I’ve finally made it to the last birthday related post! In this post I mentioned that my mother’s birthday fell 2 days before mine this year due to some glitch in the lunar calendar. Well, to crowd the birthday space just that bit more, the Co-pilot’s younger sister, Phi, celebrates her birthday the day before mine. So I have the odd task of shopping for and buying someone else a birthday present around the time of my own birthday – but on the upside, we celebrate our birthdays together with the rest of the Co-pilot’s family.
For Phi’s birthday, the Co-pilot’s mum chose Restaurant Atelier in Glebe. The Co-pilot and I used to live in the colourful suburb of Glebe (incidentally, the word Glebe means land belong to the Church), so we knew the restaurant well but we hadn’t dined there since we moved from Glebe a few years ago. In preparation, I did my research and asked a well respected foodie friend on what to order from the current menu.
Restaurant Atelier lies hidden in a quiet sandstone cottage just off busy Parramatta Road. Their dining room was just as I remembered it – warm and cosy with soft lighting – great for intimate dinners, not so food-blogger photo friendly. Oh well, just as well I deliberately left my note book at home as I intended to be off duty for this meal.
Who was trying to kid? Note pad or not, it took me a mere 2 minutes before I started taking photos.
I sipped on a tasty, light mango beer whilst I perused the menu. Then as a surprise, we were presented with a bottle of Piper Heidsieck champagne, courtesy of Stewart, the foodie friend I’d consulted earlier. Thank you! It was a lovely treat and kick started our night of indulgence and gluttony.
We note that on Tuesdays to Thursday nights, Restaurant Atelier has a midweek dinner special: 3 courses for $65pp. And given we’re all having trouble deciding what to have and how to narrow those choices down, getting the 3 course special and sharing sounds like the winning option.
The sommelier, Evan Mitchell, comes over to announce the night’s specials in his deep, baritone, booming voice. Dishes made from Berkshire black cross pork make up a few of the entree and main specials and my ears prick up. I usually prefer pork over other cuts of meat, but my insider tips have also hinted that head Chef, Darren Templeman, does amazing things with pork. Sold – I’ll have all the pork you can stuff into me thanks!
The rest of the table choose different options from the menu ensuring we have a good tasting from the entire menu.
To start, we were offered an amuse bouche – but here’s where my lack of notebook failed me. I have no idea what it was – was it arancini? It looks like it could have been. I just remember it being tasty and polishing the plate clean. I blame my memory loss on old age.
For her entree, the Co-pilot’s mother chose the oxtail consomme. I didn’t get to try this myself but by all accounts it was a very tasty and rich dish. Certainly, those plump, juicy scallops resting on top would’ve satisfied me.
The Co-pilot and I shared all our courses (as per usual) and we chose the entree special of pork and veal sausages with rocket, walnut and fennel salad. The sausages were juicy and full of flavour, the richness lifted by the bitter notes in the rocket, fennel and tannin-rich walnuts.
The second entree we shared was the wagyu tartare. The tartare was just delicious: the rich fatty wagyu combined with the gooey egg yolk sliding down my throat effortlessly, the herbs and chopped cornichons in the tartare adding to the dish’s piquancy. I don’t often eat tartare but every time I do I’m reminded how much I enjoy it.
The Co-pilot’s father and sisters, Phi & Liv, ordered the marron tail and were presented with a wonderfully vibrant dish popping with bright colours. The fat marron tail was a generous size and elicited groans of delight, but it was pea and ham ice cream that was most interesting, so true to flavour it raised eyebrows and surprised murmurs of appreciation.
On to our mains. The Co-pilot’s sisters shared the duck breast – a delectable piece of crispy seared skin with tender, rosy pink breast beneath.
The Co-pilot’s mother had the fish – a visually impressive dish of John Dory fillets in the center surrounded with alternating pillars of potato and Eryngii mushrooms that looked like cute little toadstools. The red elk on top just added the illusion of moss to the whimsical forest scene.
Speaking of visually impressive dishes, the Co-pilot and I shared the venison. A bold half moon of vivid confit carrot puree leapt from the plate and contrasted sharply with the dark hues of the venison and sauce drizzled over the plate. Incidentally, the venison was delicious too! Venison is a very lean meat that is easily overcooked, but this was very tender. The cocoa added a touch of bitter earthiness that contrasted the sweetness of the dish.
The other dish we shared was another pork special – the pork loin. Placed before us were thickly sliced slabs of pork loin but our eyes were drawn to that perfect rectangle of crackling on top. And it was as toothsome as it looked – the crackling initially snaps and crunches under my teeth releasing that delicious salty, porky flavour, then gives way to the gooeyness that remains like pork flavoured taffy. It’s the Co-pilot’s favourite texture: “crunchy-chewy”. The pork loin itself was tender and juicy – it was so much porky goodness – a moreish dish that I could eat anyday.
The Co-pilot’s sisters opted for the other pork special – the confit pork belly. Madness! As if pork belly wasn’t fatty and rich enough – who needs a confit version? But their groans of delight from his sisters and quiet whispers of “so good” between mouthfuls proved me otherwise.
For our dessert courses we decided to pool and share our choices amongst the table – cheeses and 3 tempting desserts. We started with the cheese platter – a variety of pungent blues, ripe and oozing soft cheeses and sharp crumbly cheddars.
As we were sharing, the desserts came all at once. The Co-pilot and I chose the tonka bean creme brulee – a no brainer as our source had advised that Darren Templeman has a penchant for tonka bean desserts, and because the Co-pilot adores the toffee top on creme brulees. It was silky and creamy with a subtle flavour like nutty vanilla.
Our second dessert was the fig leaf and vanilla pannacotta. The wobbly pannacotta was rich and creamy but the flavour was just vanilla for me – any fig leaf flavours were too subtle for me to detect. Nonetheless, the sweet fresh figs and buttery rich ice cream was a nice pairing.
Our last dessert choice was the pear and caramel souffle. The souffle arrived puffed and perky alongside a milkshake adorned with a chocolate straw. I always find it a shame to have to deflate the delicate souffle balloon, but the mouthful of light, airy sweet pear flavoured souffle soon dashes away any reservations I had. The accompanying milkshake was sweet, foamy, ever so subtley pear flavoured with a hint of molten chocolate from the edible straw.
On that sweet note we end of the night satiated – we’ve celebrated Phi’s birthday by sharing delicious fresh, sweet and savoury dishes with family. There are birthday wishes all around as we parted for the night, the Co-pilot’s twenty-something sisters gathered their things for a music gig they were due at and asked me and the Co-pilot whether we’d liked to go. The Co-pilot and I rubbed our swollen bellies and without a moment’s hesitation pointed out that it was a school night and we both had to work the next day. As his sisters sauntered off to their gig, the Co-pilot, his parents and I headed home and at that point, on the eve of the last day of my twenties, I realised I haven’t been twenty for quite a while.
22 Glebe Point Road, Glebe; (02)9566-2112
Open for dinner: Tuesday – Saturday from 6pm; BYO Tuesday – Friday (corkage applies)
Foodie in the know:
As mentioned in the post, on Tuesdays to Thursday nights, Restaurant Atelier has a midweek dinner special: 3 courses for $65pp. They also offer a tailored degustation for $85pp, or $140 with matched wines. Oh, and try the pork.
View Restaurant Atelier in a larger map