Rejoicing in the long Friday lunch at Marque

by Forager on September 2, 2010

Dining at a three hat restaurant is reserved for special occasions and this occasion was no exception. There were a couple of important milestones to celebrate amongst my colleagues; JC had reached a significant target at work and The Bride had an impending marriage date and was more than happy to shout it proudly to the heavens and whoever had a ear to listen. I’d managed to come into a bit of good fortune myself – I was lucky enough to draw Netherlands in the office sweepstakes and the runners-up in the FIFA World Cup scored me a handy $80 for my pro-orange cheering efforts.

So I decided to put my winnings to good use and treat my colleagues to the special Friday lunch at Marque to celebrate. Besides with the GFC now over, it’s high time we brought back the long Friday lunch! In booking this I discovered that despite both coming from strong food-oriented family backgrounds, not only was it the first time at a 3 hat restaurant for both JC and The Bride, but neither have dined at so-called “fancy restaurants “, indulged in degustations and the like. It’s realisations like these that remind me that I take these things for a little for granted..

All the other diners at Marque seem to be taking advantage of the Friday special and we see different tables at different stages of their meal and get glimpses here and there of what’s to come. We start with Marque’s famous amuse bouche.  Peering inside the delicate free range egg we see finely chopped chives and specks of oil floating on a foamy cushion. The amuse bouche is intended to amuse or stimulate the mouth and the chaud-froid of poached egg fits the bill perfectly – there was a cacophony of flavours, textures and temperatures attacking my mouth – cool rich foamy cream on top, spiked with aromatic spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, rich soft warm yolk on the bottom all lifted by the tart tang of vinegar. The salted grissini completed the spectrum of flavours and made for a great little tool to dip and swirl in the tasty egg concoction and the complimentary bread came in very handy to mop up the last drops.

Egg Amuse Bouche

Amuse bouche: chaud-froid of poached egg

No sooner do we finish the last of our amuse bouche do the wait staff whisk it away with efficiency and we’re quickly moved on to the first course which is simply titled buffalo mozzarella, leek, oyster and bread. I actually had to ask for the menu back as our waiter’s well-intentioned but poorly delivered mumbling was about intelligible as a teenage emo kid. We found ourselves nodding politely then conferring with each other to see whether we could cobble together what we each individually heard.

We had no complaints about the food itself though. The leek in dill oil was so intensely flavoured – so pure, rich, sweet and unmistakably leek flavoured. The beige-brown blobs of oyster emulsion didn’t look particularly impressive but tasted so good delivering a mouthful of concentrated oyster essence with every taste. The simple flavour of the light fluffy buffalo mozzarella and light as air bread wafers made perfect vessels for tasting the other flavours.

Both The Bride and JC marvelled at how amazingly pure and simple the flavours were. JC tends to use the word “amazing” to describe anything he approves of – but the real measure of how good he actually thinks it is is determined from the number of “a’s” he inserts and how drawn out the word becomes. He declares this dish as “Amaaaaazing!”

Entree buffalo mozzarella cheeky wine

Our entrees are served and Friday long lunches deserve a cheeky glass of wine

Buffalo mozzarella leek oyster

Entree: Buffalo mozzarella with leek, oyster and bread

For our mains we were presented with lamb rump with eggplant, hazelnuts, orange and mustard. The morsels of lamb were delicious – tender, soft, pink, full of flavour and so moreish. The lamb was still well in the realm of “bloody” – but we all agreed it was perfectly cooked for our tastes and we wouldn’t have wanted it cooked a micro second longer. The orange scented hazelnut crumbs provided crunch and texture – almost like a crumbled crackling sprinkling. Dollops of syrupy orange preserve provided a lighter fruity dimension to the dish and even though I found the lamb paired with orange combination unusual, I thought the sweet citrus complimented the lamb nicely. It was delicious and our meal was peppered with sighs and groans of contentment. We waited for JC ‘s verdict but he on the other hand ate in silence until he scraped away the last morsel of lamb. Then he sat back and declared it the tastiest meat he’s ever tasted in his life. He said previous to this meal he had only ever thought meat needed an accompanying sauce to lift and enhance the flavour – but this lamb was just “amaaazing” and he could a truckload more of it, just like that, unadorned with sauce. From his response I say it gets the JC seal of approval.

Lamb rump eggplant orange

Main: Lamb rump with eggplant, hazelnuts, orange and mustard

Our complimentary pre-dessert consisted of a petite portion of creme caramel. Except it wasn’t just any old creme caramel. The “caramel” portion was replaced with a reduction of Sauternes, a French style dessert wine. The effect was a light sweetness without the heavy texture of thick, viscous caramel and made the incredibly silky smooth rich creamy custard infinitely better. It was easily the best creme caramel I’ve ever had and we were all in unanimous agreement. We would’ve been more than happy to finish on that sweet note but we still had dessert to come.

Creme caramel

Pre-dessert: 'Creme caramel' with Sauternes syrup

The final course was dessert and placed before us was a rock solid slice of  semi-freddo style banana cake, with a delicate but unmistakable flavour of real banana – with no essences, flavourings or sweeteners to be noted, just ripe banana. Flanking it was the most delicate lace-like date tulle flavoured with a subtle hint of ginger, and shavings of something flaky (I didn’t quite catch the waiter’s description and one can only ask so many times before it becomes awkward). Sitting flush on the banana cake was a licorice or aniseed flavoured sprig coated in a barely perceptible clear casing of sugar. This candied leaf was delicate and crisp and we couldn’t discern whether the leaf was some form of anise plant or whether it was flavoured with aniseed, licorice or even Pernod. I have to say, we didn’t care much for the dessert and would’ve much preferred to finish on the pre-dessert. It’s interesting to note how quickly one gets accustomed to fine dining as JC who was just seconds before raving about the previous dishes and shaking his head with disbelief at the amaaazing flavours and presentation, screwed up his nose at this dish. But he had one hyperbole left up his sleeve. One nibble of that licorice leaf and he was dumbstruck, suddenly sitting upright in his seat, almost throwing his cutlery on the table with his vigour. He declared the leaf amaaazing – so good, in fact that it saved the dish!

I love dining with dramatic people. If nothing else, they’re full of brilliant quotes!

Banana cake date coffee

Dessert: Banana cake with date and coffee

We bypassed the coffees and petit fours and opted instead for a leisurely stroll in the sun back to the office. But back in the office, I could hear them both still raving about their meal and The Bride even found it necessary to ring her fiancé and primarily boast but secondarily convince him that it was necessary for them to head right back to Marque the following week just so he could experience the exact same meal. And JC now compares all meals to that meal at Marque and his expectations for team lunches have been raised considerably…

Celebrating milestones with friends at an affordable 3 hat restaurant and showing my colleagues why I love and rave about food and fine dining? Priceless. Well, not strictly priceless but at a mere $45pp – phenomenal value indeed.

.

Address:

Marque

4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Tel: (+612)9332-2225; email: dine@marquerestaurant.com.au

www.marquerestaurant.com.au

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark @ Cafe Campana September 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm

So the key thing to take from this post is that Marque is “amaaaaazing” :) The food looks very good and I want that banana cake. I think Mark Best’s egg is nearly photographed as much as Tetsuyas Pertunia trout.
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2 Richard Elliot September 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm

I went to Marque for the Friday lunch a couple of months ago and it was fantastic. The long Friday lunch definitely needs to be done more often! It’s such good value compared with the a la carte menu.
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3 Conor @ HoldtheBeef September 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Wow, that lamb certainly does look amaaaazing. I can also feel the crunch of those salted grissini just looking at them :)

I miss long Friday lunches.. we just don’t really have that back at uni. Perhaps I need to instigate this.
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4 Trissa September 2, 2010 at 10:03 pm

What great value – I can’t wait to go here… Mark Best is just so damn talented… and THAT EGG! Yum
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5 OohLookBel September 2, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Decisions: should I make a booking at Marque or Aria for my birthday in October? After that ‘amazing’ lunch you had, Marque is a slight nose in front…
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6 Jacq September 3, 2010 at 1:53 am

Haha great post! I loved the Marque Friday lunch when I went last year, it’s nice to see that the chaud-froid egg and the sauternes creme caramel are still on the menu. I have to agree that the creme caramel really is ‘amaaaaaazing’ and now after reading this post I think it’s high time that I go back to Marque for another laidback Friday lunch!
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7 Helen (grabyourfork) September 3, 2010 at 2:59 am

This is such an incredible meal at a phenomenal price point. I must get organised and get there soon. The most difficult thing would be having to get back to work!

8 Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella September 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

haha sounds like he should have an Amazing rating system! 😀 we really enjoyed our lunch here too. That was one good thing to come out of the GFC!
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9 Reemski September 3, 2010 at 9:35 pm

I love the prix fixe at Marque! Such great value. You must have had an off waiter though as the staff I’ve experienced there have always been superb and easy to hear! Go try the one up the street at Bentley: $55 for a tapas style lunch. Delicious!
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10 mademoiselle délicieuse September 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I’ve never worked anywhere that allows for a relaxed Friday lunch…or any day lunch for that matter! Need to change work locations. Or possibly profession. Or both =p Excellent value.
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11 Tina@foodboozeshoes September 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Sensational looking meal… If only I could work out a way to get out of work on a Friday…
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12 Ellie (Almost Bourdain) September 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Wow! What a great lunch at marque!

13 Bonnibella September 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

How sweet of you to treat your friends after a win. I would LOVE to have you as a friend! I adore the egg amuse and how fancy to get a pre-dessert at lunch. I like the idea of eating leeks with the mozzarella, oddly enough I haven’t seen that combo in the States.
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14 Anita September 8, 2010 at 10:22 pm

What a lovely dining experience. I would love to visit Marque. The creme caramel sounds divine.
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15 Zina @ tastedbytwo September 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Felix and I are having lunch at Marque as a final hurrah before the wedding. We were stoked to get a booking at this late minute, so we’re super excited! I’m no big fan of lamb, but the main looks beautiful.

16 Corinne @ Gourmantic September 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Dining (or lunching) at Marque is always an unforgettable experience that makes me want to return. And we often do. The presentation of the lamb dish is beautiful. I would have been tempted to eat before taking a photo! :)
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17 Forager September 16, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Hey Mark – I think you might be right! That egg is pretty amaaazing and deserves the photo paparazzi treatment!

Hey Richard – Agree – the a la carte menu prices are expected for such a high calibre restaurant – the long lunch prices – phenomenal and unheard of!

Hey Conor – Stand up for the uni folk! As a phd student the long lunch should be within your control!

Hey Trissa – From that delicious meal – I’d have to agree. Very talented!

Hey OohLookBel – Need I refer you to JC? He can re-iterate how amaaazing he thought it was! :)

Hey Jacq – absolutely! So glad the Friday laid back long lunches are back! And I could definitely indulge in that creme caramel every Friday!

Hey Helen – Yes, I have to admit, a long lunch, glass of wine.. work becomes much less inviting.

Hey Lorraine – Great idea! maybe its the 1 to 3 “a” in Amaaazing rating system – and yes, not a great deal of good came from the GFC except the great recession buster meals!

Hey Reemski – Ooh, Thanks for the tip – I definitely will :) Bentley – here I come!

Hey Mademoiselle Delicieuse – What?! Outraged for you – you’re starved of long Friday lunches! A travesty!

Hey Tina – Need to see a client? Team meeting? Running work errands? So many opportunities!

Hey Ellie – You should definitely get the girlfriends together when the little one is at school at indulge!

Hey Bonnibella – Aw shucks! I show my friends love through food :)

Hey Anita – The creme caramel was gorgeous – so silky smooth and creamy! The lunch is worth having for that alone!

Hey Zina – What a great way to celebrate! And hopefully as the menu is constantly changing you’ll get something other than lamb – although I have to say, it def didn’t have that “mutton” taste that people who don’t like lamb dislike.

Hey Corinne – Yes, great value but oh so special. Would you believe JC is still raving about it? It certainly left an impression!

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