Valentine’s Day is an odd concept when you think about it. Originally a celebration of a Saint (or two) named Valentine; somewhere along the line it evolved into a day of romance. I believe it was removed from the Christian calendar many years ago, but has been adopted by western (ironically rather secular) society. I am always surprised by how many men I see buying flowers and how important the day still seems to be for florists and restaurants alike. Dylan and I will usually buy a card for each other but that’s about it. This year however it did prompt us to have a date night… the day after Valentine’s Day (an excuse to go out to dinner perhaps?!) and that’s how we ended up booking dinner for two at Hilton Sydney’s glass brasserie restaurant.
Our table for the evening overlooked George Street and the Queen Victoria Building. As we were dining straight after work it was still light outside and was quite strange people watching as office workers finished up for the day and began the commute home. But as the sun went down and the masses disappeared our view turned into a rather lovely sight of Sydney all lit up.
Within a few moments I had already spotted restaurateur Luke Mangan across the other side of the room, and speculated over who the important people were at the table he was talking to. Dylan just laughed at me as I was yet again chef-struck.
I’d say just about every food blogger in the world has commented on the amazingness that is bread and butter. Because it is true. We were brought a selection of white and fruit breads. I started with a piece of the white which was soft, lightly sweet with a deliciously crunchy crust and a nice change from the more commonly seen around town sourdough. Luke Mangan’s olive oil was quite a strong, Italian style olive oil which I mopped up readily. And of course I just had to try the fruit bread too; although I was worried it would be too sweet with the sultanas, the hit of salt and rosemary won me over and it turned out to be my favourite.
NV Bortolomiol Prosecco, Valdobbiadene, DOCG Veneto, Italy ($17.00).
Starting with a glass of bubbles the prosecco caught me unawares as it was quite a strong flavourful prosecco, full of stone fruit flavours. After the initial shock I realised it was actually quite light and would be a good match with both our fish entrées.
Hiramasa kingfish sashimi, ginger, eschallot, Persian feta ($30.00).
The entrée had me at ‘Hiramasa’. Oh how I love kingfish. One of glass’ signature dishes, I simply didn’t even contemplate anything else. Served on a super long, skinny plate that looked pretty but wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to eat from – I had to move it around a bit to ensure I didn’t spill any of the dressing on the table! Delicate and light, the kingfish was extremely fresh and just melted in the mouth. Little blobs of Persian feta were extremely creamy and just the right size not to take over the hero of the dish. The finely diced ginger was lightly pickled (but not sour or mouth puckering) with a sweet finish. Quite simply the dish was stunning; beautiful produce and an inspiring combination. It is easy to see why it’s so popular.
Aaannnddd Luke Mangan came over to our table to say hello… and I made a fool of myself. I shook his hand. Massive lols, I am a goober!
Tuna tartare with citrus, radish, salmon roe, miso mayonnaise ($30.00).
Dylan had his eye on the kingfish but couldn’t bring himself to order the same as me. I tried to convince him to have the gnocchi (another of glass’ signature dishes) but he wasn’t in the mood, he felt like something light. As soon as the waiter mentioned the tuna tartare special I knew that would be Dylan’s choice. I only had a bite of the dish and while the tuna was lovely I thought the other flavours took over a little, though Dylan thought the balance through the dish was right. He found the blood orange seemed to be more prevalent at the top and did begin to take over, but deeper down there was a better flavour mix with a good amount of miso mayonnaise and the salty pop of the roe working nicely with the peppery radish and succulent tuna.
Blue-eye trevalla with herb crust, Moreton Bay bug, zucchini & confit tomato ($45.00).
It is quite funny how your tastes change as you get older. I used to really dislike cod and for the longest time would never even consider ordering it. But now I love it along with just about every other fish and will usually order a fish dish when I’m trying to be healthy – or just keeping the balance knowing dessert is yet to come! And a perfectly cooked piece of fish it was. I thought the herb crust would be crispier than it was but the flavours were all there. And the bug, the Moreton Bay bug, oh my! So sweet and tasty. And I might be going crazy but I’m pretty sure the julienned zucchini was cooked in saffron and chilli which combined with the tomatoes brought a nice savoury note to the dish.
2009 Schloss Lieser Kabinett, Riesling, Mosel, Germany ($15.00).
Riesling has been appearing on my drinking list a little more frequently of late and I chose the ‘lightly sweet’ Schloss Lieser to accompany my fish. Sweeter than anticipated and quite fruity, it wasn’t a bad drop though I probably would have preferred a dry white.
Rangers Valley NSW Wagyu scotch marble score 5+ 300g with asparagus, zucchini, tomato, parmesan and truffle jus ($68.00).
Dylan’s main was always going to be beef; the only question was which? He ended up settling on the Rangers Valley wagyu. We could smell the truffle before it reached the table and from the get go knew it would be a task to finish. There were big hitting flavours everywhere, with shavings of parmesan melting into the jus and intensifying the truffle richness. Having wanted to order the beef rare (knowing it was wagyu, the cut and the weight) Dylan was advised to order medium rare due to the marbling. Dylan felt it was slightly overcooked as it was a thin piece of meat but this did not spoil the steak which was charred nicely, soft and well-marbled making it so easy to eat. The beautifully roasted parsnips were utterly amazing (in fact Dylan thinks the best parsnips ever) and a nice diversion from the richness of the rest of the dish. Luke Mangan came back past our table while we were eating mains and mentioned he can’t finish this dish, he finds it too much, and I can see where he’s coming from as the steak was too rich for me. In the end even Dylan was defeated.
2009 Craggy Range Te Kahu Merlot Cabernet, Hawke’s Bay, NZ ($15.00).
Dylan chose a bit hitting wine to go with the intense flavours of wagyu, truffle and parmesan. I’m yet to be disappointed with a Craggy Range and I found the merlot cabernet quite intense, rich in berries, with medium tannin structure and perfect for Dylan’s red meat dish. While suitable, Dylan thought the spice of a shiraz may have been even better, ahh well, next time.
Market green vegetables with almonds ($13.00).
Light and fresh greens are always a nice break from rich main courses. Portion size wise we didn’t really need any sides, but I loved the creamy, toasted almonds scattered through this.
Toffee soufflé with pecan butter ice-cream $21.00.
We decided to think of our waistlines and share a dessert, but luckily we were both keen for the soufflé. Sometimes it’s a good thing to order the dessert that takes 20 minutes to prepare (or I suppose just ask for a break) because the short wait between mains and dessert was a welcome break and gave my tummy some breathing room. We were not disappointed, with the soufflé having a great height and served in the ever stunning mini copper pot (I really want to get a set of these for home, they’re so damn gorgeous). The toffee soufflé itself was light and fluffy with a great toffee flavour and not eggy in anyway. The pecan butter was creamy and nutty, not overly sweet and a nicely made ice cream with no unsightly crystallisation. This was one of the best soufflés I’ve ever had and I half wish we had each got our own, but I’m sure my butt is happy Dylan and I decided to share.
2006 Brown Brothers, Patricia, Late Harvest, Noble Riesling, King Valley ($14.00).
We quite like a sticky and are both fond of the Patricia Noble Riesling. With that warming honey sweetness and rich apricot flavour one glass never seems to be enough!
Macchiatos ($5.00 each).
We finished our meal with a nice macchiato, though I wasn’t a fan of the odd macchiato cups. The handles were awkwardly shaped and I was worried I’d drop it as it was difficult to grip. Luckily I managed to polish off my macc without dropping it but I still prefer little handled ceramic cups.
We were really impressed with the efficient and friendly service. I didn’t catch our waiter’s name but all I can sing are his praises – welcoming, friendly and informed. The time between courses was spot on and the wait staff just seemed to read the floor well – not overbearing or too distant. I was also pleased to see Luke Mangan walking the floor and mingling with customers ensuring everyone was happy. Smaller restaurants don’t necessarily have the luxury of having someone of this stature on the floor, but with the likes of Joe Pavlovich heading up the kitchen I’m sure Luke knows everything is under control while he’s front of house.
I was unsure about glass being a hotel restaurant and all but once again I have been proven wrong. Hotel chains and celebrity chefs aside the food really spoke for itself. We really enjoyed our date night at glass brasserie and will definitely be heading back.
Level 2, 488 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9266 2000
glass brasserie Website