Assiette in Surry Hills, Sydney (now closed)

Assiette is a restaurant not much larger than my living and dining rooms combined. Its warm, cosy atmosphere and good food did make me truly feel at home.

What is Assiette?
Assiette is  a two hat restaurant (Australia’s equivalent of Michelin stars) located on Albion Street in Surry Hills within walking distance from Central station. Owned by Warren Turnbull and with head chef Soren Lascelles, Assiette produces high quality and affordable food with a modern French twist.

What’s on the menu?
You can go either a la carte or degustation. The degustation is AU$105 without wine or AU$170 with matching wines. That’s what I would call affordable for a restaurant of this calibre. We went for the degustation of 8 courses without the matching wines (because last time I did that I left the restaurant not remembering what I ate).

My pedestrian thoughts
Firstly I’ll put it out there that I’m no food critic, but I do like and enjoy good and wholesome food. Here are my pedestrian thoughts.

I went into Assiette thinking that I would be getting French food, so I was surprised to see so many Asian influences in the degustation menu through the yuzu, shiso, dashi, shitake and kombu. I thought these elements added a refreshing lightness to the dishes, especially their frequent use towards the start.

You immediately sense an organised progression in your palate as you move through the courses. It begins light with hints of acidity before moving towards the richer and stronger flavours. It makes you crave more for your next course.

Seafood is their strong point. You may have noticed that most courses apart from the “main” are seafood. Each piece of fish was cooked perfectly with a crispy skin and soft, moist flesh. Admittedly I am no fan of mackerel (because it reminds me of sardines), but the dill emulsion and bed of tasty “sand” (I had no idea what it was) removed enough of that terrible fishy smell (which I dislike) to make it quite a pleasant dish.

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The dish I least liked:
The main of wagyu bavette and beef cheek did remind me a little of an Asian stew. The flavours did have a distinct Asian flavour to it thanks to the shitake caramel. My wagyu was a little sinewy but on the whole the beef cheek was tender and moist, and generally it was nice. I suppose I had expected something different and instead I got something familiar.

The dish I didn’t expect:
The octopus in the panfried mulloway dish was so soft and flavoursome that it made me question my understanding of the texture of octopus. I always knew it as hard and chewy. Also, that dish had an intense Spanish influence which I did not expect (refer above).

The dish I liked most:
It was the dashi jelly in the hiramasa kingfish dish that really sealed it. The flavour was so intense it took me back to Japan. It went really well against the oyster beignet (fritter) and all the other elements of the dish. Particularly, it heightened the contrast of the sourness of the roe and cured kingfish.

The dessert:
That bitter chocolate cake rocked my world. It had an awesome crust but was still soft on the inside. Combined with the ice cream it was truly heaven on a plate. I think bitter here meant “not sweet” because I didn’t find the cake bitter at all. It was definitely light and the sourness from the raspberries and chestnut puree were nice complements, though I could have done without and just had more cake.

Final thoughts
The complete meal took approximately 2.5 hours. You may think the portion sizes look small and that it will not be filling, but trust me, it is after you’ve eaten 8 of them. You will come out feeling satisfied and truly happy after dessert, all ready to tackle the winter chill as you open the door on your way out.

More information
For more information or to make a reservation, head on over to Assiette’s website. Read more reviews here on Eatability.

Thanks for reading my pedestrian thoughts. Leave a comment below and let us know what your thoughts are on Assiette.

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