Bread is the introduction. The 初めまして。Simultaneously the most important piece of contact but also of least consequence. Bennelong has crafted their own brand of bread, with services outsourced to Sonoma Baking Co. to create fresh loaves for hollowed patrons. The word ‘outsourced’ isn’t very sexy and neither are introductions but they are both our current realities. Determining whether to shake hands or hug can be as awkward as trying to waltz as the other tries to tango. Does the perfect venue help detract from trepidation or accentuate accents with its improved acoustics?
Two slices make one each a no brainer. The crust on the outside is a hard shell, protecting pettable pillows on the inside, and I hope you are our bread personified.
By now, our cocktails have arrived so we drink the theatrics in deeply while eyeing the bartender’s concoctions. The very apt Pillars of the Community for you is a blunt swing at the start but went down smooth like mercury. The misconstrued Clouds of Passion is mine with an earnest tartness and an edible flower on top that says it is eager to please. With our poisons of choice, we’ve inadvertently revealed our hands to each other.
Starters are the first date and I am relieved that you’ve decided on the Seared Tartare of Rangers Valley Wagyu because it is full-bodied like the red wine you desire and all girls want something they can’t have. The crispy beef tendon add an audible crunch to an otherwise silent dish as you slip and slide on a trail of horseradish cream and capers.
My Local Royal red prawns have led me to believe that I will see more flowers tonight than I could ever expect at my own funeral. It’s a fun dish with moreish elements with the flavour of amaebi in a same, same but different sort of way. I enjoy acting like I know what I’m doing, inhaling the saffron cream, but what the fuck is an ‘agretti’ anyway?
Wandering into main course territory and we have very nearly warmed up. I’ve taken the lead with the Roasted Pink Snapper floating on a shellfish broth. I like radishes because they are uncomplicated adornments to a dish that wholly tastes like the sea. Lobster roe glistens under the light of the table lamp while the word emulsion breathes like sex. In a stark contrast to my dish that levitates, yours is firmly grounded in roots to the earth. The Arkady grass fed lamb is perhaps not as tender as I would have liked but the fermented rye is a clever diversion with its ability to snap, crackle and pop. It is a dish that pays homage to the spring fairy
Desserts is the end spelled backwards. I feel faux Australian for ordering Five textures of Queensland mango, for choosing panna cotta that I detest but I am so desperately in love with Bennelong it only makes sense to go where I have not ventured before. Every bite refines my past experiences with this fruit and I am taken back to the way I bend over my kitchen counter and ravage half a mango with juices running down my sunburnt skin. Sitting pretty across from me and From Across the Water is the Chocolate Cake. It is formidable decadence with eight layers of chocolate co-existing in various states of matter. And though I’ve seen the magic collapse before my eyes countless of times, I hold my breath and brace for it.
Bennelong is one of my favourite dining experiences in Sydney. Something about the food, the ambience, the location and some of the company I’ve had the pleasure to eat alongside with has always moved me.
Bennelong Part 1 here.