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Marque Restaurant, Surry Hills

2009 July 28

Alchemy. I think it’s the right word. Or maybe magician? I don’t think either of these words conveys the level of skill and artistry evident in Mark Best’s food.
But first, the back story.
I’ve met Mark Best of Marque Restaurant a couple of times. The restaurant is a stone’s throw from my place, and I walk past often. Thanks to twitter, I introduced myself, and occasionally will say hello,  if I’m passing.

Recently, bloggers and PR people were bought together to discuss how best to work together. Along for the ride was Ed Charles from Melbourne. Having tweeted each other often and being heavily involved in the Aussie Foodbloggers Group we were excited to finally meet face to face, and of course, eat together!

So after this PR session, myself, Ed and Fooderati head off to Marque in search of food!

It was a Monday, it was late (9pm by the time we got there) and I had to get up and drive to Moss Vale the following morning. So we had the degustation and Fooderati and Ed had the matching wine. ;-)

I hadn’t intended to blog this meal so missed the first couple of dishes, (but you can see some pics that Ed took) but we had the most divine beetroot macarons for amuse bouche, that you might remember from the launch of the Taste of Sydney Festival!

With conversation and now the wine, flowing we got underway with some serious eating.

Presented in it’s shell the chaud-froid (literally hot & cold) free range egg reminds me of pretty little jewelled Faberge Egg. Except you can eat this one! We’re directed to dip our bread sticks into the egg and mix through to make sure we get all the flavours. It’s sweet, sour, salty, hot and cold all at once, and just delightful.

At this point I’m jealous that the others got the matched wines, only because the Sommelier is the best I’ve come across. Not only are we told what and where the wine is from, we’re given a detailed explanation as to why it was chosen to accompany that particular dish and at what point in the eating: before mouthful, during or after mouthful; we should be drinking…thoroughness beyond compare.

The next course is not only a feast on the tastebuds, but also an assault on the senses. An Oyster, but not as we know it. An oyster topped with foam. But not just ordinary wishy washy bubbly foam. But all out, thick and luscious foam, grilled no less. We’re directed to lift the oyster out of the shell and taking with it the foam, knock it back. As we discuss it, Mark indicates that he likens it to being dumped at the beach. My thoughts exactly.

I don’t really remember what came next to be honest, but it was an intriguing combination of Sea Urchin, green tea and mandarin…

It’s at this point that I sit up and start paying more attention. As the conversation ranged across Sydney v Melbourne property prices, our various degrees (Economics, Politics, History) the nature of foodblogging, journalism and of course food and sex, our next dish was presented to ooh and ahhs…a small mountain of whispy creaminess consisting of almond jelly. blue swimmer crab, almond gazpacho, sweet corn and avruga:

marque_almondjelly

It’s the next serving that makes us dip down low to smell the goodies on the plate. It’s the mushrooms, with their earthy aroma that hit us with this combination of scallops, with “fish floss”, scampi anglaise, campari and turnip:

marque_campariandturnip

The next plate though, really tickles my fancy! The cured ocean trout with it’s lacy mantle of lemon and dill jelly is a symphony of freshness and light.

Marque_oceantrout

At this point we’re not even half way through the meal…

One of the most challenging tastes for me, is the crab custard and frozen foie gras. No picture adequately conveys the drama of this dish as it arrives with what appears to be steam coming off it, but which is in fact dry ice. The ice has been used to freeze the foie gras which then appears to be grated on top of the custard. The mouth feel of the frozen grated foes gras is, as Ed notes, like chocolate..creamy, rich and coats the inside of the mouth, but with the unmistakable taste of liver.

The beginning of the meat dishes is a duck ham with endive and Parmesan is a lovely change of pace from the seafood dishes. Then, pork jowl with spinach and a pacific oyster. Being a non-piggy eater, I only take a mouthful, and feel terrible when asked if there was something wrong.

marque_duck hammarque_porkjowl

I can’t deny the lusciousness of this porcine morsel, though I just can’t do piggy in this form.

My favourite dish of the night (savoury that is) is the wagyu  with the most exquisite baby potatoes…

marque_wagyu

Ah, and nearing the end of this odyssey into technique and flights of fancy, the simplest of pleasures: cheese. Brunet, and italian goat’s cheese, with rhubarb and a pistachio and mancha tea macaron…

marque_brunet

I love the texture of the dried rhubarb stuck to the top of the cheese, it reminds me, oddly, of the redskin lollies we had as kids…

Dessert, my favourite course!!!!

I will state now, that the only fault with this entire 14 course glut of goodness is that the desserts are just not big enough! But luckily, being a multi-course feast, there was more than 1 yummy to satisfy…

First, the famous Sauternes custard. How such a simple thing can be so lush and luxe is confounding. But when you’re dealing with the best, that’s what you get.
marque_sauternes

The dish that made Ed lick the plate? The Chocolate ganache, hazelnut croqante, yoghurt, eucalyptus and raspberry…This particular dance of flavours was unusual and created an unexpected effect of mintiness when eaten in combination, but when eaten individually, the flavour of the eucalytpus in the yoghurt comes to the fore.

marque_chocganache

Nearing satiety, and keeping in mind my early start, I look forward to the petit four, consisting of salted caramel chocolates and bitter bonbons flavoured with campari, Gentian and Cynar especially after reading Lorraine’s recent review.

marque_petitfours

What a delightful way to finish up this most engaging evening…more please!


Marque Restaurant
4-5/355 Crown Street
Surry Hills
02 9332 2225
marquerestaurant@bigpond.com
Marque on Urbanspoon

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10 Responses leave one →
  1. July 28, 2009

    Sounds like an amazing meal. I love the juxtaposition of the relative stillness of tasting with the physical sensation of being dumped on the beach. And Redskins! I loved those as a kid – only the really hard ones of course!
    .-= Helen (grabyourfork)´s last blog ..Bankstown Bites Food Festival 2009: Discovery Food Tours =-.

  2. July 29, 2009

    Oh it all looks divine, you’re so lucky! I really want to go but I think I’d only be able to afford a lunch there. That’s just brilliant that he licked the plate.
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..The Food Blog’s Secret Dinner, Element Bistro, Sydney CBD =-.

  3. July 29, 2009

    the cured ocean trout with it’s lacy mantle of lemon and dill jelly looks a little scary yet very interesting. something I’ve never seen before but would love to try. it reminds me of some deep sea creature like a sea cucumber :-)
    .-= Simon Food Favourites´s last blog ..Bistro CBD Tasting Night: 15 Years of Dining Excellence, Sydney (28 July 2009) =-.

  4. July 29, 2009

    Thank you so much for taking me on this amazing gastronomic adventure. Love the look of the ocean trout. It all looks divine…
    .-= aptronym´s last blog .. =-.

  5. July 29, 2009

    Oh my God, sounds divine…

    I also follow Mark Best on Twitter and I was at the food blogging and PR event. So after I heard you guys rave about Marque, I told my boyfriend that’s where I wanted to go to celebrate my birthday, and we’re going on August 19th. Can’t wait!!!
    .-= myriamthi´s last blog ..myriamthi: @chocolatesuze Awww – lucky neighbours! Wish mine were bringing me brownies =-.

  6. July 30, 2009

    You are so lucky to live near to so many fab restaurants. The meal you had at Marque looks like it lived up to the hype. OK, it’s now on my wishlist as well…
    .-= Belle@OohLook´s last blog ..100th Zumbo cake eaten by Ooh, Look =-.

  7. July 30, 2009

    Oh wow! the degustation menu for Marque looks awesome. Howard still owes me a dinner, maybe I can convince him to take me to Marque.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..cookshow&tell, Greek =-.

  8. August 9, 2009

    Marque has been our restaurant of choice for special occasions over the years. Last time I was there, I stared at that cured ocean trout for a few minutes. It was too good to eat! Your photos are bringing back good memories :)
    .-= Gourmantic´s last blog ..The Cosmopolitan City =-.

  9. October 26, 2009

    oh yummy!
    i’m going there in nov, looking forward to it (and my vego degu!)
    .-= betty´s last blog ..Jam DOnut Cupcakes =-.

  10. Ben permalink
    September 17, 2011

    I went to Marque yesterday and was bitterly disappointed.. Look at all those pictures above, looks great, doesn’t translate to taste at all. I’m all for presentation, but not at the expense of taste. The ambience was awful, when the restaraunt is full its noisy, you can’t have a conversation. The staff think they are floating on a cloud way above you, please, you’re the wait staff. The clincher for me was when one of the girls started ironing a table cloth right next to us…. could you make us feel any more unwelcome, we weren’t even up to the 6th of 8 courses. Actually that wasn’t it, it was when we were asked to leave by 5 at around 4:30 so they could set up for dinner at 7! Sorry, we were looking forward to an 8 course degastation menu that was meant to be a gastronomic delight that we could enjoy at a leisurely pace. Instead we had good looking, average tasting food rammed down our throats so they could turf us out as quickly as they could. I’ve never experienced such bad food, bad ambience and bad service with a price tag like that. Trust me, i’m not a serial rubisher of restaraunts, i’ve never written a bad blog before, but this warrants it.

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