Auckland: Sidart (Aug. 2013)
Exec Chef: Sid Sahrawat
Date: August 9, 2013
I’m in New Zealand for a few days, and I decided to stop by a fine dining restaurant during my time in Auckland. I settled on Sidart, which is apparently one of the top fine dining restaurants in the city. (The actual story is that I made my reservation around 5 p.m. the day of. I had just jumped off a 192-meter building, and I wanted some good food to relax me. Sidart just happened to have a seat available haha.) The food looked exciting, though, so I was looking forward to the meal!
The restaurant is kind of in a weird location. It’s in Ponsonby, but it’s inside this mall that definitely doesn’t seem like it would harbor a high-end restaurant like this one.
0: Bad / can do without eating
1: Solid / decent
3: EXCELLENT / one of the best things I’ve ever eaten
(Unless I list a 0, 2, or 3, assume that the dish was a 1.)
Sourdough roll with truffle butter.
Victor: This was a pleasant start to the evening! The bread was hot and made that crunch noise that great bread makes when you break it.
Amuses-bouche (3 of them):
Amuse-bouche 1 (right):
Carrot sorbet, ribbon of cucumber, and tarragon salt.
Victor: Incredibly refreshing. I guessed that the carrot sorbet was made using a Pacojet, and the server confirmed that.
Amuse-bouche 2 (left):
Mung bean, red onion, radish, coriander, and manju (I may have misheard) dressing.
Amuse-bouche 3 (middle):
Trevally (I think white trevally) with soy and sesame marinade and lemon and garlic “crumbs”.
From bottom to top:
Celeriac purée with pieces of celeriac and prawn, celery ice, Riesling gelée, mushroom, puffed barley, and mustard and basil seeds.
Victor: This was REALLY GOOD. The textural contrast was nice, and there were little bits of acidity that helped cut down on the richness. This reminded me a little of the taste of Indian curry at different points.
Salmon (cooked rare), covered with leek ash, with Jerusalem artichoke purée, toasted almonds, pickled ginger, and king mushroom pieces.
Victor: You had to eat the salmon with the purée. By itself, the salmon was cooked well, but the leek ash made the aftertaste seem dry–like something was missing. The purée and pickled ginger added some moisture and acidity, respectively, while the almonds added some texture.
Duo of lightly-battered, tempura-fried soft-shell crab from Queensland, Australia, and soy-marinated tuna. Served with sheets of daikon radish, red onion, seaweed crisps, coconut crumb, and tamarind dressing (underneath).
Victor: I’m not really sure what to think of what I just ate. It definitely tasted good. There was definitely textural variety (the coconut crumbs helped with that!), and the ingredients complemented the duo well. However, I’m not sure what to think of the tuna and crab going together. Hmm.
Seared John Dory, avocado purée, watercress emulsion, walnut foam, and shiitake mushrooms.
Victor: This might be the first time I’ve had avocado with seafood (excluding unagi). This was… interesting and rather complex. It was almost unnecessarily complex, with the purée, emulsion, and foam all together.
Duck breast and crusted confit of duck leg with smoked goat cheese curd, celery mix (celery juice, celery leeks, and celery shavings), lemon gel, sunflower seeds, and licorice pieces.
Victor: They gave me a sample of the matched wine, which was pretty nice of them! The wine helped bring out the flavors of the duck.
Venison rump with baby heirloom carrots cooked in salted butter, olive praline, pieces of cooked chorizo, gingerbread purée, and sumac.
Victor: This was the first of Chef Sahrawat’s classic dishes. It was a great representation of “sweet” and savory. The dish combined the two flavor profiles very well using the venison and chorizo (savory) with the carrots and gingerbread purée (sweet). No one ingredient overpowered any other, and they all shined at different times.
Lamb rump and lamb rack with smoke foam, parsnip chips, pickled onions, gouda custard, and black sauce (parsnip, squid ink, and black/fermented garlic).
Victor: The two pieces of lamb were perfectly cooked (as expected), but what stood out were the parsnip chips, pickled onions, and black sauce. So far, what’s stood out to me about this meal has been that the chef utilizes some excellent ingredients to pair with the main protein. The proteins themselves haven’t been amazing, but the dishes have been pretty great.
Roquefort (sheep’s milk blue cheese) ice cream (with hints of truffle and honey) with red wine gel, red wine syrup, pear, and cheesecake crumbs.
Victor: This was the second of Chef Sahrawat’s classic dishes. The blue cheese flavor had all the positives of the flavor of cheese without any of the pungency, and the honey and truffle added sweetness and… welcome truffle-ness (not really sure how to describe it otherwise hahaha). The addition of the red wine aspects made this dessert a play on cheese and wine; it was a welcome reminder of those relaxing times when one enjoys cheese and wine with one’s friends. The pear added some acidity to cut down on the richness, and the crumbs added some crunch!
Snap-frozen chocolate mousse (frozen using liquid nitrogen) with Mandarin orange sorbet, fresh and freeze-dried Mandarin oranges, brown sugar cake, vanilla custard, and caramelized pistachios.
There was so much texture here! The crisp mousse and pistachios countered the sorbet, oranges, cake, and custard well! You also can’t really go wrong with the flavors–chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, pistachios, and refreshment via the orange sorbet. Mmm. The only questionable ingredient is the orange pieces, but I suppose they did their job in terms of adding acidity without interfering with the overall flavor profiles of this dessert.
I actually like this dessert more than the Roquefort ice cream dessert, but I recognize that that dessert was more creative. Still… I like my chocolate and vanilla. And cake. And pistachios. Yummmmm!
Passion fruit sorbet with raspberry, hokey pokey (honeycomb), caramelized amaranth, smoked creme fraiche, and curry powder.
Victor: I don’t really have any thoughts on this dessert. I think that, at that point, I was tired and just wanted to go home and sleep haha :(.
1. As stated before, the proteins themselves weren’t amazing (in the way that, for instance, Kagoshima Wagyu is). However, what stuck out was that the chef managed to pair the proteins with interesting ingredients that worked wonderfully. Many of the protein dishes were fantastic and true joys to eat.
2. I’d probably get the wine pairings the next time I come back. Almost all of the dishes were incredibly complex, with many different ingredients–I don’t quite think my palate’s sophisticated enough yet to truly appreciate the courses. I think wine would definitely help me in that regard, though!
3. I think my thoughts were vindicated; the food was exciting, and the dishes were all at least decent (though I think some were a little too complex for me…). I’m happy I went!