Birthday Dinner

Birthday Dinner
The Snook kept our dinner destination a secret to the very end, helped enormously by my ignorance of Sydney geography. I knew we were going to Randwick… to Belmore Road… and then suddenly we pulled up to Restaurant Balzac. “Oh!” I said. “I know this place!” It was an inspired choice. After our last fancy dinner, I was looking for real food cooked exceptionally well, and that happens to be Matthew Kemp’s forte. We seriously considered the degustation, but frankly there were too many good things on the a la carte menu that just weren’t included. (Our menu was slightly different from the one posted.) I was also feeling adventurous. (This is probably fodder for a whole ‘nother post, but I’ve been reading Jeffrey Steingarten and I’ve decided to GET OVER my food phobias because they’re silly.) So in the end I had the “Wagyu Minute Steak with Café De Paris Butter, Gnocchi, Sweetbreads and Snails,” followed by the “Risotto with Fresh Truffle.” The Snook had the “Raviolo of Braised Quail and Chestnuts with Roasted Breast, Bacon and Sage” followed by pork neck (not listed) with “Boudin Noir, Pumpkin, and Brussel Sprouts.” Everything was fantastic. I’m serious; this was one of the best meals I’ve had in Sydney. My starter – including the snails and sweetbreads, of which I’m pretty sure I had both pancreas and thymus – was incredibly moreish, all caramelized meats and yummy carnivorousness. (I ate offal and I enjoyed it! Mr. Steingarten should be proud.) My truffle risotto… Well, to be honest when I read that truffle risotto was available, I envisioned the most delicious idealized truffle risotto ever, and quickly realized that it was not likely to live up to my expectations. I was wrong. I don’t even have the words to describe how good it was. There’s probably a German word of seventeen syllables that means “something that unexpectedly lives up to expectations you didn’t even think possibly could be realized.” It was that good, and it was a generous portion. (Goodbye, BMI!) The Snook and I were, of course, trading tastes of each other’s dishes, and his were just as good. Before our official dessert – bread and butter pudding for me, chocolate fondant for the Snook – they brought us a taster of Rhubarb Eton Mess that actually BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES. Is there anything better than crumbled meringue and real, heavy whipped cream? No, there is not. The service all night was excellent, not least because they brought my dessert with a birthday candle in it. We polished off a bottle of Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz (courtesy of Toast – thank you sir!) along with dessert wine and a gin & tonic each… which explains the clumsy and disjointed nature of this review. Suffice it to say that while Tetsuya’s was the height of modern art, Restaurant Balzac (courtesy of Matthew Kemp) was a damn fine meal. I can’t wait to go back.


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  1. Happy Birthday Darling

  2. Happy Birthday Kris! You’re looking great, I’m so proud of all you’ve accomplished this year. Can’t wait to see what your next year holds for you.

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