I love dinner. I love dinner even more on a cold and stormy night when you’re all warm and cosy, with belly warming food. The next best thing, is practically sitting in a restaurant kitchen with belly full of warming food! On this particular night, courtesy of Ripples Sydney Wharf via Prue at The Mint Partners, we were given the opportunity to test drive their version of a chef’s table. What’s a chef’s table? It’s when you can dine in the kitchen of the restaurant and get up close and personal with the crew preparing your food. Matt Moran has been doing it for some time at Aria, and I’m sure there are other gems hidden away, and only accessible on request.
In this instance, being a new restaurant with a unique layout, a small bar fronting the galley kitchen, with the main dining area being out on the wharf under cover, The Chef’s table is the bar, staring down the chefs!
Wearing a skirt, and being uber short, I rather precariously hoist myself up onto a stool, right in front of the pass, a deliciously warm spot in the abominable weather we received that evening. On settling myself in, I notice beautiful epi bread, with duck liver parfait, cranberry jelly, pickled prune and onion marmalade being nibbled on by other guests:
The onion marmalade is jammy and sweet, contrasting the rich duck liver…I also get a taste of the pesto butter, and wish I’d got more!
A beautifully presented amuse bouche is placed before us; a new season Spring Bay scallop, served with fennel salad and crustacean butter:
A very tasty morsel…
Given full freedom to roam the menu we cover off all options…For entree I choose light and cheesy! A twice baked goats cheese souffle with onion & thyme soubise
This souffle, although light feels like a perfect choice in this weather; hot, creamy and gooey balanced by mild, subtle flavour. If you’re not a fan of goat’s cheese, don’t be frightened…it’s very mild….
Other entrees include lush looking oysters with mignonette dressing…Can’t remember who had these? Maybe Lisa?
Most intriguing to me, not being an offal fan, is Helen’s grilled calves liver:
I try it, because it doesn’t have that overwhelming liver smell that puts me off, and I find I enjoy the rich texture which is beautifully opposed by the sweet red wine jus and crunchy witlof.
Ripples is well known for it’s fish and chips, and I can see why…
Huge serving, with fabulous chippies!
The duck leg confit is a popular choice, and as I slide down the other end of the bar to be sociable, I grab a taste of Mel’s dish and almost regret my choice of main!
My choice seat gives me a front row view of Head Chef Richard Park, preparing then plating the meat dishes. The 6-hour braised lamb, such an amazingly rich dish, is lush and meltingly fall apart, wrapped in a thin layer of pastry:
I’m so impressed at Billy being able to finish this off…
The kitchen, being very small for a such a large restaurant, has been carefully laid out to maximise efficiency and minimise cross contamination. As meats are the most technical and the most messy of dishes, they are exclusively prepared at one end by Head Chef.
I choose something I wouldn’t normally prepare at home, not for lack of trying, but simply for lack of mouths to feed, the rabbit fricassee, a rich braised rabbit on the bone, with gorgeous potato dumplings on the side..another great winter dish…
I didn’t get everyone else’s dishes, but there was Kingfish, and bouillabisse too!
After the kitchen had died down a bit and we were busy scarfing down the food and chatting, the kitchen got to cleaning. It was actually quite interesting to watch how thoroughly the kitchen is stripped back and scrubbed after service. So thoroughly that the dials on the stoves were removed and briefly soaked before being scrubbed, dried and replaced. Certainly makes you feel confident eating food produced in their kitchen!
We finally slow down, and rest our weary tums as we watch the crew snap back into action to prepare our desserts. We’re happily informed that we’ll get at least one of each…all the better to taste you see!
From top: apple tarte tatin, leatherwood honey & goats cheese parfait with gingerbread & poached quince, chocolate pyramid with nut dust and raspberry sorbet, and grand marnier creme caramel…There was also a chocolate & hazelnut pudding with chocolate sauce and icecream…yum…I just didn’t get a decent picture so go look at someone else’s!
I have to admit, chocolate addict that I am, my favourite dessert was actually the honey & goat’s cheese parfait. It wasn’t too sweet, but perfectly satisfying in combination with the quince, gingerbread and fairy floss…I’m also quite partial to creme caramel; a childhood taste developed by my mother who used to make it fairly regularly for me.
Definitely worth a visit, and despite appearances, very reasonably priced with no mains over $29…Being so close to the Lyric Theatre, they’re also a great alternative to the casino itself for a pre or post theatre meal…they’re open for breakfast too (perfect if you’ve hit the monthly growers market at Pyrmont and you want to sit down and relax away from the bustle).
Ripples Sydney Wharf
56 Pirrama Road
02 9571 1999