Wednesday, December 19, 2012


To celebrate our anniversary I decided I wanted to share a beautifully executed gastronomic experience with Spensley in Sydney. With Quay is booked out for dinner until March, would it be possible to find a restuarant with amazing food, a relaxed environment and didn't cost the first born child? After a lot of research, I decided to settle on a modern French restaurant in Surry Hills called Assiette. For us, non-Frenchies Assiette means 'plate' which is the perfect name for this no fuss modern French diner by Warren Turnbull. Once we were welcomed at the front door, a friendly staff member showed us to our table. Crisp linen, a room of clean lines broken up by a sexy peak into the kitchen and a trio of artwork depicting a playful woman's expressions. After a quick peak at the menu to ensure we weren't missing anything we proceeded with the degustation beginning with hiramasa (Kingfish) ceviche with coconut, heirloom tomato, jalapeno and yuzu. The challenge of ceviche is always taking the best fresh raw fish marinating it with citrus juice and a touch of spice but ensuring the fish isn't overpowered and this dish does it. The hiramasa was the star with uplifting citrus notes and the coconut milk balanced beautifully against the blanched tomato.  

The next dish that followed was Jannei goats' curd, vinocotto, figs, golden beetroot and cereal. I love all these flavours but the magic touch was the toasted cereal which added texture and additional sweetness.
The third dish was Glazed Silver Lake smoked eel, black sesame, grilled leek and onion puree. The black sesame and onion purees worked well with the smoked eel but I found the texture to be quite dense dense and the baby leek was challenging as even in gourmet food death it fought against being consumed. But I didn't mind as leek has never been one of my favourite vegetables. 

After the first three meals were served in quick succession we took a small break before moving onto Bass grouper with saffron parsnip, mussels, dulse and candied lemon. Though the bass grouper was lovely the most incredible component of this dish were the silky mussels so delicate that they came apart violently with a fork and dissolved in the mouth.

Crispy-skin quail, picked carrot, Szechuan salt and ginger vinegar signaled the end of the seafood dishes. Well presented, the quail was beautifully moist, tend and the picked carrot made for an easy flavour transition.

The Milly Hill lamb loin, aubergine puree, baked Jerusalem artichokes and balsamic jus was probably the most traditional dish featured on the degustation. Every component was beautifully cooked and I was almost fooled into thinking the Jerusalem artichoke was a potato. Delightful. 

Pre desserts are always a great way to cleanse the palette as even with the perfectly balanced portion sizes, moving from the rich lamb to a chocolate marquise would have been death. So we lingered for a while with this refreshing pana cotta with blood orange foam.

Our final dish was this ultra decadent Chocolate marquise and sorbet with salted caramel ice cream and cocoa nibs. It was gorgeous but I will admit I was judging it against the one I had earlier in the week at One Eleven. The One Eleven version was a little more tuned to my personal tastes with the fresh raspberries but if you like chocolate on chocolate, then this is heaven. Though I've given some personal thoughts on the flavours don't be fooled as the experience was impeccable. The venue is comfortable, staff are friendly and warm, food is divine but you only have until 22 December to enjoy Assiette as they will be closing their doors. Warren Turnbull will be relocating to New Zealand to focus on his more casual dining offerings. A true loss to Sydney, so if you have the opportunity try to sneak in while you still can!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Address: 48 Albion Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.
Open: Lunch, Thursday & Friday (12pm - 3pm), Dinner, Wednesday – Sunday (from 6pm).
Phone: (02) 9212 7979.
Price: Degustation $105 per person. Matched wines $65.

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