Etch is another restaurant in the Justin North stable - a successful Sydney restauranteur who has an empire within Westfield Sydney that by all accounts is doing very well. There's a fancy restaurant, a slightly less fancy restaurant, a bakery, a providors, a cooking school and a burger joint tucked away in another section of the food court.
So it seems a bit odd that on a Friday night in late May my friend Miss M and I are dining at Etch (in the Intercontinental Hotel) in what appears to be a dining room FULL of people on Travelzoo vouchers. Don't get me wrong, I love my meal deal vouchers...but I get the sense that restaurants often offer them up when things "aren't going so well". To have a room full of people on a meal deal on a Friday night is not great. For a restaurant as lovely as Etch I hope this overabundance of vouchers doesn't signal the beginning of the end. That would be sad.
The meal is a six course tasting menu that starts with an Amuse Bouche – a delicate corn soup served in a dainty little tea cup. The first entree (how fat do I feel saying "first entree" like one entree just isn't enough) is a salad of char grilled zucchini, goats curd, lemon, capers and raisins.
The entrees continue with Crispy Spencer gulf prawns, peach and a wasabi
cream - a lovely dish with plump and juicy prawns. I don't recollect any peach in this dish but I inhaled it in about 10 seconds so it's a wonder I remember tasting anything at all. Next up is the Autumnal vegetable risotto that is topped with a few crispy, salty lotus root chips.
It's time for the main event (or the two main event, but who's counting right)? Miss M has the caramelized pork belly, with beetroot and pear puree - she's pretty happy with it. I decide to have the non-red meat option of baked snapper with Jerusalem artichoke and braised pearl barley - it's good, really good and fairly filling as it comes served on a medley of beans, corn and red onion.
The final main arrives - aromatic slow braised lamb shoulder, onions, spinach, mint and balsamic for Miss M. She loves this dish, and says the lamb is so tender it falls apart with the touch of the fork. My pumpkin gnocchi with pumpkin seed crisp, parmesan crisp and a black pepper vinaigrette is not at all what I was expecting. The gnocchi is more like a deep-fried croquette...not the pudgy little potato dumpling I was expecting. It's delicious though...sometimes it's great to be surprised.
Pre-dessert - for when one dessert just isn't enough. The rhubarb compote, wine jelly, rhubarb jelly vanilla chantilly is a fun looking pre-dessert (and tasty too). The jelly is almost like grown-up wine gums and the chantilly cream is as light as a feather. The lemon parfait, pineapple, coconut salad topped with coriander calls an end to the evening. The coriander was an interesting touch - not something that I've had on a dessert before.
Etch is at 62 Bridge Street, Sydney. Phone them on 9247 4777.