June 6, 2011

Salty beef

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I met up with Dyson 2000 for dinner tonight at a venue neither of us have been for quite some time.  Wooloomooloo was never my type of place, as I'm neither big on steak nor do I think much of my last dining experience there.  But we decided to give this place another try.

I had made my reservation a few days ago and asked for a table for four.  I called the restaurant back this afternoon to change my reservation to a table for two.  When I walked in tonight and told the waitress my name, she stared back at me blankly.  There were two reservations in the book, and neither bore my name.  Not such a great start...

I was led upstairs to the dining room, which was empty except for a table of two by the window.  The same waitress then pointed me to a table for two pushed against the wall, next to the only table in the room that was being occupied.  Now why do they need to stick me into a cramped corner when the entire dining room was empty and available?  I picked another table and sat down.

Sautéed garlic prawns: fresh jumbo prawns sautéed with crispy garlic, diced vine tomato, white wine & fresh parsley - these were surprisingly big, and not at all what I was expecting.  The sauce was alright, looking a little pink thanks to the mix of white wine and tomato.  The tail was slightly overdone, but reasonably tasty.  I was getting ready to dig into the giant head, but the first little taste told me that it wasn't the freshest prawn on the market.  Dyson 2000 thought the same.  What a shame that I was robbed of one of life's little pleasures...

Blue swimmer crab cake: served with mayonnaise, homemade Tartare sauce & a lemon wedge - texture was kinda soft and moist.  Flavor-wise it was strangely Japanese.  My first thought was some kind of seaweed, and after some investigation Dyson 2000 and I concluded it was dried kelp (昆布).  I thought there were also some other flavors of dried seafood, liked dried sakura shrimp (桜海老).  Whatever else it may have been, everything was overpowered by the use of too much black pepper.

While the restaurant advertises premium beef like grain-fed, hormone/antibiotics-free Black Angus and grass-fed Hereford, interestingly the so-called signature dishes did not carry any such designation.  When asked about the type of beef used in our dishes, the waitress didn't have a clue...and didn't bother to ask anyone.

Beef Wellington, 8-ounce: filet of tenderloin with mushroom duxelle, wrapped in Parma ham & out layered with puff pastry.  Served with red wine sauce - I asked for medium-rare, but it looked more like medium to me.  The beef itself was of reasonable quality and still juicy.  While I didn't see the layer of Parma ham, it was no doubt the reason why the layer of mushrooms between the beef and the pastry tasted so salty.

Filet Diane with wild mushrooms, 8-ounce: beef tenderloin served on a crouton & topped with demi-glace mushroom sauce - Dyson 2000 asked for medium-rare, and like me, what she got was medium.  While the beef itself was nicely done and still juicy, the sauce was a little on the salty side.

Creamy corn - sweet and very creamy indeed, but the texture was very grainy...

Creamy spinach - well-seasoned and not bad at all.

Wooloomooloo lemon and lime pie - the filling was OK but I would have liked for it to be a little more tart.  Brownie points for taking the effort to lightly brown the meringue on top.

Lemon Europa: lemon iced soufflé, with cassis patterns, sable cookies and caramelized orange slices, served over lemon curd - overall feeling was so-so... and the lemon curd was the same as what was used for my lemon pie...

2007 Bella Stella Shiraz - fruity with herbs, somewhat tannic and a spicy finish.

Our visit tonight reconfirmed that it just ain't my type of place... Service - while friendly - wasn't quite competent.  While there were no disasters, the food was average at best.  Worst of all, the staff seemed to have one particular CD - or part of a CD - on repeat, so that we ended up hearing a particular song at least 6 times during our 1½-hour dinner.  No matter how soft and soothing a song is, putting it on (very) heavy rotation is bound to get on your nerves...

For a more concise version published on AsiaTatler Dining, please visit here.

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