I do love a good deal but when it comes to purchasing group-buying coupons, I’m usually quite picky. When I saw a voucher for a degustation at The Devonshire – a place I’ve wanted to try for a while – it was too good to pass up. It was good to see that they were busy because they were booked out for Friday nights several weeks in advance! We settled for an early dinner on Thursday night and even then the restaurant filled up quite quickly.
The 8-course degustation menu (normally $80pp) begins with a salt fish brandade that is formed into a little sphere, crumbed and deep fried. It’s a two-mouthful affair that is a little salty and creamy from the dill and caper sauce.
I normally don’t bother with photographing bread but my ears perk up at the mention of house-churned honey butter! The butter is soft and ever so slightly sweet from the honey.The next course arrives looking like art on a plate, with bright oranges and greens scattered around. A creamy mound of roast carrot and parmesan custard is dotted with black olive crumbs, providing a nice textural contrast to the smooth custard. Crushed peas and blobs of pea puree also adorn the plate, along with a single baby carrot cut in half.
This dish is not the most attractive, but see that black thing on top of the salmon? That delicious thing is a piece of tender squid with a thin crust of black squid ink. The salmon is prepared two ways with a small cube of poached salmon and a strip of cured salmon with dill.
We continue with the fish dishes with a piece of seared sea mullet blanketed by a luxurious potato butter. Hiding underneath the fish is buckwheat, celery bits and some plump mussels. There is also a deep fried mussel sitting on the edge of the plate.
We move onto the meat dishes and the poached chicken and sweetbread ballotine is absolutely delicious. A perfect disc of rolled chicken studded with sweetbreads is tender and succulent, and surrounded by caramelised shallots and a jerusalem artichoke foam.
The pork course is like the best comfort food you could think of. Meltingly soft braised pork neck, pork belly with a crispy tile of crackling on the top, and braised pork tail that’s been crumbed and deep fried all feature on this dish. There are also sections of pickled radish used to cut through the fattiness of the pork.
The pre-dessert course is a little glass of layered cheesecake mousse, quince jelly and salted caramel ice cream, topped with an almond crumble. It’s a simple dessert that is surprisingly addictive and I’m a bit dismayed when I get to the end of it because I wanted more!
The best is yet to come though – the final course is a bittersweet chocolate tart with a thin layer of prune on the bottom. The rich dark chocolate ganache is smooth and silky, and even more delicious when eaten in conjunction with the malt ice cream and the cognac jelly.
Overall, the food was perfectly executed and we were bursting at the seams when we left, so there was no question about quality or quantity. The service got a bit slower as the night went on and the restaurant filled up (I think we waited 30-45 minutes for our dessert), but it was worth the wait. Though we had purchased a voucher for the meal, I would happily have paid the normal price ($80pp) for the degustation and still thought it was great value for money.
204 Devonshire Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9698 9427
Lunch: Friday, 12pm-2.30pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm-10pm