Monday, September 3, 2012

Spring has sprung at The Rocks: Sake and The Cut

Spring has sprung with a vengeance after the woeful summer we've had in Sydney, and remembering what it's like to feel warm sun on bare skin is most definitely worth celebrating.

The Rocks restaurants Sake Restaurant and The Cut Bar and Grill are getting into the spirit with spring specials for the month of September.

Cherry Blossom Festival at Sake Restaurant, Argyle Street, The Rocks
Starting at Sake, the modern Japanese restaurant has taken inspiration from hanami cherry blossom viewing, which happens for a very short amount of time every year in the Japanese spring.

We celebrated Sake's Cherry Blossom Festival in the restaurant's gorgeous private dining room with what look like cherry blossoms growing from above.

Cherry blossom cocktail
There's a cocktail designed specifically for the month-long festival by Sake bar manager Wayne Shennen, and it's a sweet and cheeky flirt - just like spring.

Served with a shiso leaf-wrapped sakura 'Cherry Blossom' mochi rice cake filled with red bean, the cocktail has a foundation in Cloudy Bay Pelorus sparkling wine.

'Cherry blossoms' - lychee and maraschino cherries with elderflower liqueur
A DIY component is a shot glass of dehydrated lychee and maraschino cherry pieces with elderflower liqueur that drinkers add to their flute of sparkling for a visual and flavour treat.

Cherry blossom cocktail
After a few moments of pure fizz, the bubbles of the sparkling wine take hold of the dehydrated fruit pieces, floating them up and around in an enchanting dance that evokes cherry blossoms in a warm spring breeze.

It's utterly delightful to watch, and then of course drink - light and entirely appropriate for spring, with hints of sweetness and fruit that's hard to reach at the bottom of the flute.

Scallop ceviche
We were also treated to a couple of stunning dishes from the kitchen, including the most generous scallop ceviche imaginable.

Served with multicoloured cherry tomatoes and a zingy dressing of lime and chilli, there were at least half a dozen dreamy, thick, whole scallops beneath the mass of crispy bits, finely sliced Spanish onion and sweet potato cubes.

Duck breast with red miso sauce, shitake mushrooms, asparagus and baby leek
Next was a whole duck breast each, sliced thick and topped with golden skin, thin slivers of baby leeks and a squiggle of a potent red miso sauce that added bags of sweet umami flavour to the tender breast meat.

Fresh shitake mushrooms and frilled asparagus added to the 'spring on a plate' feel.

Sake - an Amabuki daiginjo (left) and Sake exclusive Kozaemon junmai ginjo
Matched with both dishes were chilled sake served from those glorious 1.8 litre bottles into wine glasses. The subtle floral notes of the Amabuki daiginjo (sake that has at least 50% of the rice grain milled away) partnered the zingy and chilli flavours of the scallop ceviche.

Meanwhile, a jumai ginjo (at least 40% of the rice grain is milled away) brewed exclusively for Sake Restaurant by Kozaemon had a bolder, dryness - which is my preference - that suited the rich duck meat.

From Sake, we walked the 10 steps or so down to The Cut Bar and Grill, and descended into the dark underground restaurant for their spring banquet.

Tasmanian spring lamb cutlet with sweetbread, lamb shank tortellini, asparagus,
mustard and tarragon
The Cut's spring lamb dish was a celebration of good ol' Aussie lamb; indeed, Tasmanian spring lamb. The thickest cutlet I've ever seen before my eyes was accompanied by two plump tortellini filled with a salty hit of pulled lamb shank.

The sweetbread, cooked till golden all over, was a highlight nugget on the plate while the vegetables provided a healthy balance to the soft, full-of-flavour lamb.

Served with the dish were a 2010 Ngeringa JE Assemblage Chardonnay Viogner and a 2003 Lark Hill Merlot that was a treat with the lamb.

Fried rosemary potato with prosciutto
There was plenty more goodness to be had in the side dishes, especially the whole smashed and fried rosemary potatoes strewn with strips of paper-thin prosciutto - just a sublime combination of fat and carbs that was worth every single kilojoule.

Cabbage salad with poached egg 
Healthier and still just as delicious was the salad of thinly shaved cabbages and kale, topped with a poached egg that oozed its velvety yolk all over the sherry vinaigrette dressed cabbage.

It was so satisfying that cabbage and its Brassica cousins of all types are quickly becoming my favourite vegetable family.

The Cut's signature cocktails
We moved to the bar for dessert and a taste of The Cut's signature cocktails, including the HenneCigar (not pictured) cigar-infused cognac and bourbon cocktail, as if poking fun at the old man stereotype.

I ended up with a rather pretty Zombie of sorts, all sweet and fruity with a floating half of passionfruit, hiding a myriad of liquors including rum. The bellini and cocktail with basil and pepper also got nods and swigs of approval.

Passionfruit and yoghurt ice cream brioche sandwich
Dessert, though we were getting to the point of barely managing, was a petite affair of a mini brioche bun sandwiching a fragrant passionfruit and yoghurt ice cream. I probably could have eaten that ice cream all night long, which matched well with the sweet, fruity cocktail.

I couldn't be happier to say so long and farewell winter for another year, and say 'Hello, come here, you,' to spring at Sake or The Cut this month. See more photos on my Facebook page.

Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Sake and The Cut, with thanks to The Cru Media and Lindy Thompson PR.

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

The Cut Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

Finally, Spring is here. We've been blessed so far with sun shine! I've been to both The Cut and Sake and had such a fantastic time. I think it's time I make another appearance at these places. I really want that scallop ceviche. Just as you say, it looks friggen generous as!

JB said...

Scallops and ceviche... two of my favourite things, together at last!

SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said...

Wow! That cherry blossom cocktail looks stunning. Lovely pictures in this post!

food porner said...

WOW - you are a machine can't believe you went to both and ate and drank all that. Props to you!

What an amazing meal!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

cherry blossom mochi :D wish there was another one of these dinners! i celebrated hanami at the jap gardens in auburn botanical gardens :)

Tina said...

Hi Tina - Yay! Most awesome, generous scallop dish I've ever had - all to myself!

Hi JB - Yuh-um! An amazing dish :P

Hi SarahKate - Thanks! You can probably tell I struggled with the... varied lighting.

Hi food porner - Oh, it wasn't thaaaaat much food ;) Drinks on the other had...

Hi Vivian - You can go have the Cherry Blossom Festival banquet all through September, featuring the scallop and duck dishes!

NewBlackAlchemy said...

Thanks for the lovely comments, Tina! Hope to see you again soon! Wayne

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