Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday Roast at Burlington Bar and Dining - SIFF

Burlington Bar & Dining
6 Burlington St
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Ph : (02) 9439 7888

No it's not the child of some celebrity with a pointy nose, in case you were wondering. Sunday lunch is part of the SMH Sydney International Food Festival in the month of October. It is a new addition to what used to be known as the SMH Good Food Month. Different restaurants around Sydney participated and all involves the hero of good old fashioned Sunday lunch - the roast. The concept is simple, the perfect roast with all its trimmings. The emphasis is on family and sharing. As I have been blessed with a new addition to our small family recently, it is the perfect opportunity for our first family outing.  Bundle of Joy (BoJ) arrived only 6 weeks ago and we have been stuck at home trying to fit in with his routine. It is time to show him one of daddy’s passion - good food!

Burlington Bar and Dining was our chosen venue to relive the good old fashioned Sunday roast. Burlington is the casual version of its big brother south of the bridge Restaurant Balzac. Overseen by Matthew Kemp and team, this casual eatery has received very good reviews and even received a Chef’s Hat in 2008. 

Taking BoJ out requires preparation to rival the landing on the Moon. A transporter, backpack larger than a rocket propellent, more toys than ToysRUs and enough blankets to cover a football field. For the family’s first outing, the weather certainly tried to spoil things. The heaviest downpour in Sydney for the past 8 months in 1 hour tried to flush us away.

Negotiating the transporter up the steps into the restaurant in pouring rain is not mean feat and to their credit, the staff were extremely helpful in getting us in the door. Given the size of the transporter, the staff were very considerate to give us a table by the corner. Water was offered immediately and menu provided. The menu is simple. To continue the theme of family event, entree and desserts are meant to be shared and then a choice of mains are offered. The choice of mains includes roast leg of suckling pig, shoulder of Saltbush lamb “Sept Heures”, line caught braised snapper and cockles or whole roast fore rib of Charolais Beef.

We sip our Gosset Brut Excellence NV while we debated over the advantages of the different proteins. The Gosset was lovely with a nice toasty fine beads. Looking around the restaurant, I didn’t see many fish been served. After much deliberation, the waitress convinced me that the little piggy lived a good life and I can have steak any other day. Being a sheep farmer’s daughter, my wife chose the lamb. 

The bread basket included a single slice of sourdough and linseed served with butter. It’s good to see butter making a comeback as I can not stand the olive oil and balsamic combination.

We both preferred the sourdough over the seed.

The shared entree included Tuna Nicoise salad, fried prawns with aioli and foie gras and chicken liver parfait. The nicoise salad was  a nice pile of salad leaves, radish, olives, cherry tomato, beans, soft boiled egg and what appear to be tinned tuna. I am not a fan of tinned tuna but this one wasn’t that bad at all. It was deftly dressed and very refreshing. A very classic dish.

Fried prawns were simple but absolutely delicious. The garlicky aioli had a spike of paprika which complimented the fresh prawns. The only downside was that there wasn’t more of it. I want more!

The parfait was textbook perfect. Velvety rich and smooth. It was accompanied by lavosh and the same excellent sourdough we had earlier, but grilled. The sourdough had spent a little too much time on the grill but the richness of the parfait more than compensated for any shortcomings. A small pile of tomato relish provided contrast and quite an earthy note to the dish.

Searching for the right wine to accompany the roast, we diverted our attention from BoJ to the wine list.

It is a not a very long wine list but studded with international gems. Someone has done some homework scouting wines from around the globe, including Argentina, Spain, France and of course Australia.

The best feature about the wine list is that 90% of the wines can be bought, not just as bottle or glass, but in 250ml and 375ml carafes. I love the shape of the carafes. This allows you to try different types of wine without committing to buying a bottle. I wish more restaurants would do this.

We ordered a half bottle of 2004 Chateau Sainte Barbe from Bordeaux. It is a little known estate situated on the peninsular of Ambes 20km from Bordeaux. It was first built in 1760s and enjoyed many glory years making wines to rival the best of Bordeaux, especially in the 18th and 19th century. However, since then, it has been neglected for many years until it was bought by Antoine and Lucy Touton in 1999. It is 70% merlot with cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc making up the rest. It is rich in red fruit, vanilla and it is starting to show signs of secondary characters such as leather and cedar box. It is very good value for its price.

It is hard to make a pile of meat look pretty on the plate but both the lamb and pork looked delicious. To be honest, I can not resist a good roast. When done right, something magical happens to a nice piece of protein when its been roasted that transforms it from simple to sublime.

When you roast a whole piece of meat however, there will always bits that are better than others. I love the moist tender meat around the bone or around some juicy fat, usually just under the skin. The big meaty bit can dry out quite easily and this is what happened to my suckling pig. Those meaty bits with a little bit of fat were beautifully tender and moist and full of flavour. Most of it however, was simply too dry for me. The meat was crying out for a gravy of some form. It was only after they took the plate away that I looked over to see the other tables being offered apple sauce and gravy with their suckling pig!!

The crackling on top however, was one of the best I’ve had. It was crispy and light, almost like eating potato chips. My wife’s shoulder of lamb was a little better than mine. The lamb was more fatty and hence avoided the dryness. It sure tasted like spring lamb should be.

The mains were accompanied by steamed broccoli with roast almonds, roasted potatoes and green salad. The broccoli was very lightly cooked and maintained a good bite. The roast almonds provided contrast and interest. The potato was fantastically rich and creamy. I can’t think of a better way to eat potatoes. Maybe dead heat with thick hand-cut chips cooked in duck fat. The green salad was deftly dressed but fairly routine.

Desserts returned to the theme of sharing with a trio of desserts. Bitter chocolate hot pudding with Jaffa ice cream came in a earthy shallow pot. I love a good pudding and this one strikes all the right notes. Sweet with dark chocolate, but not too sweet. Slightly crunchy and caramalised on the outside, but gooey soft in the middle. Jaffa ice cream is distinctively recognisable and goes well with the rich pudding.

Camarosa strawberries and cream is the classic British dessert. Camarosa is a variety of strawberries from California introduced in Australia in the 90s. Compared to other varieties, it produces a larger fruit with few deformities and consistently good flavour throughout the season. Other varieties tend to change flavours from beginning to end of the season but the Camarosa is consistent all season long. In short, a good looking strawberry that tastes as good as it looks all year round.

Again the chefs have done well to keep the sweetness of this lovely dessert down so its not too overwhelming. The cream is light without losing any of its loving creaminess. The toffee on top is no more than a decoration for me as I am not a fan of toffee in general.

I am not a fan of affogato as a dessert either. For me, affogato is just coffee with a scoop of ice cream. It is NOT a dessert! The espresso is well made and the ice cream has a good vanilla flavour, but it is nothing to write home about. The pudding was certainly our favourite and we demolished it in an instant.

Almost forgot, the watch to accompany this delicious meal was an IWC Portuguese automatic with 7 day power reserve in stainless steel. The legend of the Portuguese started in 1936 when two Portuguese traders, Rodrigues and Teixeira, arrived in Schaffhausen to order a wristwatch that would incorporate the qualities of an on-board chronometer. The International Watch Company obliged and a legend was born.

The current version is based on caliber 50010, the largest automatic movement in the world. The transparent sapphire caseback allows perfect view of this beautiful automatic movement.

The Pellaton winding system actually provides enough energy to run the movement for 8 days but the gearing stops at 7 days, avoiding the risk of diminished precision due to reduced spring tension. The white dial is contrasted by blued hands and numbers. It also comes in a black dial but I fell in love with the blued hands contrasting the while dial. It’s 42mm case gives it a nice presence but yet so elegant. The black alligator bracelet completes the package. Like the perfect Sunday roast lunch with the family. Timeless.

Note:  While taking the photo of the watch, the adjoined table was asking “Why?”  Some people just don’t get it!

For another review of the Burlington, see this post.



JH said...

Great post DY. Enjoy your photography and yes, I SHOULD try it. Been wanting to for awhile now... now how about a JLC to accompany you with your next adventure? :)

The Sydney Tarts said...

I think I want the parfait and the desserts!