Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Food is Fashion (part 2): Cara&Co Restaurant

If food is indeed fashion, there's no better example than Cara&Co on Level 4 in Westfield Sydney: part fashion retailer, part fine dining restaurant and all completely delicious.

Like fashion seasons and collections, Cara&Co presents a new menu at the turn of every season. Crafted by Belgian chef Dave de Belder, this winter's menu is said to explore the textures, temperature and taste of winter flavours, with a very fine, very modern European touch.

Champagne Deveaux at Cara&Co Restaurant, Level 4, Westfield Sydney
There’s no more perfect a start (to anything really) than champagne – the toasty Champagne Deveaux tickling the palate as Cara&Co’s exemplary bread rolls arrived to the table alongside butter topped with black salt flakes.

Bread roll with butter and salt

Amuse bouche
The amuse bouche at Cara&Co never fail to impress with their intricate and impactful flavour combinations.

The moist cake of sun dried tomato hinted at the Mediterranean with somewhat summery accompaniments of a cucumber jelly sheet and lemon cream; the flavours combining for a momentary escape from winter.

Amuse bouche
Our second amuse was a porcini mushroom-dusted tapioca cracker, served on a polished stone with a dab of lettuce cream, a tiny porcini mushroom and micro leaves of cress; forming an umami-packed and crunchy couple of mouthfuls.

Salmon at the Dill Academy – Cured salmon gravlax, dill, brioche, lettuce, crab
There was something about the cold entrées that attracted us – perhaps in subconscious preparation for heartier mains.

The gravlax entrée featured lusciously thick slices of cured salmon, tinged green by dill on the outer surfaces.

Texturally-varied accompaniments included a herbaceous sorbet, crisp air-dried brioche, lettuce segments and crunchy tubes filled with spanner crab flesh; all allowing the salmon to shine as the star ingredient.

King of the Bulls – Beef tartare, capers, quail egg, chive, oyster
The beef tartare was surprisingly creamy and velvety on the palate in its chunky mince form, with quail egg yolks adding to the richness, cut by caperberries. The thins of crispbread played the role of garnish rather than eating implement while chive foam added greenery.

But it was all outshone by the oyster pearls which were tiny, liquid nitrogen-frozen spheres of pureed natural oysters. Melting in the mouth the pearls disseminated the pure, unadulterated and even intensified flavour of oysters in an absolutely astonishing addition to the dish.

Lamb a la Dolce Vita – Lamb shoulder, sweet potato, plum, Earl Gray tea
Braised meats entered the spotlight on the mains menu; exuding hearty, comfort and Belgian-ness all at once - and really, winter food at its best.

The slow cooked lamb shoulder, which had a sous vide and roast treatment, arrived as neat little squares of fall-apart meat, rich with fattiness and hours of seasoning and cooking.

It was served with an unlikely partner of plums - prunes and seemingly fresh slices - adding sweetness to the dish along with a puree of sweet potato. The early grey tea-scented veal jus was the finishing touch, poured at the table.

Slow Cooked Bull Wins the Race – Wagyu beef, radish, pastrami, aged cheese, wild grains
The slow-cooked wagyu beef main was similarly fall-apart tender like the lamb, served cylindrically with pastrami crisps and raw radish slices.

Crisp pearl barley was a great way to present the grains on the side and add texture while the distinctly aged cheddar foam was a dominant flavour of the dish though melding reasonably well with the jus.

No Animals were Harmed – Gnocchi, celeriac, carrot, beetroot, nutmeg
We also sampled the vegetarian main of pan-fried gnocchi that was like squares of mashed potato cakes with a great, rich and meat-free nutmeg-spiked sauce.

The colourful carrots and beetroots were a delight to look at and eat, with cubes of celeriac (not feta cheese as I'd originally thought) upping the vegetable count.

Bon Bon Bomb – Macadamia, apple, raspberry, chilli
Cara&Co's desserts of many components also feature the stunning plating and presentation that impressed through the night; only fitting for a fashion-oriented establishment really.

The intense macadamia nut cream dessert toys with refreshing apple sorbet and fresh apple rings, while the chilli aspect was a bit lost on me, unless it was somehow in the perfect quenelle of raspberry sorbet.

Noisette de Indochine – Keffir lime leaf, hazelnut, coffee
Hazelnut features in another dessert - roasted halves and a creamy hemisphere atop a citrusy kaffir lime scented cream. An accompanying coffee cream was just as intense in flavour as the nutty aspects and most surprising was the liquid-filled chocolate ball - best eaten in one mouthful and not cracked on the plate.

Petit fours
Like their always interesting amuse bouche, Cara&Co ends the meal with petit fours on every occasion too. This time it was a short, buttery, chocolate-filled biscuit that had a fancy French name and looked like a toffee-topped mini muffin.

Petit fours
I preferred the tiny dark chocolate brownie square; a rich, fudgey rendition studded with almonds to finish the gorgeous meal, which did feel like quite the fashion collection.

It had so many colours and textures, accessories and main events, all combining for an overall look and feel that's undeniably fine, European style. And don't forget to strut, just a little, on the catwalk way out because, darling, it's fashion.

Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Cara&Co Restaurant, with thanks to WM Media.

Cara&Co Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Amy zhong said...

ive heard a heap of good stuff about them, combining fashion and food, such a lvoely concept!

Sherrie Huang said...

I had such a lovely experience at Cara & Co last time I went so I'm glad to see they're still keeping those high standards. Everything looks so beautiful and sounds delicious :D

penny aka jeroxie said...

Interesting! Will have to check it out as well.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

We really enjoyed our meal here too. It's a great choice for late night shopping too :)

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

The plating here is always incredible. It almost seems a shame to eat it!

Olivia said...

All the dishes look too good to be eaten :)

Sarah | The Sugar Hit said...

Oh wow, looks fantastic. I wish that the rest of the world's shopping centres would catch on to this fine dining trend!

Tina said...

Hi Amy - It sure is. Whether your pleasure's shopping or fine dining, they've got you covered!

Hi Sherrie - High standards indeed! They have set such a high bar in food quality and service; it's such a pleasure to go there.

Hi Penny - Yep, you might even look like one of their very fashionable dishes ;)

Hi Lorraine - Yes, I'll need more time to peruse the retail store next time.

Hi Helen - It is stunning, every time.

Hi Olivia - But they're too delicious to not be eaten!

Hi Sarah - We're not the first in Sydney, but it is an interesting trend :)


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