It feels good to finally cross off another item from my mental list of restaurants to go to. Justin North’s Etch has long been one of those restaurants that I’ve heard about, read about and drooled over but I’ve never had the opportunity to dine at. Tonight we’re celebrating Sir D’s new job with dinner at Etch in the quirky dining room adjoining the Intercontinental Hotel.
We decide to go with the degustation menu which includes 6 courses for $85 (now $90 I believe) or $125 for 6 courses plus matched wines (now $135). Not long after ordering, the first course arrives and it’s a beautiful dish of Petuna ocean trout which has been cured in beetroot to give it a pink hue. This is served with baby beetroot and baby radish, a streak of beetroot puree and a quenelle of horseradish cream to give the dish a nice kick.
The duck terrine is a perfect cross section of confit duck leg, duck breast, gizzards and pistachios for a bit of crunch. It’s deliciously meaty and not gamey at all, and the pickled cherries and coffee reduction act as a nice accompaniment.
When the next dish is brought out, the aroma of curry spices and sweet vanilla fills the air. There are two plump scallops sitting in a silky cauliflower puree and aromatic curry oil and vanilla gastrique. A small vegetable fritter known as bhaji sits in the centre which tastes similar to falafel. It seems like an unlikely combination of flavours but everything works surprisingly well together and I’m left wishing for more. This is my favourite savoury dish of the night.
We’re all wondering what the caramelised pig’s head is going to look like but it arrives as an innocent looking ballontine of meat encased by juicy pig skin. While the tender meat from the cheeks, jowl and tongue of the pig are inside the fatty pig skin casing, the pig’s ear has been crumbed and fried. Around the porcine centrepiece is a beautiful artwork of kohlrabi and rhubarb purees, with the tartness of the pickled rhubarb counteracting the fattiness from the pork.
For the final savoury course, a colourful plate looking like a spring garden is brought out. The spring lamb (yes it was Spring when we ate here…) is juicy and tender, and the richness of the meat is lifted by the fresh tomato and pea vinaigrette and the minted royal blue potatoes. The carrot and cumin puree provides some spice and warmth.
I’d been eagerly anticipating dessert and even the pre-dessert course is to die for. A tiny little dish is brought out containing a light as air “citrus cloud” which reminds me of a mousse but lighter, and a beautiful refreshing strawberry sorbet with strawberry and orange segments.
Dessert is, of course, Etch’s infamous caramel date tart with burnt butter ice cream and Earl Grey tea syrup. The tart has a beautiful golden crust and it is simply amazing. It is quite sweet but when paired with the burnt butter ice cream it’s perfect. I didn’t think I would like the syrup since I don’t like Earl Grey tea but I find that the flavour is quite subtle and compliments the tart well.
From the very beginning I was set on ordering the lolly tray and when it came out I couldn’t help but give a little squeal at the cuteness of it all. Four little jars held four of the most delectable sweets – from left to right we have the dark chocolate mint aero, violet sherbet, raspberry and white chocolate ice cream pops, and honey and almond brittle. The ice cream pops were my favourite, a crisp white chocolate casing around a sphere of raspberry ice cream. The violet sherbet fizzed crazily on the tongue, while the dark chocolate mint aero was exactly like an Aero bar minus the green. The honey and almond brittle was super crunchy and nutty with a pleasant buttery taste.
We were well and truly stuffed after all the food and I could feel a sugar high coming on from all the dessert whee!! The food at Etch was standout and though some of the dishes such as the caramelised pig’s head can be a little quirky like the decor (light bulbs with angel wings anyone?), I’m already keen to go back for a return visit.
62 Bridge Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9247 4777
Open Monday to Friday 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – late; Saturday 5pm – late