Thanks to my foodie family at the FCBA – Food Critics and Bloggers Australia I won a photo competition for a $150- voucher to spend at Scarlett Restaurant in The Rocks. Scarlett Restaurant is part of the Harbour Rocks Hotel which, like its name indicates, is a hotel. It also contains the delightful Creperie Suzette which I have dined and reviewed previously. You would never imagine this is a restaurant in a hotel, it is an intimate experience with a big splash of the historic Rocks. Oddly the photo that won me the prize for this dining experience was the only photo for the competition I did not shoot, I set up the camera and fellow foodie, Laarni aka @threespoonsfull, shot the pic of me trying to stuff three burgers in my face at once. So it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t bring Laarni as my guest.
SCARLETT RESTAURANT VENUE:
Scarlett Restaurant by location is part of Sydney history. Located in The Rocks it is located on the site for the first hospital in Sydney. In addition to this I am having a guess but I do believe a part of the building is heritage listed. The walls are still original sandstone from The Rocks and the venue itself is small with limited external lighting. The combination of the old walls and the new refined fitout has a Parisian feel. Furthermore I am pretty certain the chairs and tables are the same as Creperie Suzette and the design is near identical. This is not an issue as both venues are beautiful.
The place is warmly lit with splashes of burgundy and one of the most remarkable paintings I have seen in a long time. Pictured above is part of the Grape Series from Robert Hannaford. I loved this painting so much I actually wrote to the manager asking her about it. The photograph does not give it justice but I was mesmerised, in love with it even.
The venue was superb, the painting amazing but one thing I barely noticed, that Laarni did, was the lack of any form of music. It needed some piped quartet music or the elegance of the venue itself wanted a soft cellist playing in the corner. That would have taken the ambience of the place next level.
BEST SERVICE OF THE YEAR:
In addition one final thing needs to be mentioned. The service from our waiter wins hands down best service of the year for Spooning Australia. I wish I could remember his name, this guy knew everything about the menu. I mean everything, most notably how the dishes were cooked. He never let us want for anything but was never intrusive to the table and slightly steered our choices if we were undecided. It was perfect 5 Star Silver Service and I applaud for that. If the venue reads this please pass on my thanks.
The drinks menu is as impressive as everything else at Scarlett Restaurant. They offer about ten cocktails, all read well, we (sadly) never indulged. They have about a dozen beers, local and imported, that are $10- or less. As far as beer goes I pretty much only order Kosciuszko Pale Ale if I locate it on the menu and it made me smile seeing it on there.
The wine is a nice selection also – sparklings range from $29- to $650- (for the Dom). Whites range from $48- t0 $112- for the bottle with a decent selection of by-the-glass. In conclusion reds range from $42- to $103-.
The wine list reads like a best of Australian wines with a splash of NZ thrown in for good measure plus some Italian and Spanish to make out the varieties. We settled on a nicely bodied Bremerton “Selkirk” Shiraz (2013) from god’s personal vineyard, South Australia. It was mid range and went down a treat.
I had to leave this section with a quote from the wine menu that I just love…….
Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.
Then came the food, just wowsers – it was delightful. The menu is broken up into fives. Five entrees, five mains and five desserts. Plus sides in addition. We ate no sides but the truffle and cheddar fries made me salivate. For people who love greens there is green beans or a green leaf salad to choose from.
Our selections for entrees were:
congee // $20 – spanner crab • pork belly butter foam for Laarni
cured trout // $22 – coriander pesto vanilla croutons • caviar for myself
These dishes were both sublime. Laarni’s congee was incredibly theatrical with our waiter pouring the smoking broth over the dish upon placing it on the table. She rated hers a 4/5 and I would agree as I got a taste of course. My cured trout was a phenomenon of flavours and textures. Coriander pesto was a revelation and the trout was tender and flavoursome. Add that pop of the caviar and I was multiple foodgasming and in a tastebud trance.
Our selections for mains were:
trois morceaux de porc // $34 – confit belly • chicharron siopao for Laarni
duck assiette // 36 – crêpe • miso • corn for myself
Again these dishes sung from a place of culinary heaven. That cello I requested for ambience was cooked into the flavours of these meals because they sung.
The trois morceaux de porc translates roughly to a trio composition of pork. Slow cooked pork, pork chicharron (a crispy pork chip made from the rind) and out of main shot (if I get this right) a siopao, which is a pork bun of sorts.
That duck assiette melted in my mouth – the miso and corn were perfect additions but the title of assiette was odd, if I have this correct an assiette is usually a showcase of foods. For example if I was served a tiny bit of each of the mains this would be an assiette. Or the best example is that Scarlett Restaurant actually serves a Chocolate Assiette – this showcases all the chef serves with chocolate. This could simply be my misinterpretation of the meaning here.
Regardless of points of wording we did try each others dishes and would have happily swapped for either.
Finally we shared a dessert and oddly this was the one dish neither of us was taken with. It tasted adequate but paled in comparison to the entree and the main. Our biggest issue was the plating of the below…..
mille feuille // $16 – hazelnut • pistachio • lemon velouté
Firstly the dish tasted nice. It’s a play on French language. Mille Feuille is basically a vanilla slice which is also known as a Napoleon around the world. This dish is made up of three flavours in the slice – hazelnut, pistachio and lemon. Velouté is velour or translated further to velvet. So it’s a trio of velvety flavours to give you a dessert slice. It is clever and it is nuanced but the presentation looked more American diner style for me. But this is probably the red, white and blue for the garnish, something that reads American to me but is also in honour of the French flag.
It passed for our tastes but I would have loved to have tried the Chocolate Assiette or the Coconut and Cinnamon Pan Cotta sounds sublime.
Scarlett Restaurant is a superb venue in The Rocks. It wins for me as the best service for 2016. The entrees and the mains were total winners but the dessert wasn’t a highlight for us. This will make my Top 10 venues of the year and I will be back, even if it is for a stealth late night art heist. Thanks to FCBA for giving me the opportunity to attend this delectable marvel.
Scarlett Restaurant Deets:
PH: (02) 8220 9999
BOOKINGS: A Must
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Limited
KID FRIENDLY: No
Breakfast: 6:30am – 10:00am (Mon – Fri) 7:00am – 10:30am (Sat – Sun)
Dinner: 5:30pm – 9:00pm (7 Days)
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.