Wednesday, 25 October 2006

let's do lunch at forty one

Forty One Restaurant
The Chifley Tower, 2 Chifley Square
Sydney, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9221 2500

It’s still Good Food Month and I managed to squeeze in another Let’s Do Lunch, this time at Forty One Restaurant.

When I first started taking an interest in the Sydney restaurant scene, Forty One Restaurant was considered a hot spot. Since then public opinion has wilted for Swiss-born chef and owner Dietmar Sawyere’s cuisine.

Nonetheless, a restaurant perched on the 41st floor with commanding views across the Harbour is not to be dismissed lightly and this chef’s exciting vegetarian degustation menu has always drawn my attention.

I decided I had to make my own mind up about Forty One Restaurant and so I enlisted Tim and headed there for the Let's Do Lunch special.

Getting to the restaurant was a lot trickier than I anticipated. Even though some lifts went to the 41st floor, they didn’t give access to the restaurant and a small paper sign explained that the restaurant was actually on the 42nd floor and was only accessible from two elevators back in the lobby. After seemingly stopping at each floor between 41 and 28, I made it to the lobby and to the correct elevators. I also collected an equally confused Tim along the way.

When the doors opened we were greeted with glorious natural light and greenery and were promptly seated in a secluded spot with fantastic views over the Harbour and even to the Opera House. The room was bathed in natural light without any glare and the stress and frustrations of my day started to wash away.

Service was prompt, professional, knowledgably and very friendly. Certainly miles ahead of my other Let’s Do Lunch service experience at Yoshii. I was very pleased with the way we were treated even though we were just there for their lunch special.

For $35 we received a glass of the sponsor’s wine or beer (Brown Brother’s or James Squire) and the set main course. Tim and I opted to pay an extra $10 to enjoy dessert and coffee as well.

The Tasmanian ocean trout was described as “slow-cooked” and it was a healthy pink-orange hue and almost raw. The flavour was delicious and the meat flaked away easily without even using a knife. A light butter, lemon and chive sauce had been spooned over the fish added an excellent sour twang.

On the side was Israeli couscous. Unlike North African couscous, the Israeli kind are larger and more like tiny pasta. They are delicious cooked like risotto and flavoured with whatever spices, sauces or salsas you fancy.

In this case, they had been cooked like risotto and flavoured gently with zucchini, diced fresh tomato, chilli and grated bottarga (Sydney’s latest “it” ingredient). The combination was a soft yet toothsome accompaniment to the rare ocean trout. I was very pleased.

I enjoyed this with a glass of the sponsored Brown Brother’s 2004 Pinot Grigio (Milawa, Victoria) and Tim had the James Squire Porter.

Next arrived the dessert. A dark chocolate pannacotta had been sprinkled with crunchy praline pieces and served with tongues of biscotti and a strawberry and passionfruit salsa. Of course Tim enjoyed his sans fruit due to his fruitophobia.

The pannacotta was deliciously chocolate, and had a wonderful rich flavour and smooth texture. It was a little thick for my liking however, because I prefer my pannacotta to melt more readily in the heat of my mouth, but I wouldn’t dare fault this for fear of giving Sawyere’s critics something to hold onto.

My experience at Forty One Restaurant was highly enjoyable: the food was perfect, the service was excellent and the view was nothing short of spectacular.

Yes, I would visit again and that’s what makes Good Food Month events so successful.


Be sure to visit Rebecca’s round-up at Cucina Rebecca to see what other Good Food Month events the Sydney food bloggers are indulging in.


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