Yesterday marked the last day of service and closure of one of Sydney’s finest restaurants. I was lucky enough to have dined there not too long ago, in celebration of my seven year anniversary so here is a tribute to what was an outstanding fine dining establishment.
Forty-One was located on the top floor of Chifley Tower and offered stunning views of Sydney and beyond. The decor was plush but understated, complementing the breathtaking panoramic views of Sydney’s skyline. The experience of witnessing a mellow sunset and the downpour of rain over a birds-eye view of Sydney, while tasting delectable masterpieces by Dietmar Sawyere was spectacular.
We had the Chef’s Tasting Menu which was $150 per person or $225 with matched wines.
We started with an amuse bouche of chilled oyster, soba and cucumber noodles with Vietnamese dressing. The Hawkesbury River pacific oyster’s natural firmness and slight saltiness was complemented with a fragrant dressing and refreshing chilled noodles. The creamy lingering taste of the oyster was a tease for the dishes to follow.
Next was herb marinated Kingfish slivers with a salad of yabbies, avocado, salmon roe and lemon, which was glistening and marvelous to look at. I’ve always adored the firm texture and subtle flavour of kingfish sashimi. This was matched with tiny crunchy croutons, the freshness of diced tomatoes and micro herbs, the luxurious taste of yabbies and salty bursts of salmon roe.
I was blown away with the delicate Asian flavours in this next course – pastilla of Chinese style roast duck, celeriac remoulade and crisp Hawkesbury “schoolie” prawns. A pastilla is traditionally a Moroccan pie with a crepe like pastry holding together slow-cooked pigeon or chicken that has been spiced and shredded and sometimes topped with a sweet sprinkle of cinnamon, sugar and ground nuts. This interpretation with roast duck was delectable! The shrimps were a stand out as well, reminding me of my mother’s version of Vietnamese salt & pepper fried shrimps – shrimps deep-fried with a coating of Chinese five-spice powder, rice flour, salt and pepper. Flash fried, we ate the shrimps whole, with tail and shell intact… It was so flavoursome and crispy. Overall, a well-balanced dish, particularly when paired with the thinly cut celeriac and wholesome remoulade.
Continuing on with the meat courses, we were served grilled sea scallop, pork belly confit, cauliflower and apple reduction. You all would know by now my ultimate weakness for pork belly (and suckling pig for that matter) and how excited I was to see it on the menu. When served however, the cube sized cut was rather disappointing in proportions to the plump juicy seared scallop. It was hot but the crackling was only borderlining on crisp. The cauliflower puree and miniature cubes of apple were also small in size but packed full of flavour. The playful contrast of sweetness and saltiness in this dish was divine.
Further enhancing my memories of the duck course prior to the pork belly, we were served a demi tasse of oriental duck consomme. It was aromatic and comforting with vivid tones of aniseed and ginger. I could have easily drank a whole pot of this.
For our main course, we were given a choice between meat and fish. Spotting tagliatelle as the accompaniment to the meat dish, I felt naturally inclined to choose it, so Zen opted for the fish dish so we could get a taste of both. Don’t some partnerships just work so well?
My fillet of rose veal with wood mushrooms and buttered tagliatelle noodles was scrumptious! While veal is normally associated with animal cruelty, ‘rose’ veal are suckled by their mothers, eat grass and live for about six months – longer than most pigs (source: Eco Salon). The earthy tones of the mushrooms highlighted the delicate flavours and tenderness of the rose veal and matched beautifully with the rough ribbons of buttered tagliatelle pasta.
In contrast, the slow cooked ocean trout fillet with etuvee (quick braise) of garden peas, vermouth and sorrel, was finer and more elegant in flavour.
While I was admiring the city skyline and processing the main course, Zen returned from the restroom and exclaimed with excitement about the views in the mens room. We couldn’t wait to share the views so he returned to the mens room with his camera phone and I went to the ladies room with my point & shoot camera, neatly tucked in my dress pocket. The top two photos below are from the ladies room and the bottom two are from the mens room. Stunning eh?
Finishing off the main course, we were then served fromart tilsit from Eudlo, Queensland with sauvignon blanc poached pear and beetroot oil followed by a palate cleanser of apple jelly and champagne foam. The tilsit was rich and dense in texture and had a slight nutty tone. It was superbly matched with delightful pieces of poached pear and a dynamic beetroot oil.
The apple jelly on the other hand had a sensational sweet and fresh flavour.
Dessert was a choice between a lemon & lime tart with strawberries, basil and mascarpone gelato or a white chocolate parfait with kirsch marinated cherries.
Tempted by the combination of basil and gelato, I opted for the tart. And it did not disappoint. The basil gelato was a wonderful coupling which worked really well with the slight tartness of the strawberries. Furthermore, the toffee coating the top of the filling added a level of delectable sophistication to the common lemon and lime tart.
Meanwhile Zen’s white chocolate parfait with kirsch marinated cherries was pure bliss. It was plated with a slice of frangipani pastry which was fragrant and oh so good.
Finishing off the night, we had tea and coffee and were able to choose our own petit fours from a tray of gorgeous tiny morsels. I couldn’t decide so asked for one of each. They were: pistachio biscuit, mango marshmallow, passionfruit jelly, Frangelico truffle and chocolate hazelnut fudge.
It was truly an exceptionally memorable night that I hope many of you have also had the opportunity of enjoying.
Forty One Restaurant
The Chifley Tower
2 Chifley Square, Sydney
Please note this restaurant has now closed.