I recently celebrated my 21st birthday by having dinner with family and close friends at Après restaurant in Potts Point. The staff there were lovely for setting up two long tables for us complete with candles and printing out personalised menus.
I selected three entrees, three mains and three desserts for our group’s set menu and I sneakily sat myself next to two people who I knew would share dishes with me so I could sample all three of each course hehehe (thanks Sir D and Charm!). The price for 3 courses was $60.
Sir D and I chose a French martini from their extensive cocktail list whilst waiting for all the guests to arrive.
After our orders are taken, we are presented with a not-so-pretty amuse bouche of escargots. Don’t be put off by it’s appearance though – the snails are soaked in a rich, garlicky butter which just leaves us all wanting to mop up the sauce with some bread. Unfortunately there’s no free bread tonight and I seriously consider just downing the delicious garlic butter, but thankfully the plates are removed before I have time to clog up my arteries with fat.
The first entree I sample is the rabbit and mushroom presse, with a layer of serrano ham on top and a side of mustard fruits and olives. The presse with the serrano ham is quite salty, but pairs well with the sweet and spicy taste of the mustard fruits. The rabbit is not too gamey, and still allows the flavour of the mushrooms to shine through.
The next entree is the seared tuna belly, cooked to perfection with the tuna still being rare in the centre. Charm particularly likes the sweet capsicum coulis, even though she doesn’t like capsicum, and it serves as a great accompaniment to the tuna. I’m in love with the garlic cloves which look still raw but are sweet and soft when I bite into it.
The quail is quite substantial, containing two breast sections and two leg sections of the bird as well as pieces of soft beetroot and sweet, caramelised eschallots. The skin of the quail is nice and crispy whist the inside meat remains moist. I don’t taste much of an olive flavour in the olive jus though, but this is a good thing because I don’t like olives anyway :)
After a brief interlude the mains arrive. The kingfish fillet is absolutely delicious, being moist and flaky but with a lovely crispy skin. The fennel imparts a strong aniseed flavour to the beans and is very overpowering; so much so that I can’t detect any of the boillabaisse flavour in the sauce. The fish itself is devoured quickly but most of the beans get left behind.
The pork tenderloin arrives sliced on the plate and you can see the lovely pinkness in the centre. The meat is gorgeously tender although perhaps lacking a bit of flavour. This is easily rectified though by eating it with the deliciously creamy cauliflower puree or the crunchy celeriac remoulade.
By far my favourite main of the night is the spatchcock au vin. The breast piece of the spatchcock is rich with red wine flavour, but it is the ballotine of leg that sends me in raptures. The meat is succulent and tender and although not as strongly flavoured with wine as the breast, is flavoursome nonetheless. Queen Chu and DB can’t finish theirs and immediately Sir D and I swoop down upon their plates and start fighting over their leg pieces. It is that good.
Completely stuffed from the food (and also from scamming food off friends’ plates), I’m glad for the wait between the mains and dessert to allow me to digest. Especially since desserts are my favourite part of the meal! The macerated summer berries are beautifully presented in a wine glass with a layer of apple jelly, marscapone, berries and topped with a round of vanilla marscapone mousse. The mousse is flecked with vanilla and a nice sweetness to counteract the tartness of the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. There are also berries hidden in the apple jelly and all in all the dessert is a great summery way of ending the meal.
The tarte tatin was all sorts of banana-y goodness, with the tart being served warm and encrusted with crushed hazelnuts. The semi-freddo was delicious, being mostly sweet with tiny pieces of praline scattered in amongst the ice cream and the occasional hit of sour lime.
The creme brulee however was definitely the crowd favourite, with more than half the table ordering it! The toffee was a little disappointing – although it delivered a fantastic crack when the spoon went through, there just wasn’t enough of it! The actual custard part was delicious though, being smooth and creamy and not too eggy. The passionfruit cup was used creatively as a little bowl to hold the mango foam – very cute.
It was a great way to celebrate my birthday with family, friends and great food. Thank you to all the people at Après for the friendly service and fantastic meal, and thanks to all my family and friends who attended – you certainly made my day!
32 Orwell Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
Ph: +61 2 93331 1889
Lunch: Thursday & Friday, 12-3pm
Dinner: 7 days, 6pm til late
10% surcharge on public holidays