Tasted by / January 13, 2010

Marque is a bit of a puzzle to me really. A well respected 3-hat diner loved by many critiques, but with mixed reviews from patrons. Classic French trained chef who dabbles in molecular cuisine. I’ve also read that the head chef was likened to Sydney’s very own Willy Wonka. It was always going to be a interesting experience even without walking into the place. One thing was for sure, Marque always strikes a thought in mind and with a small group of keen foodies ready to be pleased, we all naturally opted for the degustation ($145 p.p + $75 for wines) and buckled up for the factory tour.

Chaud-Froid Free Range Egg

Hot and cold, salty and sour – a hurrican of mouth sensory, this dish kicked off the Marque journey. The salted grissini sticks made it somewhat playful to eat acting both as a swizzle stick and something to dip and bite into. It was a shame that I didn’t mix the contents very well as I was left with the rich yolk at the bottom of the cute egg shell.

Almond Jelly with Blue Swimmer Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Sweet Corn and Avruga

“Hmmm” best sums up this dish. The dusting of popcorn and its ‘dryness’ was a unique pairing to the ‘wet’ almond jelly, gazpacho, caviar and crab hidden underneath it all. The jelly reminded me of a meringue that gave way to the sweet crab meat and briny caviar. Whilst not something I crave for, it was very Marque dish.

Cured Kingfish with Celery, Vanilla, Lime and Green Tea

Being quite the fan of kingfish, I liked the clean flavours on this one. The green tea added a touch of bitterness whilst thin slices of celery added a nice crunch to it all.

Steamed Scampi with Fish Flss, Scampi Anglaise, Campari and Turnip

The red cubes of Campari soaked turnips in this dish puzzled me. Way too bitter by its itself and overpowering paired with the scampi. The fish floss combination was talking point at best, not adding much in terms of taste. Despite the mish-mash on the plate, the steamed scampi tasted almost like semi-cooked sashimi – soft, but slightly slimy and not particularly pleasing.

What was really disappointing with this was that one of my fellow diners had a dead mosquito lying on their plate as it was served. I don’t understand how the chefs did not notice this during plating, nor the waiter serving it. Surely a dead insect should be blaringly obvious on a white plate under the lights? The offending dish was taken away in an instant to return again with apologies.  This is not acceptable, especially at this level. Whilst I’m on service, one of the ladies walking around reminded me of my high school teacher for english. Not that it concerns everyone besides myself.

White Asparagus with Muscovy Duck Ham, Duxelle, Parmesan and Potato

On a more positive note, this dish was probably my favourite for the night. The duck ham was packing full of flavour and very nice. I also liked the presentation of asparagus stumps and the ultra-thin purple potato shards that reminded me of stained glass.

Slow Cooked Pork Jowl with Spinach and Pacific Oyster

I didn’t know that jowl was the cut below the jaw and being a lazy muscle, the texture was like biting into fat. I wonder what my jowl would be like. The addition of oyster didn’t help me as I don’t particularly favour them. Jowl + oyster made were of too similar textures  and summing up to be pretty average course.

Wagyu Sirloin with Black Olve, Earl Grey Ash, Burnt Cucumber and Onion

The final savoury course was quite conventional being a grilled Wagyu sirloin. The acidic onions and cucumber kept the dishfrom being overly-rish, however the steak was quite lean in the first place.

Sauternes Custard

Pre-dessert of Sauternes custard departs from the typical sorbets that most places serve to cleanse the palate. I didn’t know what Sauternes was until I Googled it at home and found out it was a French dessert wine. Custard was smooth and almost a crème caramel for adults.

New Seasons Peach with Purslane, Meringue, Coffee and Amaretto

For a degustation at this level and given the hit-n-misses throughout the night, I really wanted Marque to finish off with some redemption. Unfortunately, the dessert of fresh peaches dabbled in yoghurt and coffee ice cream was very underwhelming. When this was served, I believe I heard some grumbling from the female crew who had ‘saved themselves’ for a killer finale.  Yes, peaches were in season but to serve them simply sliced is almost agricultural.

Salted Caramel Chocolates and Bitter Bon Bons

The bitter (again with the bitter things) bon bons were given precaution from the waiter for its thin candied shell. Underestimating the warning, I bit into one halfway only to unleash its bitter liquid center with some of it spilling over on my shirt. Thank goodness I wasn’t wearing white.

If I were to put my finger on it, Marque was probably a restaurant that muddled with my brain more than played my tastebuds and tummy. At times, some of the dishes tried too hard to be different and where the dishes reverted back to simplicity, the results were quite yawn-worthy. This is probably why it the overall experience didn’t hit the mark (excuse the pun) for me.

Scoresheet

Food = 13/20
Service = 6/10
Ambience = 8/10
Value = 5/10

Overall = 32/50

Earns the FTLOF STRIKE!

(Star rating equivalent = 3.2)

Marque

4/355 Crown St,
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9332 2225

Marque on Urbanspoon

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