Friday, February 12, 2010

Fine Dining with your Valentine

Well Valentine's Day 2010 is almost upon us, and love is most definitely in the air…

We have been bringing you all the latest Valentine's Day tips and ideas across all The Bride's Diary Blogs today, and in keeping with our cupid theme, I thought I would share with you 4 top restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne so you can wine and dine your Valentine in style.

Kobe Jones Melbourne - Profile by De Groots Media

If you're after a more modern take with innovative dishes and unique tastes then look no further than Kobe Jones. In a prime Docklands position with waterfront views of Bolte Bridge and the Melbourne city skyline this is where eastern spices and the Californian flavours of the west collide.

The extensive menu offers fresh and light options including a selection of Kobe Jones signature dishes which are an absolute must. Start with the number one special (crab salad with avocado wrapped in snapper and baked with KJ's cream sauce), or the oyster shooter (a trio of oyster shooters each with their own distinct flavour). Kobe rolls, like the crunchy roll of tempura-battered prawns with crab salad and cucumber layered with tempura flakes and smelt roe, are also offered. Follow with a main of whole-grilled baby snapper with miso citrus sauce served with miso soup and rice, or the green tea salmon (seared smoked salmon marinated in green tea with nori cream). Finish with the kanpai trifle (sake infused trifle with marinated cherries in jelly). The wine list comprises a tempting selection of Australian varieties and sake imports.

LOCATION Docklands

Chophouse Sydney - Profile by De Groots Media

Sitting deep inside a faux ribcage with a view of dangling cow skulls is a little unsettling. Add glazed beef short ribs to the plate and Merlot to the glass, and you have yourself an evening at Kingsley Smith’s new venture, Chophouse. Hemmed in by the blinking high-rises of the city, this authentic steakhouse is a meat-lover’s delight; man-sized portions of t-bone, lamb chops and beef brisket are sure to get bellies rumbling. A mirror alcove gives an element of space; brown banquettes and booths are set against rustic walls – a sly wink to the abattoir in an interpretation of a New York-style steakhouse. A recent addition to the Sydney dining scene, Chophouse is Kingsley Smith’s fourth restaurant and an ideal function venue, with an upstairs private dining room complete with cow hide patterned walls and private bar.

Executive chef David Clarke dishes up hearty portions of lip-smacking meals, plus an assortment of sides and sauces to create your ideal meal. Nibble on the deliciously crunchy spheres of tallegio risotto balls with Australian morels for a promising start to the meal. For mains carve into the grain-fed and hormone-free twice-cooked pork rack and crackling, paired with apple sauce, for a hearty belly-filler. Spatchcock and rabbit also feature on the red meat-focused menu, as do a range of chopped salads for those after lighter fare. The impressive array of 120 wines available by the glass or bottle have been hand-picked to match the flavours of the menu, hailing from France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. Chophouse is open from 12pm Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner.

LOCATION Sydney CBD behind Sofitel Wentworth Hotel, close to Hunter Street.

Radii Restaurant and Bar Melbourne - Profile by De Groots Media

Radii is now nine years old, and its bold multi-level design still looks modern. There are so many surfaces, levels and materials used in the design that the restaurant is not far behind a glamorous architectural showroom. The great advantages are significant in the streaming natural light, and the spaciousness of the dining room which makes Radii an ideal place for a business lunches and private chit chats. It’s expansive without being intimidating with cheerful touches here and there such as the baskets of fruit and vegetables placed lovingly on the counter, and the general clatter that comes from the big open kitchen.

Jean-Christophe Tomasi’s food is essentially Mediterranean with French and Italian influences. The flavours are clear and fresh and the presentation of each dish is very attractive. Start with the deliciously flavoursome flamed lobster bisque with Pernod cream and then perhaps move onto the crisp pork belly with Hokkaido scallops, cauliflower puree and sticky jus. There is a wood-fired oven of which I can safely recommend anything that’s been cooked within it. The snapper fillets, which are seared on the skin side and left to rest in the oven, combine crispy skin and succulent flesh and are served with baby vegetables and a citrus beurre blanc. There are a number of grills too, for those who like a dozen oysters and a great steak. It’s not cheap (five-star hotels never are), but it has a sense of occasion that makes it worthwhile. Lunch is a more casual affair with choices like Caesar salad and vegetable frittata however the lunch special, including valet parking, is exceptional value.


Summit Restaurant Sydney - Profile by De Groots Media 

Turning 40 has never looked so fabulous. Life really does begin at 40 for Sydney’s original revolving restaurant, the Summit. The crowning glory of the Harry Seidler designed Australia Square, the Summit has been given a glam makeover to mark its milestone birthday that combines 60s retro style with new millennium flair, proving that what goes around truly does come around. And with a new man on the scene in the guise of internationally renowned celebrity chef and restaurateur, Michael Moore, the Summit has proven that it is still the “It Girl of Sydney dining” even into its fourth decade.

Michael Moore took over the Summit in 2007, bringing with him 20 years of experience garnered in some of Europe and Australia’s top restaurants. Moore’s approach to his menu is to build around a feature ingredient which is then interwoven with accents of flavour. The result is a contemporary culinary creation that encourages the produce to shine as much as the view through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Moore’s signature dish of mushroom croustada with fontina and reggiano cheese, cauliflower and garlic creamed spinach with a porcini mushroom glaze tempts with its intricate blend of flavours. Another star is the twice-cooked pork belly with glass crackling and apple balsamic topping. Lenotre patissier Mark Stone deftly handles desserts but if you want to see out the night in truly decadent style, kick back in the Orbit Lounge with a classy cheese platter and drink in the sparkling view of Sydney below.

LOCATION Level 47 of Australia Square, Sydney CBD. 

Enjoy your Valentine's Day!… Anna