October 18, 2010

Facing the Fax

After a glowing review of a hotel restaurant meal recently, it was with some disappointment I left another more recently. A weekday lunch was planned at the newly redesigned Bistro Fax in the Radisson Plaza Hotel, courtesy of a better value Spreets voucher than the Let’s Do Lunch offer as part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival.

It’s a light-filled and classy space with three open, tiered levels, and lots of corporate diners along with an array of ladies who lunch. Bistro Fax is also the venue for hotel guests’ breakfasts, evidenced by a closed buffet area with bain maries and other stainless steel vessels. Seated at the top tier of the dining area, one gets a slightly obstructed view of the glassed-in kitchen and chefs at work.

Oil for bread at Bistro Fax, Radisson Plaza Hotel,
O'Connell Street, Sydney
Started on bread – white, wholemeal or rye rolls – we also had the option of butter or olive oil, but it was impossible to forgo the small, intriguing carafe on the table. Infused with roast garlic and rosemary sprigs, this olive oil was an unexpected great start with sea salt flakes on the soft and fluffy breads.

Pouring oil for the bread
White bread
Wholemeal bread
Wine of choice was the 2006 Margan Verdehlo from the Hunter Valley, perfect for my intended choice of lighter options for lunch.

Entrées were an interesting assortment of proteins with a few vegetarian options and oysters; the latter very tempting if not for the fear of potential aphrodisiacal effects upon my return to work after lunch. There were also pasta and risotto options which sat between entrées and mains, so I’m not quite sure which size category they’d fall into.

Thyme roasted quail breast with sweet French shallot tart

For something light, I thought the quail entree was appropriate for me given the size of a quail breast. It came with a scotch quail egg and the French shallot tart completely obscured by a salad garnish of radish slices, frisée and other mixed leaves.

The cute, square, short-crusted tart was oddly served cold, which sadly impacted the satisfaction from the eggy, caramelised French shallot filling. The panko crumb crusted quail egg was lukewarm, but playfully crunchy and creamy at once with its nearly set yolk.

The quail was delightful; dressed in a herb oil and not served cold. The four small sections of breast were delicately cooked through, maintaining a juicy bite and more flavour than I thought the little bird could carry; possibly helped by the fact that I adore thyme.

Roasted duck breast with frisee and walnut muscatel dressing
 The duck was certainly a larger dish, but seemed less seasoned and refined than the quail. The duck itself looked lush and pink, but was surprisingly a little chewy and lacking an additional punch from the skin. The walnut muscatel dressing appeared to be, unintentionally or not, split and drizzled over the frisee and red witlof (or baby radicchio?).

Roasted barramundi with cauliflower puree, peas and scallop
I ordered the roasted barramundi main to continue the light theme. I was a little put off by the contrived placement of raw garlic chives, especially as I think they’re not particularly palatable in their raw state.

They joined a pile on the side of my plate with the shallots (personal dislike), the inedible outers of sugar snap peas, the crispened yet chewy barramundi skin and most of the cauliflower puree – the latter of which was so overpowered by some ingredient addition (parmesan cheese?) that it no longer tasted like cauliflower.

Thus, the peas were eaten out of their pods with the gorgeous fresh shitake mushrooms and the skinless fish fillet, which was lovely and cooked to a beautifully smooth texture. More of the jus would have been appreciated to flavour the fish, as too another scallop or four – but maybe I’m just being greedy. The scallop was golden brown on one side, but still a little overcooked for my liking (which is to a nearly cooked – but not – state).

Ox cheek braised in red wine with baby carrots
The ox cheek was a hearty dish that I would not expect to see on a spring menu. Nonetheless, it had attracted at least one diner to its red wine braise. Served on a bed of mashed potato, the giant hunks of beef cheek weren’t as melt-in-your-mouth-tender as I’d expected, though rich in taste.

Rocket, pear and walnut salad
Greens in the form of a rocket salad were most necessary alongside the beef cheek; an unspectacular salad of mature peppery rocket, at times in still joined, twig-like bunches. The pear provided nice and needed sweet notes and the thick shavings of parmesan cheese were unusual but enjoyed by this cheese lover.

Steamed vegetables
The side of steamed vegetables was nothing more than that: a combination of green beans, snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower and carrot.

And with a few unfinished dishes sprawled on the table, it quickly turned into one of those long lunches. These hotel restaurants, with their fancy interiors, white tablecloths, young staff, safe menus and fancy wine lists; it’s just a fact that they cater to high end tourists and the corporate market, which is a little unfortunate but probably necessary in this current day and age.

Bistro Fax on Urbanspoon


chocolatesuze said...

ah shame the dishes seemed a bit hit and miss! lol no dessert?

Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

The pictures look nice so its a shame the food didn't live up to that billing.

Tina said...

Hi suze - No time for dessert after an unintended 2hr lunch :S

Hi Spencer - Yeah, it was a bit of a shame - the interiors were real nice too

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a shame more dishes didn't impress! :(

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine - Would have been nice if the food was as good as the fitout :)

OohLookBel said...

Bistro Fax has always been like this (reaching above its station, that is!). But it's good if you have a voucher or Entertainment card.

Betty @ The Hungry Girl said...

Sorry to hear that it was a bit of a letdown. At least you got to sit in a nice restaurant and escape work for a little bit ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow. That is a fancy pants work day lunch. I wish my work day lunches were as wonderful as yours. It is a shame though that they didn't quite deliver.

"the latter very tempting if not for the fear of potential aphrodisiacal effects upon my return to work after lunch"

You crack me up :D

Tina said...

Hi Bel - Will learn from first time experience... :)

Hi Betty - Yep, it's a really gorgeous space.

Hi bunny - It's not always that fancy pants... ;)

thang @ noodlies said...

so sad i missed it, would have been great to sample everything!


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