Every now and then you should treat yourself to something nice. I’d been hoarding some lovely little vouchers for the Observatory Hotel Day Spa for a special occasion. But with birthdays just gone and anniversaries too far away, there didn’t seem to be a conventional reason to celebrate. Except of course that we can (and I want to). So I booked myself and the Co-pilot in for a lovely long massage and rendezvous at the spa, followed by dinner at Galileo Restaurant.
The Co-pilot opted for an hour long stress-relief massage whilst I happily opted for a relaxation massage. Dressed in a soft robe and fluffy slippers, I skipped out of the change rooms to meet my masseur. It was almost farcical then when I craned my head right back to peer at the 6″6′ frame of my Bernie Mac doppelganger masseur. An hour later, I sit in the jacuzzi with the Co-pilot, twinkling lights overhead, his face relaxed and dreamy. I can’t say I’m overly relaxed from my massage. There is something very disconcerting about being massaged by a person whose single palm span is about the size of your entire back.
Refreshed and dressed, we head to the restaurant, hoping food will calm my nerves. It’s not the first time we’ve dined at Galileo. One previous occasion, we took 4 long hours to complete a 12 course degustation. So long that the Co-pilot roused me from my 11th course food coma and asked me to stand guard as he propped his head up in his hands and actually attempted to snooze for 5 minutes. A memory that always elicits a fond chuckle from us.
Tonight we are not in for the long haul – we’re taking advantage of Galileo’s current mid-week special. Two courses for only $49. A steal for a restaurant like Galileo! Hurrah for the GFC!
Once seated we’re served some grissini and bread to start. The grissini are surprisingly tasty and do their job to whet our appetites – parmesan and sesame, and curry and coconut.
The amuse bouche that arrives next is a rabbit confit croquette with basil pesto and tomato. The croquette is piping hot and the crisp exterior hides a creamy mixture of rabbit within. Simple and tasty.
The poor Co-pilot clumsily manages to make do with his injured hand. He wishes he had a heroic awe-inspiring story behind the injury – but he just injured himself dropping a coffee cup. A trip to theatre, general anaesthetic, a repaired tendon, many stiches and weeks of physiotherapy later, he is recovering quite well.
For my entree I can’t go past the homard ravioli, served with quail eggs, sauteed spinach and sauce civet. The plump, juicy morsels of homard lobster are heaven for a crustacean lover like me. The soft boiled quail eggs bleed out their creamy yolks to mix the the sauce civet. Now, I admit I went home and googled sauce civet as I haven’t heard of this sauce before, and I was suspicious of whether it was in any way related to civet cats and my earlier post on kopi luwak. Turns out it doesn’t. Apparently it’s more a stew than a sauce made from wild game, onions and lardons (bacon chunks).
The Co-pilot chooses the confit quail. This is beautifully presented with perfect concentric rings of port wine reduction, toasted almonds and African violets adorning the plate. Wrapped within the confit quail is foie gras, adding another dimension of richness to the dish, and accompanying this are shards of spiced brittle croutons, syrupy fig sauce and a mound of microherbs. The combination of flavours is curious but complementary although the spiced croutons may have been a tad too overpowering, tasting more like a gingery fruitcake.
For our mains I’ve chosen the roasted rabbit on the recommendation of a friend. This is served with truffle risotto, vegetable puree and rabbit jus. Again, I’ve chosen a dish perfectly suited to my palate and interests. It’s an interesting dish visually, with lots of different elements aspects to draw the eye. There is a chunk of rabbit flank and little meaty roulettes to one side, generous shaving of truffle on risotto on the other, but I am more enamoured with the adorable little racks of rabbit ribs and the taut, plump kidney sitting next to them. I don’t know why, but in the weeks preceding this meal I had a craving to try kidney. I couldn’t recall ever trying kidney before and suddenly I developed a craving for steak and kidney pie. About a split second after jubilantly popping that kidney into my mouth I realised I had eaten kidney before and the excitement fizzled. The rabbit racks were still entertaining though. I should say at this point the Co-pilot is looking at me with mild horror and can’t believe I enjoy offal. He’s glad he didn’t choose this dish, and from his perspective I can see how a non-offal eater fond of large fillets of meat might be slightly disappointed with this dish when they order the hearty sounding “roasted rabbit”.
The Co-pilot orders the roasted lamb loin with rosemary crust, olive tapenade, bacon and wilted cabbage. Looks can be deceiving here and in this case what appears to be two bloated, shiny lamb chops is actually a bulked up loin chop with a wedge of stewed zucchini bound to it with a glutinous, transparent substance not unlike a sausage skin. The lamb is perfectly cooked and still pink within and paired with the olive tapenade created another curious flavour combination. Interestingly there is no sign of the rosemary crust.
We also order a small side of mixed vegetables – consisting of brussel sprouts, garlic chives, asian greens, fried onion, bacon and herbs. I didn’t want to add this blurry photo in, but this simple but tasty side inspired me – brussel sprouts can taste good!
Lastly, before we leave the softly spoken sommelier, Christian, hands us a handwritten list of Argentinian wineries to visit when we head to South America in 2 months. We’d spoken to him about our upcoming trip when we chose our wines and to be able to quickly pick his brain and knowledge about the Mendoza region in Argentina certainly saved us lots of research. Little gestures like this aren’t expected but are so appreciated when they happen – they really raise customer care and service to another level.
Oh, in case you were wondering – of course Galileo offer dessert! The Co-pilot and I just prefer savoury flavours so with the $49 for 2 courses deal, we went for the entree and main combination. But you can have your cake and eat it too.
89 – 113 Kent Street, Sydney; (02)9256-2222
Open for breakfast from 6:30 – 10:30am; dinner Tues – Sat from 6:30pm onwards till close.
Foodie in the know:
Galileo Restaurant is currently offering a midweek special – Tues to Thurs, 2 courses for $49pp. Some dishes like the homard ravioli incur a surcharge. Sides and drinks are extra.
Galileo have recently added another offer: Tues – Sat, 3 courses for $79pp.
View Observatory Hotel in a larger map