Black by Ezard – It’s My Birthday!
YES, exams are finally over! I can’t stress how joyous I am at this fact. No comment on the exam period itself (it was “meh”), let’s get on with the food shall we?
My birthday was actually back in May 11, which makes this post quite late, yet the date of visit to Black earlier than that date. That’s just how the world works, unfortunately.
I must say, I’m pretty spoilt in terms of birthday dinners – I went to three-hatted Rockpool on George with my parents, and was taken to Bentley Restaurant by an awesome friend. Now, it’s The Lady’s turn to treat me to Ezard. Gosh, I really am grateful
Even luckier? The 5th of May (my visit to Black) was the last day on which they actually ran a degustation menu. That’s right, you can’t get a deg anymore at Black!
It’s not all bad though…all the dishes can be ordered a la carte anyway, you’ll simply be paying a bit more if you want to recreate the deg.
Onto the food!
Date Last Visited: 5/5/13
Address: The Star (80 Pyrmont St Sydney, NSW 2009)
Recommended Dish(es): chocolate w/warm couverture ganache, dulce de leche ice cream, peanut butter mousse
As one would expect of a furnished restaurant at The Star, Black lives up to its decor practices – dark wooden lines yet flush with a modern backdrop of furnishings.
Window seats are a must, as the views, while not on par with restaurants of Sydney’s glorious harbour, have their own local Pirrama charm.
Failing the window, you could be satisfied sitting near or at the bar – it’s got the looks, and chances are, the drinks to boot.
One other place to sit would be at the booths smack in the middle of the restaurant – good for people who like to rub shoulders with each other.
Black’s degustation is for 6 courses at a price of $120. In line with degs of other one-hatted restaurants.
Black definitely has the strongest start of any fine dining restaurant I’ve been to. Why? Because they go SO much further than just providing you with a choice of sourdough or rye bread (though points for those restaurants that provide it hot). Those breads are alright.
But a mini-loaf of warm brioche? Yeah okay, you’ve got me. I love brioche, as I’ve demonstrated over and over again. As the first restaurant to offer a loaf of brioche as its standard starting bread, a million points to Black.
It was so good – buttery soft, with that slightly sweet hint which you know is there but always eludes you when you try and decide just where it’s coming from. The provided volcanic salt is well…just salt, albeit with a slightly smoked flavour. You’ll enjoy the brioche with or without it.
Oh, and I had two, it’s that good. The Lady noted that we weren’t asked whether we would like a 3rd loaf or not, I can totally understand
Amuze bouche comes in the form of a delightfully colourful bruschetta which certainly takes this humble “diced tomatoes on bread” concept very, very far.
It was very enjoyable, with the balsamic vinaigrette providing ample levels of tang. The overall packaged tasted really, really fresh, as if every ingredient was prepared the moment it came out of the ground/curdle. The buffalo mozzarella pretty much ties everything in together, with the toast as the base. Great!
This sashimi may be one of the “spiciest” I’ve ever had. Now, that’s not saying much, since it’s not actually very hot per se, it’s just that of the sashimi I’ve had before that’s had spices sprinkled on top, this happened to be the most noticeable. The Lady (who’s not particularly spice-tolerant) found it on the brink of too much, while I thought it was “feelin’ fine” level.
Texturally, the kingfish is very smooth, pretty much glides in your mouth as you chew it. The shallot dressing is quite strong – this is definitely a sashimi dish which is meant to hit your senses. So much for the tradition of starting light and getting heavier right? Well if it works, it works and we’re all the better for it.
I have to say, this dish would be excellent if it was served smaller, or with copious portions of ice cream right afterwards. It’s one of the heaviest dishes I’ve ever had, not so much in terms of grease, but the combination of the egg oozing that incredible yolk, the hearty potato cream and the fatty jamon…you end up getting something that, in all honesty, got me up to feeling no longer hungry. It’s a shame, as the meal just got started, and this dish set the pace and feeling for the dishes to come.
Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s a severe pacing issue that throws off the degustation – pacing and the complementarities of each dish and their predecessors/successors is very important.
Double shame, because this dish is actually really good – the egg is perfect, the jamon full of smoky woody flavour, the potato cream knocks the socks of most mashes I’ve had. But as they say, timing is everything.
The classic cooked seafood dish, ocean trout makes a splash (hurr hurr) with lots of fanciful accompaniments.
Le trout is a little raw in the centre compared to the outside, but this imbalance is barely perceptible. It mainly affects the texture in that it’s a bit soft at the centre. Otherwise, an average ocean trout that does the job of seafood craving satisfaction.
The crakling will actually crackle if you dip it into the emulsion – I suggest giving that a go for some fun! As usual, black garlic is an absolute winner – without it the dish would just be so much less.
Overall, quite a busy dish, great visually, a bit less so on taste, but a pretty good main nonetheless!
By this point in the time, the red meat dish had better have come out otherwise I’d be bursting at the belly button seams. Luckily for my stomach, it’s a svelte strip of steak that’s marvelously cooked to a medium-rare. The flavour is quite subtle, a hint of charcoal from the seared sides (which are quite crispy for a steak), with a bold hit from the pinkiss meat within.
Oh my indeedo.
This is the dish to get, Ezard’s pride. It’s the one that all the reviewers and bloggers talk about, and I can kind of see why.
The process? Well, it’s a semi-hollow chocolate sphere filled with peanut butter mousse & ice cream. A waiter will then pour warm couverture chocolate over it, cracking the delicate shell exposing the insides. As the chocolate wasn’t /that/ warm but the ice cream is very cold, the chocolate then hardens and you have one exotically made dessert!
It tastes wonderful. Super super rich – couverture is made with extra amounts of cocoa butter so that richness really wants to get noticed. The ice cream and peanut butter mousse taste like a variation on salted caramel – salted peanut butter? You got it! A definitive cheat dessert, I’m not sure how I would have it any other way, apart from making it lighter on the palate.
As likely to overwhelm as it is to amaze, that is Ezard’s dessert.
By this point, I’m positively stuffed – I could’ve quit two dishes ago actually, and that dessert counted for two itself. But of course, can’t go without some petit fours!
The left and right ones are almond nougat/crispy sugarbread, while the centre one is a chocolate hemisphere w/orange centre. I particularly liked that one – it has a very nice surface.
However, in all honesty, it was hard to enjoy the petit fours because we got so full so long ago already.
Ezard’s degustation has some serious teething problems with regards to pacing and dish choices. I suppose them removing their deg menu pretty much makes this point moot – just be sure to choose your dishes wisely yourself when you create your own menu.
One last thing about Ezard – the service, while quite good for a restaurant in general, falls somewhat short of hatted service. Some of our dishes were not explained, while others were, and there were some sizable gaps (relative to others) of the timing for some of the dishes.
Other than that, I have little hesitation to recommend Ezard
Yours truly, because I had a photo and itched to use it (yep, that’s it!)
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Awesome: some dishes blew the mind in flavour, dessert was pretty cool
Not so Awesome: meal pacing was all off, some dishes very heavy, others simply average, service was a little inconsistent