The weekend of the 10th & 11th of May was a perfect storm of food. On the night of the 10th, I visited Quay Restaurant with The Lady. This was in celebration my birthday. The twist is that my true birthday is actually on the 11th. Thing is, that coincides with Mother’s Day.
Given that your birthday is actually the day when your mum struggled the most, it only makes sense that Mother’s Day takes precedence. Indeed, you could say your birthday is a day to celebrate your mum!
Question is, where to go? The Bathers’ Pavilion popped up in my head, as it’s got the views, as well as the food to boot. Well, I had to trust opinions on the latter, but as it turns out I was most pleased with my choice. Read on!
Date Last Visited: 11/5/14
Address: 4 The Esplanade Balmoral, NSW
Recommended Dish(es): montagne au chocolate, mascarpone ingot
Living in the south means that a trip up north is generally thought of an occasion. I don’t drive 30km to eat every day, but when I do, I make sure I make the trip worthwhile.
Balmoral (well, Mosman) is a beautiful area. There is a reason why there’s a “Northern Beaches” but not a “Southern Beaches”. Sorry Coogee, but you’re only one exception whereas it’s the rule in the North.
Even if you’re not here for Bathers’, it’s worth coming here just to relax and enjoy the beach. It’s no Bondi, but it also doesn’t have Bondi’s insane tourist traffic.
The restaurant itself is not easy to miss. Not only is it gargantuan, it’s also the only such building on this side of the beach. Sure, the Public Dining Room isn’t too far away, but Bathers’ is much more recognisable, and is much larger.
There are two areas – the Bathers’ Kiosk, which is where casual diners can enjoy a more café-like experience (prices to match), and the actual Dining Room which is host to the one-hatted restaurant. Serge Dansereau is the man behind the scenes as chef de cuisine, with pastry chef Maxime Rotureau. Rotureau is awesome, as you’ll soon see.
Normally, Bathers’ does a 3-course menu for $110, or a degustation for $145. Don’t expect that for Mother’s Day though – it’s a 3-course for $150.
Sounding like a rip? Well it’s not a surprise really – it is Mother’s Day after all. Besides, with a full house, clearly the market’s there. In any case, the old saying “the quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten” is a good mindset to have when you’re talking about spoiling those you love.
Fortunately, bread isn’t a course, and is included in the menu. Great for mum, who was starving by that time – we only had a late breakfast that day, and this lunch started at 3pm (isn’t that afternoon tea?).
The bread didn’t come warm, but that didn’t matter as much as the butter was soft. The rolls were lapped up in a matter of minutes, and we were hankering for more.
For another course that isn’t actually a course, we’ve got an amuse bouche of tomato panna cotta . This is my first time experiencing such a dish, and I must say this was quite fab – it tasted very refreshing, with the taste of tomato very evident, but not overpowering. I can really only describe it as the essenece of tomato with the texture of panna cotta, made only better with some crunch to balance the textures out.
The dish definitely primed me for the meal to come!
Dad’s entree was the prawn & globe artichoke soup. This was my favourite entree – I wish I had chosen it for myself! A rich, hearty soup made this dish shine. There was an ample supply of prawns, quelling all thoughts of skimping on the seafood. There was a bit of mojama (smoked tuna) which added an extra umami sensation, paired with a jerky-like texture.
I wish this was served with bread, or Chinese steamed buns (man tou), which would have been awesome. As it stands by itself, it does border on the salty, and would be too much so for those particularly sensitive.
Mum’s entree continues to trend on the seafood, with a grilled toothfish. This was my least favourite entree, as the fish itself didn’t exhibit much flavour, with a lacklustre texture. My only memory was that the roe was great in delivery those burts of flavour that roe does so well. Other than that, nothing particularly special.
My entree, the terrine of tuna sashimi was a solid performer. I particularly liked how the dish sports a consistent look, yet there’s actually poached beetroot slices in between every piece of tuna. The result is a nice textural sensation where it’s not just too much of one or the other.
The tuna itself is alright, with nothing in particular to detract or commend on. What did provide a fantastic flavour boost is the beetroot jelly, which gave real life to the dish.
Bring on the mains!
Dad opts for a more conventional fish in the form of the crisp skin barramundi. The fish itself isn’t too great (actually the weakest of the three in terms of texture), but the lardo and smoked eggplant were very satisfying, proving to be excellent accompaniments to this sea catch.
Overall, the weakest of the three mains, but still makes for a decent serve.
Mum’s Tasmanian ocean trout is a solid performer, and amongst one of the better pink fishes I’ve had. The glaze on top tastes like a jelly in texture, and has sweet notes to it. It’s subtle, it’s great, and it doesn’t overpower the star of the show.
Speaking of the trout, it’s cooked sous-vide, so the fish is soft all the way through to the centre, a deliciously melty texture that I never tire of in a fish. Burts of additional flavour are provided by the charred fennel, which make for a surprisingly important element of the dish. Solid main!
Ah, the John Dory, my favourite cooked fish. I felt quite lucky in choosing what for me, was the best entree. The mushroom puree is the bomb, while the fish itself is very tender, but still fleshy and chewy. Lots of flavour all round, with crunchy celeriac to provide crunchy texture. Soft + crunch is an endless combo.
Much to my pleasant surprise, the grilled enoki is sensational, I wish there was far more of this on the plate. Easily the best main in terms of taste and satisfaction.
We get some salad with our mains; it’s your usual balsamic fare, so not much else to say. What is worth talking about is desserts! The time has arrived.
Remember Rotureau? Here is her domain, and boy has he done some great things with his sweet-tooth creativity. The mascarpone ingot is dad’s dessert. It looks amazing, doesn’t it? The sheen of the blood orange brulee, crunch of the hazelnut nibbles, the high-roller gold leaf presentation, it’s all there.
The great thing is, it tastes pretty much as good as it looks. The ingot itself is rich deliciousness, with a chocolate cake base that really gets the juices flowing. The textural interplay is all there. I think I ate half this dessert when I should only have had 1/3…oops.
A top dessert, one I will not so easily forget.
The weakest link in this dessert trio is the corella pear w/Indian spices. There wasn’t much going on here – the pears themselves were poached, but I’ve never liked poached pears much. They’re too boring, both texturally and flavour-wise. The rest of the dessert was all kinds of soft – soft rice pudding, soft sorbet, and so on. While some flavours were quite nice, it doesn’t shine next to the previous dessert.
And especially so when you see the next one…
Rivalling the mascarpone in quality and looks, the montagne au chocolate is a work of art that is matched in its looks by its taste. Yes that sentence doesn’t make sense but that’s what I’ll stick with. I seem to be on a golden run with desserts this weekend – Quay’s incredible offerings, with Bathers’ to follow is just awesome. Hat trick!
But really, this dessert is fab – chocolate four ways, crunch, creamy, thick and infused with lime. It’s all there, everything but the kitchen sink. Despite all of the creaminess and richness, it’s manageable.
This is the go-to dessert if you’re a chocolate fan. Nuff said?
As a special present for Mother’s Day, Bathers’ gave mum soap! I’m sure there’ll be some great uses here 🙂
After such a meal, there is no doubt we’d have to take a long walk to burn it all off. Leave some time for that and your belly will thank you.
So I set out to the North for a hunky dory experience – I think we got exactly that! Happy Mother’s Day!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀
- A wide selection of good seafood offerings
- The location
- The desserts are very good
Not so Awesome:
- Mother’s Day tax
- Some dishes are weaker than others