I was rather spoilt for my twenty-fourth birthday. As a belated gift, the boyfriend’s sister took me (as well as the boy, and her significant other) out to Restaurant Arras. On my birthday/Christmas card she revealed to me where she wanted to take me. I was super excited. It took a while for us all to find a time where we were all free so we could have a fancy dinner.
Restaurant Arras moved into the old location of Becasse on Clarance Street. I never went to Arras at its former residence, but I was sure impressed at its current.
Our wonderful waiter, Ben, brings us out some complimentary canapes – caramelised onion with sun dried tomato (I think) and mackerel. We were fortunate to have one of each and the caramelised onion was my favourite. It was a great starter, and I think we all wanted more.
Soy and Linseed Roll
I love it when fresh bread is presented to you. We were spoilt with choice but I opted for the soy and linseed roll. Delicious – crunch outside, fluffy soft innards. I love having fresh bread with butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. I only recently discovered this combination, and now I just can’t get enough!
Amuse Bouche – Cheese and Pickled Pear Sandwich
Our bellies are growling. Out comes this gorgeous looking plate. I hear Ben say “sandwich” – what sandwich? This was too beautiful to be a sandwich! This was the best starter to get the taste buds rolling. The pear was delicate and sweet, the cheese was soft and creamy. The crunch from the biscuit added texture. The fruit puree (grr, I’ve forgotten what it was) lightened up the whole dish.
Marinated Noodles, Herbs and Shellfish Consomme
This dish looked a lot lighter than it seemed. The noodles were bland on their own, but was brought to a different dimension when eaten with the herbs and consomme. I really wish we had a spoon as we struggled trying to scoop up the consomme with our forks. We were cheeky and all lifted up the plates and had a sip of the consomme and wow, it was so clean, fresh and so tasty! I did feel silly doing it in a fancy restaurant but how else were we to do it? :)
Pickled and Marinated Vegetables, Slow Cooked Onions and Bitter Leaves
A plain, boring old salad it seems? Not at all. For such a simple dish, it had lots of flavour. The slow cooked onions definitely were a highlight – it was so soft and sweet that it helped bind everything together. You see, I am a huge fan of caramelised/over-cooked onions and so I adored this. It could have been one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.
Cured Tuna, Smoked Egg, Green Beans and Potato
I know this was a big hit amongst our table. There was such finesse about this plate. You would not expect the green beans to be a puree (we initially thought it just the green beans placed in the centre of the dish). The smoked egg was suprisingly subtle and the tuna was superb. I don’t know how beans, tuna and egg worked together but it absolutely did. I think we all licked the plate clean.
Milk-cooked Pork Belly, Whey Puree and Cracklings
This looked stunning when it was presented in front of us. Two of my dining companions had such high expectations that they only found the dish average. The boy and myself, on the other hand, thought it was delicious. The pork belly was juicy and tender and a joy to eat. There was pork skin which dissolved in the mouth as soon as it came into contact with our saliva - awesome. The crackling sure was crackling. One bite into it and the whole table knew what you were munching on.
Black and White Squid, Sweetbreads, Scallop and Artichoke
This was my favourite dish of the night. The scallop had great colour and was cooked beautifully. The squid blew me away with it being in a puree form (see below for image). The sweetbread and artichoke were great companions to the two main seafood components. There were no clashes of any sort. I could have eaten another 2 of these!
The Black and White Squid Puree
I loved how they presented the squid puree. You wouldn’t even think that it was squid puree until you tasted it – even then it was something you wouldn’t expect. It was funny how the black squid puree left stains on all of our teeth and we would just laugh at each other as we all spoke.
Lamb Rump, Braised Shoulder, Pease Pudding and Curd
By this stage we were all really feeling it. We couldn’t believe how filling the rest of the courses had been. I have to say that this was my least favourite dish of the night. The pease pudding didn’t really do anything for me, and I found the braised shoulder really salty. But the lamb rump, on the other hand, was cooked to absolute perfection – medium rare and so easy to cut through and eat.
“Pretty High Tea” – Victoria Sponge, Tea Bread, Digestive and Jelly
When I read this dessert on the menu I was expecting assorted high tea desserts on a platter. Boy was I wrong. This plate looked so pretty! It was a delight to eat as it did cleanse the palette ready for the heavier desserts. To be quite frank, I can’t remember what was what, but I do remember the custard (front) and the green tea mousse (back). It looks really thick and heavy but it was not at all. And the pink mound in the middle, took me by suprise as it just melted away in the mouth, literally – it was almost like eating a very light sherbert-y marshmellow. I feel terrible not knowing what everything was – sorry readers :( But all you need to know is that it is really good.
Vinegar Ice Cream, Black Salt Fougasse, Vegetable and Fruit Crisps
The ice cream had melted before it even got to me. How sad. Luckily it tasted fantastic so it made up for it. The name sounds a little scary but it didn’t taste that way. It was a beautiful and smooth ice cream that really binded everything together. I loved the vegetable and fruit crisps. It was almost like they were dehydrated. There was a salty element, a sour and sweet. Something you wouldn’t imagine on a plate of dessert.
Ben brings out this little tray that says Happy Birthday on it (thank you, Ben!). Hmm I just wonder what this tray is going to be used for…
Arras Petit Four
Admittedly, I did see this tray of petit fours on other food blogs and about a half hour earlier as it was brought out to the table beside us. The feeling wasn’t the same when the Arras Petit Four tray was presented in front of us though. All of our eyes lit up, like a young kid in a candy store. I definitely took on more than what I could handle (forgetting that it was petit fours – almost felt like an all you can eat candy buffet). I just wanted to try everything!
Sadly I didn’t take a photo of what was on my petit four tray – well I did but the photo didn’t do it justice - but I did get this! HA! What a memorable way to end a memorable dinner!!
Restaurant Arras sits high up on my list of favourite degustations. I feel bad to ruin the Arras Petit Four surprise element but I needed to share how unique and awesome the concept was =)
Thanks again to L for the birthday shout xoxo
204 Clarence Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +612 9283 1922