Friday, September 11, 2009

Peter Speake-Marin and Sydney Tarts GTG

Location : Private Dining Room, Kingsleys Steak & Crabhouse
Woolloomooloo Wharf
Date : 7pm Friday September 4, 2009

After months of planning, and with an ever increasing expectant buzz, the Sydney Tarts, or at any rate 15 of them, were ready to rock for our horological event of the year - the welcoming of esteemed independent watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin to our Antipodean shores for the first time.

As has been blogged, Peter Speake-Marin, aptronym, Head Tart, onomatopia & A arrived at the restaurant via water taxi from Circular Quay. On arrival they bumped into two other Tarts and so it was onward ho to the restaurant.

The first blogpost noted that we started off with everyone with round 1 of drinks, mingling and chatting, catching up, and checking out new acquisitions from a couple of the Tarts. As onomatopia blogged, it was almost as difficult getting everyone to sit down as trying to calm a whole class of unmedicated hyperactive school kids, with expensive watches passed around like rental Corollas, and everyone getting their dirty mitts on the stunning Peter Speake-Marin creations.

It must be noted however, that it is a rare occasion indeed if at least two Tarts don't have cleaning cloths on them, so at least one of the group would clean each watch as it reached them.

This will be the second in a series of blogposts about this "whoosy" (as Head Tart Chris would say) GTG, this one covering the food that was eaten on the night (with the exception of the Rocket & Parmesan salad which for some reason seemed to have been universally photographically overlooked.

The Private Dining Room is situated upstairs and has seating capacity for up to 24 people at one large table.  Audio visual equipment including a data projector is available if necessary. The selection of a GTG location had actually not been an easy thing, as it is common for restaurants to have a minimum spending requirement for large gorup bookings, and some restaurants simply refused to take a group of our size at all!

Our requirements were : 1) water view (since it would be our guest's first visit to Sydney, it made sense to have the meal by the water); 2)  proximity to the CBD and easy accessibility whether it by by foot, on public transport, taxi or car; 3) privacy (a private room had not been necessarily a priority, but a secluded area yes, since there would be a certain level of noise and moving around).

After a number of rejections and the like, and correspondence with the ever helpful Fiona Rigon at Kinglseys, we committed this location.

Kingsleys do not have a minimum spending requirement or room hire charge, and this was, in the end, a major factor in deciding on this location. A set menu option is available should anyone request it, but we went with the flexibility of their "limited a la carte" menu.

The Piccadilly Roman Numerals

Each place was set with an individualised menu with the choices that the organiser had made from the a la carte menu.  Group function menus are structured so that a choice of 3 entrees (out of 6 alternatives), 3 mains (out of 10 options plus 1 vegetarian option available on the night) and 2 desserts (out of 3 options) are provided to each diner, but it is up to each person how many courses they wish to order.  Dishes are priced at the usual a la carte prices.

Oysters (natural, Kilpatrick or Chilli & Coriander) $19.90

Smoked Hiramasa Kingfish Salad $17.90
(salmon roe, apple, cucumber & dill horseradish dressing)

The kingfish salad was excellent! It was an explosion of complementing flavours. I could easily have had this as a main and still come away extremely satisfied. I don't usually go for this sort of entrees (the prawns would've been my usual style of entree) but I thought I'd try something different and I am very glad I did! -[Onomatopia]

Pan roasted Queensland Prawns $19.90
(organic garlic confit & la barre extra virgin olive oil)

For some unknown reason most people ordered the steak. Maybe there was a mass iron deficiency, maybe people just wanted some beef, maybe it was the sheer suggestibility of being at a steakhouse.

 Ready for action!

300g Aged Rump ($26.90)

From all reports the steak was universally cooked to everyone's requirements. It was a large tasty piece of meat that not everyone could finish.

I must admit, the steak looked a little disappointing when it was first placed in front of me. I'm used to having an assortment of sides on the same plate, as well as plenty of sauces, but all that disappointment quickly went away after the first bite. Mine was cooked to perfection in medium rare, with plenty of bite and just juicy and tender enough. I was amazed at how well the steak was marinated, as I could've easily eaten the whole thing without sauce, and for those who knows me as Mr Sauce, this is very surprising and a testament to the excellence of the steak. -[Onomatopia]

      Fish of the day
(neglected to ask those who ate it what it was)

I did have a taste of the fish, but I'm the last person anyone should ask what the fish was. All I know is that although it was a little on the dry side, the combination with the sauce was very well done. If it was a little juicier, it would've been perfect! -[Onomatopia]

Twice cooked Byron Bay Berkshire Pork Belly $25.90
(English spinach, spiced apple sauce & braising juices)

The pork belly was reported as although not ranking in the "best ever" stakes, still "tasty and succulent" and coming from a "happy pig".

For group bookings there is basically a mandatory selection of sides by the restaurant, in this case the "steakhouse chips" and the Rocket & Parmesan salad.  The one disappointing aspect of the sides were that given the size of our group (17), and that we paid $9pp for sides, they could have been a bit more generous with the servings. It was necessary to ration one's sides servings to ensure that everyone got some. More so for the chips than the salad but nontheless......

Clearly this is not the Rocket & Parmesan Salad.

Though we were all originally rather taken with the idea of finding a place where there were Tarte au Citron for dessert, since we are named after lemon tarts, we had to make do with the following :

Pear and Frangiapane Tart w Golden Syrup Ice Cream ($13.90)

Belgian Chocolate Pudding w Creme Anglais & Ice Cream ($13.90)

    I thought I'd get the tart since it is a Sydney Tarts event, but really, it just didn't gel. Not at all. I had a couple of spoonfuls of the chocolate pudding and it was so creamy and rich that I would've been satisfied it that was my last ever dessert. - [Onomatopia]

    Reports indicate that the chocolate pudding outranked the tart. Even lapped it.



    Johnson said...

    fantastic post and love the photography

    The Sydney Tarts said...

    We all missed your presence. Such a shame that you couldn't make it but there's a Speake-Marin booklet waiting for you back in Sydney:)