Slow braised Berkshire pig jowl

As in most fine dining restaurants, we are treated to an amuse bouche, and it is a little shot glass containing a tuna tartare and smoked eel tapioca sitting on radish cream; it is light, refreshing, and very moreish, just perfect for a warm Sydney spring evening.

The first entree was K's marron, and it came out so nicely presented with its vibrant orange and green colours; it resembled a scene from the ocean floor as the vegetables around the outside sat up like seaweed around the marron and the ball of seaweed jelly resembling a pearl. It was literally art on a plate. It tasted fresh, refreshing, light, balanced, and had a great tang.

The other entree was my mud crab congee, which came in a lovely bowl with an abundance of crab meat sitting in the rice broth; there was also a big dollop of cream (I neglected to ask what it was) which dominates the congee in a weird-looking way visually. I was interested in this dish because congee is a Chinese staple, and I wanted to see and taste a Western interpretation. What I found was it had beautiful flavour, with the fresh mud crab meat very tasty, and the dollop of cream added an unusual but welcome texture and taste to the dish; however, there was not much rice in the congee, so I was a little disappointed, because I like my congee with a tad more rice in it. Overall though, it was a good dish.

When the second courses were brought out, we just stared at how beautiful they were! K's quail (which was originally on the menu as partridge but they didn't have any that day) was delicious, with the perfectly cooked quail flavoursome and sitting on a diced stack of bitter chocolate black pudding and walnut crumbs. This was texturally interesting and the accompanying vegetables balanced it nicely.

My crisp pig belly confit was art on a plate times two, with the food presented in a symmetrical circular pattern with three pieces of pig belly, three pieces of the silkiest tofu with a chive wrapped around each one and a chive flower on top, tresses of cuttlefish nestled neatly between the belly and tofu, and a stack of supremely tasty abalone and mushrooms in the middle. This was one amazing dish and had it all: taste, texture, presentation, and freshness, and there was no foam or puree in sight! Just sublime.

A short time later, our third courses came and they looked very simple in presentation compared to the masterpiece second courses.

K's pig jowl looked like a big piece of lard sitting on two prunes and a dollop of cream, but luckily, in spite of its looks, it tasted sensational. Succulent meat that had exquisite flavour and the best crackling imaginable, complimented nicely by the prunes and cauliflower cream. And despite the generous amount of pig jowl, we wished there were more, it was that good.

Overall, it is not hard to see why Quay is at the top echelon of Sydney restaurants, if not alone at the summit. It has wonderful views, great service to match, and food to die for that makes the palate dance.

At Quay, Sydney
Sensational masterpiece

Over the past two or three years, Peter Gilmore's Quay has garnered more awards than I've had foie gras (including its first listing in the S. Pellegrino World's Best 50 Restaurants list, at number 46), and having not been there for almost seven years, it was a good time for my return.


The menu is quite extensive, and there are only two choices for dinner: a la carte (four courses) or the signature degustation (seven courses). We opted for the former and the dishes we chose were:

•Poached Western Australian marron, seaweed jelly, cucumber, fennel, lime creme fraiche
•Mud crab congee, hand shelled mud crab, Chinese inspired split rice porridge
•Gently poached quail breast, bitter chocolate black pudding and walnut crumbs. Truffle custard, fresh palm hearts, white borage buds
•Crisp confit of pig belly, braise of abalone and cuttlefish, handmade silken tofu. Japanese mushrooms, chive flowers
•Slow braised Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, Pedro Ximenez noble sour vinegar, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with plum kernel oil
•Crisp pressed duck confit, kabu turnips, winter melon, hasuimo, garlic scapes. Sea scallops, duck juices
•White peach snow egg
•Eight texture chocolate cake featuring Amedei 'Chuao' Chocolate

Restaurant review

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this recipe

Overseas Passenger Terminal
The Rocks
Sydney 2000 Australia

Slow braised Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream perfumed with prune kernel oil

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