Address: 204 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9283 3440
Cuisine: French/modern European
Opening hours: 12:00pm-2:30pm (Mon-Fri), 6:00pm-10:30pm (Mon-Sat)
Bécasse is well known in Sydney for its unique combination of culinary innovation with traditional tastes. After several tries and eventually booking a month in advance, G and I visited it for the first time – and it did not disappoint. The restaurant is located at the Druitt Street end of Clarence Street, a quiet location that is mere minutes from the hustle and bustle of Town Hall. At dinner time, the muted external decor makes the restaurant almost hard to spot amongst the half-lit low-rise office buildings and shuttered cafes – especially when one’s eye is drawn to the spectacular white stair case of the award-winning Alliance Française building across the street.
The understated ambience is continued in-doors – while the gentle light of the street lamp filters through the Romanesque arch windows, frosted glass makes it clear that the interior is a world away from the common street outside. Behind a heavy glass door and dark drapery, the restaurant is divided into three areas: a sunken area close to the kitchen, from which diners can watch dishes being plated at a counter; the entry-level area with a series of relatively small tables, generously spaced from each other; and an upstairs area for larger groups. The colour scheme tends towards the warmer end, with dark drapery accentuated here and there with mirrors and simple abstract art. The candle at the table (not, Cafe Sydney should note, a flickering light bulb) sits in a glass bowl of water and sprig of flower. G and I were seated in the entry-level section.
The menu is pricey, and I got the impression that most diners were there for an occasion of some kind. The menu offers the options of a la carte or degustation. The two of us chose the (carnivorous) degustation (as opposed to the vegetarian option) at $130 per person. Optional matching wines with every course is an additional $60 per person.
After some canapes and amuse bouche, here were the dishes we sampled:
Salad of marinated heirloom vegetables with sugar snap mousseline, black olive and lemon balm: beautifully arranged plate of simple vegetables, with subtle sauces that well-complement the natural flavours
Confit miso blue-eye and smoked scallop with sauteed cuttlefish, cauliflower and buckwheat: lightly sauteed seafood, almost sashimi-like; best part is the sauce. Toasted buckwheat adds a nice surprise
Forgotten vegetables slow cooked in smoking cedar with aged pork jowl, scratchings and jus gras: like a rustic pork dish, but with the pork reduced to a hint and the vegetables enlarged to become the main part. Presented with a slice of lit cedar wood.
Roast Palmers Island mulloway with king prawns, soubise puree and smoked crustacea emulsion: familiar taste of fish and prawn given new meaning by the sauce
Caramelised suckling pig and braised pork tail with roast parsnip and compressed apple: a deconstructed variation on a roast pork dish, with a bite of roast pork and a bite of braised pork
Daube of Blackmore’s full-blood wagyu shin with potato baked in ash, Jerusalem artichoke and jus Bordelaise: the ash-wrapped potato was an interesting taste; the fattiness of the wagyu was well-used
Orange and cardamon pannacotta with blood orange, beetroot and vanilla: a thin panna cotta covered with the intersecting textures and flavours of the toppings. Beautifully presented and a refreshing transition into the dessert courses
Banana creme brulee with salted peanut brittle and milk coffee sorbet: a deconstructivist interpretation of the creme brulee. Banana in creme brulee is a little rich and quite sweet, but combines well with the fairly salty peanut brittle
Zokoko 70% Bolivia chocolate and caramel ‘cadeau’ with organic vanilla and milk sorbet: the cadeau is a perfectly formed dome. The sorbet is surprisingly nice – and tastes very different to vanilla ice cream
We finished with tea and petit fours (included in the meal).
Conclusion: Quality food, at once adventurous yet familiar, perfectly managed production
Value for money: 7/10