After a series of strange coincidences involving the random discovery of connections between friends, clients and the chefs at Marque, I just knew it was where I had to take Zen on his birthday.
We arrived prompty for our 7pm reservation and were greeted by Mark himself -who two nights ago was awarded (a very well deserved win of) Chef Of The Year.
We started with Marque’s signature beetroot macaron with foie gras. The meringue was light and airy and literally melted in my mouth the instant it touched my tongue. I love the beautiful decadent flavours of the foie gras left lingering behind. It was a dish Mark has thoughtfully shared with Centennial Parklands Dining, where I first fell in love with this dish and Brett Graham of The Ledbury, where I had a second encounter.
Beetroot meringue with foie gras
It was clear to Zen and I that we would be opting for the degustation tasting menu (eight course for $145 plus $75 for matching wines). Unlike other three-hatted restaurants, Marque does not bring out the degustation menu at the start. We were asked to list foods we were allergic to or didn’t like to eat and as simple as that, the party in our mouths begun.
For those wondering, you do receive a detailed personalised dated copy of every course and wine you ate and drank at the end of the meal. I think the anticipation it builds course after course is a rather ingenious touch.
First up was the classic molecular gastronomy example which Marque attributes to Alain Passard. It was a marvelous play on hot and cold as well as textures and taste. Each time we dug in the crisp grissini, a new flavour evolved. The playful mix of vinegar and apple cider left me buzzing for more.
Chaud-froid free range egg
I didn’t take a photo of the bread on this night as I was sure the eight courses would be enough food porn for one post. We were offered a white or my personal favourite (I had at least 2 slices of these), the rye and caraway seed bread. The soft chewy texture and the dark taste was accompanied with a lovely soft butter.
Then next Mark surprised us with a sea urchin custard with mandarin and green tea powder. The custard was light and fluffy. The subtle sprinkle of green tea powder was refreshing with the delicate sea urchin flavours. It was really a dish you had to close your eyes for to savour each and every taste.
Sea urchin custard with mandarin and green tea powder
The first course took on a whimsical approach to textures. There was a coarse powder (popcorn dust), slippery softness (almond jelly), foam (almond gazpacho, sweet corn) and something that pops (avruga), all which accentuated the natural sweetness of the hand picked blue swimmer crab.
Almond jelly with blue swimmer crab, almond gazpacho, sweet corn and avruga
When the second course was brought out, I was rather regretful I had failed to mention goats cheese in my list of foods I don’t enjoy. Regardless, I popped the bocconcini which let out a small burst of goats curd. The strong aroma quickly mixed with the slithers of mint, red onion and globe artichoke. The taste was clean and refreshing.
Fine salad of globe artichoke ‘cru’ with goat curd bocconcini
The presentation of the third course was visually intriguing. The button mushrooms were treated and sliced in such a way that they were unrecognisable. However, when tasted, the complete earthiness reveals the mushroom’s identity fairly instantly. The bitter vibrant red cubes of Campari were strong and mighty, adding oomph to each mouthful of the gorgeously steamed scampi.
Steamed scampi with fish floss, scampi anglaise, campari and turnip
After the third course, we received another treat from the kitchen. This crab custard with foie gras was one of the most spectacular things I’ve had to date. Perhaps because it’s appearance is understated. The saw dust texture on top was frozen foie gras. The rich creamyness and cold taste was strangely very well matched with the warm crab custard. It was so divine, words cannot describe.
Crab custard with foie gras
Forth course was cured duck ham with jelly-like parmesan gnocchi, fresh and braised endive and duck liver. Although I absolutely adore seafood, at this stage, I was quite excited to be moving onto the meats! Overall, the different flavours made a delightful dish with the duck ham being the standout.
Duck ham with braised and fresh endive and parmesan
OMGosh. I didn’t realise it was possible to pair all of my favourite things into one. The pork jowl was slow cooked into a beautiful tender piece which had just the right amount of fat. The bed of spinach which hid the plump juicy oyster was an Asian inspired winner and the matchstick bundle of shaved truffle was even more flavoursome. I loved this course to bits!
Slow cooked pork jowl with spinach and pacific oyster
Sixth course. Just look at how juicy the Angus sirloin is -it was seared to perfection. And served with onion three ways. There was the miniature croquettes, sliced with chive vinaigrette and pureed with a beautiful smokiness. Inbetween were also two dollops of blood sausage mousse.
Angus sirloin with boudin noir, onion croqeuettes and smoked onion puree
I must have been so busy with eyeing the seventh course of Sauternes custard that I forgot to take a photo! The burnt caramel topping was delectably paired with the sweetness of the Sauternes custard.
And last but not least, roast pineapple in Szechuan pepper, orange and butter, served with chocolate soil and Manjimup truffle ice cream. The pineapple had a lovely malted texture with a hint of spice. I am undecided about the truffle ice cream, I may prefer keeping truffle within savoury dishes only. But the texture of the chocolate soil was both fun to look at and taste!
Caramelised pineapple with Manjimup truffle ice cream
We had our tea and coffee, some awesome salted caramel chocolates and bitter bon bons! The sugar coated bon bons burst to reveal an assortment of bitter liquers. I didn’t fancy the bitterness but the pinch of salt within the caramel chocolates were fantastic.
Zen, the birthday boy
A dinner at Marque is definitely a memorable fun filled adventure which tickles your taste buds and excites your imagination. Our wines were served by the sommelier assistant, Zoltan, who described like poetry where each wine came from and why it was paired. The service was just enough and the food was nothing short of spectacular. It was the perfect place to celebrate with a special someone.
Happy birthday Zen!
Medina Apartment Building
4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW
Phone: (02) 9332 2225