Dylan and I first dined at est. for our 4th anniversary back in September 2009 (when we decided we would forget about presents and instead celebrate with “4 for 4″ – four dinners for four years. We started at our favourite cheap Thai, followed by a 1 chef hat restaurant (Sailor’s Thai), a 2 chef hat restaurant (Aria) and finally a 3 chef hat restaurant (est.). Our anniversary at est. quickly became one of our favourite meals and we knew we would have to get back soon. Though with so many restaurants to go to we hadn’t made it back there since, so when March Into Merivale 2011 was announced we knew we had to jump at the opportunity.
March Into Merivale Menu – $33 for 1 course, $50 for 2 courses, $65 for 3 courses
The March into Merivale offer at est. is slightly different to the other Merivale restaurants (which all offer 1 course for $33 with a glass of wine or beer). est. offers diners 1 course for $33, 2 courses for $50, or 3 courses for $65 and of course a glass of bubbles, wine or beer – definitely one of the most affordable ways to dine at a 3 chef hat restaurant.
As we were shown to our table and I couldn’t help but smile when I recognised our waiter for the evening as the same waiter from our first visit. He looked after us brilliantly back then and I knew he would look after us now. One of the things I love about est. is the wait staff; they perform a dance that is truly mesmerising, with the number of waiters matching the number of diners at each table so that all plates are placed on the table at the same time. Synchronised plating, something I had never seen before and haven’t seen since. There is nothing worse than a delay to some of the table receiving their food but this is never a problem at est. and I like it.
I also love the champagne trolley. It’s a fairly old school concept but I love it all the same, champagne on ice, wheeled around to each table with lots of goodies on offer. We each had a glass of Chandon to start as our glass of bubbles included with the meal. Although at the cheaper end of the scale, I quite like Chandon and with a glass in hand the night had begun.
Fresh Italian buffalo mozzarella, black fig, fresh pistachios, cresses.
I have recently discovered figs and admit I am obsessed. I can’t recall ever disliking figs, but I also can’t recall ever really eating figs either and I suppose it is one of those things I didn’t grow up with and therefore didn’t really ever think about. With my terrible memory I couldn’t tell you when I decided that I liked figs, but somewhere over the last 12 months my opinion of them has become favourable. I also love scallops so I was struggling to make a decision between the two entrées. Lucky for me Dylan was happy to share – woop woop the best of both worlds. The mozzarella was out of this world, extremely fresh and creamy. The sweetness of the figs and milky, creaminess of the cheese were a beautiful combination.
Grilled white scallops, green peas, sorrel, quinoa – lemon vinaigrette.
Ahhh scallops, Dylan’s favourite seafood. Memories came flooding back of our first experience at est. when Dylan had the best scallops he’s ever eaten. We were both giddy with excitement waiting to dig in. So how did they stack up? The scallops were lightly seared, not overcooked as they so often are, they really were cooked beautifully. I enjoyed the lightness of the peas and tang of the lemon vinaigrette, while the quinoa brought a nice textural contrast to the dish. I don’t think they beat the scallops of 2009 but they definitely came close.
Crisp skin breast of corn fed chicken, lentils, spinach, pine mushroom, pan juices.
WOW. This was possibly the best chicken I have ever eaten, it was so succulent and so magically amazing, proving that chicken is not just chicken! Lentils are not everyone’s cup of tea and while I like them I thought there were a little too many and I would have preferred a little more spinach. My verdict is still out on pine mushrooms in general – I find the robust nature of the mushroom a little overwhelming and am not sure if I am warming to them just yet, though they seem to be popping up on menus all over Sydney so I guess time will tell.
Soy glazed beef fillet, sesame, grated apple and radish.
Dylan and I were sharing mains, so I was fortunate to also try the beef. The flavours were gorgeous and the meat itself was a really nice piece of beef. I prefer my meat cooked medium-rare but I saw Dylan’s eyes light up when he took his first bite. Reflecting on the meal he has said it was probably the best cooked piece of beef he’s ever eaten, cooked so perfectly (rare). The soy glaze brought a little sweetness to the dish and the horseradish was perfectly suited. We both loved the Japanese feel of this dish. And I love that it included my favourite vegetable of all time – cucumber. The beef won Dylan and Em over but I was still in awe of the chicken. We were very happy customers.
Toasted almond milk mousse, fresh black figs, Tasmanian black currant sorbet.
I am still in disbelief that neither Dylan nor Mr O. were tempted by dessert. The two desserts on the menu are admittedly not desserts the four of us would normally order but we were at est. so I knew no matter what was on the menu it would be good. Em and I decided to share the two desserts so we could try both. The mousse is not a dessert I would normally order as I am a chocolate fiend but I really enjoyed the toasted almond flavour coming through in each taste, it was surprisingly good, the sorbet refreshing and punchy, and a second helping of figs in one evening didn’t bother me in the slightest.
Vanilla bavarois, strawberry crumble and spiced syrup.
Another dessert I wouldn’t usually choose, the bavarois was nice but not really memorable. Sharing between two meant I didn’t get as much of the strawberry crumble as I would have liked but I was loving the rhubarb and would say it was my favourite part of this dessert. The two desserts were a nice change from the decadent chocolate desserts I usually order, and neither was too sweet.
As the boys had decided to skip dessert they ordered coffee and petits fours. 6 little pieces of art on a cute little plate, I was drawn to them like a moth to a flame. And it must have been my lucky day as the waiter placed one plate in front of the boys and the second in front of Em and I. Muahaha we got dessert and petit fours!
The est. chocolate was nice; the friand fluffy – considering its size I was rather surprised; cocoa dusted walnut not bad but I just don’t think I will ever be a huge fan of cocoa dusting; jelly soft and sweet (Em’s fav); chocolate square delectable; but the real winner for me was the salted caramel tart – it was absolutely divine.
My favourite moment of the evening was after the desserts and plate of petits fours had been cleared from the table and Dylan was making his way back from the bathroom, the expression on his face was priceless when he discovered a third plate of petits fours on the table… in front of Em and I. It was hilarious, the waiter said the boys hadn’t been sharing with us so he thought we should have a plate all to ourselves. Hehe they were soooo good… and yes we did share with the boys.
est. won me over yet again and now I am trying to work out when I can get back there for the degustation menu. Em really enjoyed it but Mr O. wasn’t as taken by the restaurant and put it down to only having a sample of the food – of dishes he wouldn’t necessarily have ordered à la carte.
I’ve thrown around the word ‘best’ quite a lot in this post, with the scallops of 2009 being the best Dylan has ever eaten, the chicken possibly the best I have ever eaten and the beef the best cooked Dylan has ever eaten. est. is not one of the most talked about restaurants in my social circles but I think that might have to change; the food is amazing and the service impeccable, if you haven’t yet been I highly recommend it – be it on the affordable March Into Merivale menu or the indulgent degustation menu.
Level 1, 252 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000