I had never been to a blogger dinner before, or a blogger picnic, or a blogger meet-up of any description. I’m kinda shy and tend to get embarrassed by the ‘blogger’ title. Yes I like to take photos of my food. And write about it. But I’m a useless cook, an amateur writer and a terrible photographer. Meeting up with a heap of bloggers kind of freaked me out.
Dylan and I did attend a twEATup at Danks Street Depot not too long ago, which all things considered should have been far scarier considering we were surrounded by journalists, chefs, cooks and other food industry folk. But we went and met some lovely people and enjoyed chatting all things food with others who love food. And that’s when I realised that, sure, there are blogger haters out there. There are also journo haters. There are just haters in general. But when you get a bunch of people in a room with one thing in common, you realise that’s all that matters.
So when Mel (MissPiggyEats / The Adventures of Miss Piggy) invited Dylan and I to a blogger dinner at Restaurant Atelier, I thought it was about time I came out of my shell. The event started off with Mel booking the private dining room for 10 people. But it quickly escalated into a full take over. #FancyFrenchDinnerParty turned out to be 38 of us, completely filling the restaurant.
Darren Templeman, head chef and owner of Restaurant Atelier, must have been crazy to open his restaurant to a bunch of bloggers! But he wasn’t going to be outdone by Mel’s ability to fill the restaurant. Darren pulled out all stops, took what was supposed to be a 3 course meal and turned it into a feast. Of epic proportions.
#FancyFrenchDinnerParty Degustation – $80.00 per person
- Sourdough bread with tapenade, EVOO & balsamic and Pepe Saya butter
- Amuse bouche of yellow fin tuna, coral tenax, red capsicum jelly
- WA marron tempura, crisp pork belly with a fermented soy bean miso
- Master Kobe wagyu tartare, crisp quail egg, pea and broad bean salad
- Poached fillet of John Dory with celeriac, potato and wilted mâché, sauce Béarnaise
- Szechaun and caramel glazed breast of Thirlmere duck breast, crisp confit leg, sweet & sour baby turnips and radishes, Szechuan vinegar sauce
- Vanilla custard, coconut crunch, Sheep’s milk yoghurt ice cream
- Caramelised pistachio and cocoa nib soufflé with sweet miso milkshake and vanilla bean ice cream
Sourdough bread with tapenade, EVOO & balsamic and Pepe Saya butter.
As we all took our seats and made introductions some bowls of sourdough made their way to the table to join the trio of deliciousness – tapenade, olive oil and butter. Humorous as it may be, everyone at the table pulled out their cameras almost in synchronisation and started taking snaps of the food. Photos complete we all dug in. I’m a sucker for sourdough and loved the rich, salty tapenade and creamy magicalness that is Pepe Saya butter. Naturally none of this lasted very long.
Amuse bouche of yellow fin tuna, coral tenax, red capsicum jelly.
A colourful amuse bouche kicked off the degustation. A gorgeous piece of lightly seared yellow fun tuna draped across bright red capsicum jelly, and topped off with some rather unusual looking coral tenax – which Mel kindly informed me is a type of seaweed.
Textures and flavours were at play here with the bold, punchy flavours of the capsicum jelly, delicate fish and firm bite of the coral tenax. Our taste buds were ready and waiting for the next course.
WA marron tempura, crisp pork belly with a fermented soy bean miso.
I was rather curious about this dish, having seen a sneak preview tweeted by Darren earlier in the week. A golden plump piece of marron tempura, skewered together with a square of unctuous confit pork belly. Dollops of chilli mayo and yuzu gel surrounded the pintxos, which a condiment hater like me thought was ingenious plating! We all could have demolished a whole board of these with a nice cold beer. Utterly moreish.
Warming miso was dotted with shallots, enoki mushrooms and herbs. I adore miso and found it balanced the course nicely with the rich pork belly. We were definitely off to a good start.
Master Kobe wagyu tartare, crisp quail egg, pea and broad bean salad.
Wagyu tartare – at first I wasn’t sure if it would work. The marbling of the meat had me a little concerned, but boy was I wrong. Apart from the vegetarian at our table, the rest of us were all in awe as this dish arrived at the table, with the crisp quail egg perched on top of the bed of peas, broad beans, edible flowers and wagyu.
The tartare was one of the lighter versions I have ever had, add the richness of the oozy quail egg and you’ll have a table full of silence. Can’t talk, eating. The addition of the pea and broad bean salad was light, fresh, and another texture on the plate. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night.
Poached fillet of John Dory with celeriac, potato and wilted mâché, sauce Béarnaise.
John Dory is a stunning fish. Poaching the fillet resulted in the most tender, buttery fish I have had in a long time. So so soft. All eyes were on me at our table when I explained I don’t like condiments. Everyone wanted to know my thoughts on the Béarnaise. Truth? It was nice and creamy. Though let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, I’m still a condiment hater! Little cubes of potato, creamy celeriac and greenery of wilted mâché and baby sorrel rounded this one off. Delicious.
Szechaun and caramel glazed breast of Thirlmere duck breast, crisp confit leg, sweet & sour baby turnips and radishes, Szechuan vinegar sauce.
Conversation barely stopped throughout the whole night (except those ‘can’t talk, eating’ moments) and the evening seemed to fly by. While my tummy was filling up, time seemed to just disappear and before I knew it we were on to the last of the savouries.
I went straight for the hero of the dish and got stuck right into the juicy pink slices of duck breast. It’s dishes like this that have made duck rise up the ladder of my favourite foods. Succulent and tender, the duck was lifted by the szechuan and caramel glaze which in itself was amazing. We were also treated to gorgeous confit duck leg that was so delicate in texture yet so big on flavour. And let’s not forget the baby king brown mushrooms – which were simply awesome.
Possibly my favourite dish of the night, though I am still struggling to choose a favourite. I’m not sure I can choose between the wagyu tartare or the duck. Though the fish was stunning. And the soufflé! Ahh ok don’t make me choose.
Vanilla custard, coconut crunch, Sheep’s milk yoghurt ice cream.
POP ROCKS! I love pop rocks. Some of the other guests were talking about the last time they’d had pop rocks, back in the 80s or 90s. I on the other hand had to admit to having scoffed a packet at work only a week prior. Haha true story! Creamy sweet custard, crunchy topping, refreshing tart sheep’s milk yoghurt. I loved the balance of the first sweet dish.
Caramelised pistachio and cocoa nib soufflé with sweet miso milkshake and vanilla bean ice cream.
Our table was nearest the kitchen and therefore the last to be served. So we had to be patient and wait for every other soufflé to make its way to every other table before ours… torture! But good things come to those who wait.
We were instructed to scoop a hole out of our soufflé, add in some of the shake, add a scoop of ice cream and then demolish the lot. I loved the light as air soufflé with the crunchy cocoa nibs and sweet, caramelised pistachios. Had I not been so full I would have easily smashed seconds.
And then our #FancyFrenchDinnerParty came to an end. While I only really got to chat to the people at my table, I’ll just have to get myself along to another event to meet even more.
A brilliant meal and a wonderful experience with like-minded people. Thanks so much to Darren, Berni and all the crew at Restaurant Atelier. Massive props to Miss Piggy for organising the whole shindig. And of course it was lovely to meet some other bloggers – cheers for a great night everyone, especially our table – Food Porn Nation, A True Love Of Mine, 84th and 3rd and RJ.
Needless to say, Twitter has been abuzz with talk of when everyone will be booking back in for more!
22 Glebe Point Road
Glebe NSW 2037
(02) 9566 2112
Restaurant Atelier Website