Quay 2.0 bridges the gap be­tween lux­u­ries old and new like no other fine diner.

Quay 2.0 bridges the gap be­tween lux­u­ries old and new like no other fine diner, writes PAT NOURSE.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Contents -

“Wow! It’s just not us!” com­mented @dan­niellemills. “Mm­m­mmm for a $4 mil­lion up­grade ex­pected a lot more,” @paul_k­wong_47 chimed in.

Most damn­ing of all was

@fis­now: “Is there a salad bar?”

So went the com­ments on pre­views of Quay’s new in­te­ri­ors on In­sta­gram in July. They speak of a sense of own­er­ship. These pun­ters don’t just cry out when the chef re­tires his snow egg from the dessert menu, they want to know where their damn table­cloths are.

But push through the door and those Siz­zler com­par­isons melt away in a rush of lush tex­tures and care­ful com­forts. A whis­per of a tart shell laden with shi­itake cus­tard and dusted with pork crack­ling. A silken savoury cus­tard draped with gleam­ing sea urchin roe. Sand crab and melt­ing strands of squid with a grilled cab­bage spine, the leaf of the same cab­bage, fer­mented and dried, turned into a translu­cent pane that shim­mers like the wing of a drag­on­fly. Yes, the olive uni­forms are un­for­tu­nate. And yes, serv­ing a course with long metal tweez­ers is clunky. But the new Quay un­locks new lev­els of plea­sure.

Palm heart and lo­tus seeds pro­vide the sub­lime tex­tu­ral con­trast in a bowl of “hand­har­vested” seafood: filmy sheets of raw scal­lop, von­gole and curls of oc­to­pus that are al­most heart­break­ing in their dain­ti­ness. Aged vine­gar and sea­weed in the dress­ing give it oomph. And it’ll be bet­ter still served with­out tweez­ers.

Look­ing around the room, which has been re­ori­ented to make more of the Bridge view, I won­der if the on­line com­menters re­mem­ber other Quay looks of years past. The carpet that looked like a woozy test-pat­tern. The pole-dance-chic mir­rored ceil­ings. To­day Quay’s in­te­ri­ors look less like a strip club or a Siz­zler and more like a Deco space­craft hov­er­ing over Cir­cu­lar Quay. When the ta­bles are beau­ti­ful and the acous­tics of the room are this well man­aged, the table­cloths aren’t con­spic­u­ous in their ab­sence.

Much is made of Peter Gil­more’s in­ter­est in na­ture, but he’s not re­ally a figs-on-a-plate sort of guy. How else do you read oys­ters that have been blitzed and sieved, turned into a cream and piped into a man-made ceramic oys­ter shell? A sprin­kle of crisp chicken skin soft­ens the hubris, though, and a healthy ap­pli­ca­tion of caviar gives the dish wings.

Gil­more has been play­ing with the theme of shell­fish and fatty pork for 15 years. In the lat­est it­er­a­tion, a piece of smoked jowl meets the shell­fish bounce of fan-shell ra­zor clams, in keep­ing with Quay’s rep­u­ta­tion for recher­ché in­gre­di­ents. Shi­itakes join the dots, and the whole thing is crowned with an airy puff of sea cu­cum­ber, per­haps the world’s most ex­pen­sive prawn cracker.

And dessert? “White coral”, a snap-frozen reef of white-cho­co­late ganache, co­conut cream and an oddly dense fei­joa ice-cream, is the in­tended re­place­ment for Gil­more’s vaunted snow egg.

I am more con­vinced, though, by an­other mono­chrome com­po­si­tion of prune jam and cream un­der a salty dune of sherry caramel crys­tals.

Some prac­ti­cal ad­vice: de­spite Quay 2.0 be­ing sold as a more “in­ter­ac­tive” ex­pe­ri­ence, your choice is now two dé­gus­ta­tions: six or 10 cour­ses. Do the six, not the 10 – the longer menu is too long, too much money and too much food. I can’t rec­om­mend the matched-drinks op­tions, ei­ther. But if you opt to go by the glass or bot­tle you can drink very well. Chal­lenge the somms to pull out a killer bot­tle for un­der $90 and they might pro­duce an $86 ries­ling from Mosel pro­ducer Julien Haart, which works beau­ti­fully across sev­eral cour­ses.

You have to feel for Quay’s wait­ers some­times. Rare in­gre­di­ents are all very well on the plate, but what about the poor souls who have to de­liver them? Over the course of my vis­its they have had to talk the ta­ble through Ten­nouji turnip, Wake­field cab­bage, and Job’s tears. They know the names of the ar­chi­tect, four ce­ram­i­cists, and the in­ven­tor of the sug­arsnap pea.

They de­liver these facts with warmth and care, morsels to savour rather than re­gur­gi­ta­tion by rote. This newly per­sonal touch makes more of a dif­fer­ence to Quay

2.0 than an acre of stingray-print leather and teal carpet. Where once you could feel like you were there to be fed through the Quay ma­chine, now Quay is there to feed you, its scale made hu­man, even as its hori­zons broaden.

Peter Gil­more’s bril­liance is undimmed. It’s the rad­i­cal ac­com­plish­ment of his food that, along with the re­mark­able set­ting, has al­ways put this place in a class of its own. Now, with a new in­ti­macy and a fresh fo­cus on ser­vice, the dream of mak­ing Quay Aus­tralia’s big­gest lit­tle restau­rant is be­com­ing real.

Above: Quay chef Peter Gil­more (left) and John Fink, cre­ative di­rec­tor of The Fink Group. Top left: smoked pork jowl with fan­shell ra­zor clams, shi­itake, and sea cu­cum­ber crack­ling.

Right: crys­tallised oloroso caramel, prune cream and jam. Be­low: win­ter broth, condi­ments and sea urchin roe cus­tard.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.