Assiette can be found on Albion Street, just down the road from hipster hangout Rueben Hills and yet the two couldn't be further apart. Asseitte puts the capital "S" back into Schmancy- look at all those white table clothes - there's not a polished cement floor or exposed brick wall in sight. It feels lovely and grown-up my friend Miss M + I are delighted.
Dinner kicks off with a bread roll that we slather in butter and sprinkle with sea salt. The roll is still warm and the butter melts and oozes into the soft pillowy centre of the bread.
We decide to go with the 6 course degustation. At $105 each it seems like a good deal, especially as we have a travelzoo voucher giving us $50 of the total bill (I'm always the bargain hunter - what can I say...it's in my DNA).
The feast begins with a light summery starter of Hiramasa ceviche with coconut, heirloom tomato, jalapeno and yuzu. The fish is yet tender to the bite and the addition of the yuzu gives the dish a lovely zesty flavour. We're off to a good start.
Next up is the wonderfully luscious Jannei goats' curd with vincotto, figs, golden beetroot and "cereal". I enjoyed the crunch of the cereal against the creaminess of the slightly tart goats' curd and the figs were delighted sweet. The golden beetroot was so lovely and fresh tasting with the basil crumb being just a little sour. Another summery dish and beautiful looking dish.
Miss M was little hesitant about the next dish - Glazed Silver Lake smoked eel with black sesame, grilled leek and onion puree - never having eaten eel before. I on the other hand am a HUGE fan of eel (the food, not the football team - just to be clear). I love the firm meaty texture and slight oiliness of the fish and smoking the eel made it even more sublime and earthy. I also enjoyed the onion puree that was seasoned with just a hint of fennel seed - the slight aniseed taste went so well with the eel. The leeks were perfect - as leeks always seem to be. I surprised Miss M by eating them roots on all...i figure if it's on the plate it's meant to be eaten (I think).
Next up we had Bass grouper with saffron parsnip mussels, dulse and candied lemon. No idea what dulse is - anyone? The fish was nice - very simple in flavour. I really loved the candied lemon in this dish - slightly tart, slight sweet. It's a good example of "nose to tail" vegetable cooking (I'm kidding, but now that I think about it is good to see a wonderful use for something that often ends up in my bin at home)!
The crispy-skin quail with pickled carrot, Szechuan salt and ginger vinegar was AMAZING - possibly my favourite dish of the night! The quail was so delicious that it was a crime to just have two pieces each. The skin was amazingly crisp yet the meat still tender and just a little pink. The meat almost had a slight cinnamon flavour to it which I suppose came from the masterstock it was sous-vide in.
Another highlight of the night was the tender Milly Hill lamb loin with aubergine (aka eggplant) puree, baked Jerusalem artichokes and balsamic. I've only recently come around to eating my meat in anything less than a charcoaled state, but to have beautiful lamb cooked to almost burnt would, like I have in the past, really is a crime - what an idiot I've been! I especially loved the balsamic tomato hidden in this dish - it was like eating a puff of air - so light!
Despite the six courses we've just consumed we've still got plenty of room for dessert. The portion sizes were perfectly balanced and we didn't leave Assiette felling overly full, or still hungry. Desserts commence whit a little pre-dessert of vanilla panacotta and blood orange sorbet. It's only a mouthful or three, but it's just enough to get us into the mood for the main event.
Chocoholics will LOVE the chocolate marquise and sorbet with salted caramel ice-cream and cocoa nibs. My favorite part of this dish would have to be the salted caramel ice-cream, there's almost nothing better. The chocolate marquise was a circular disk of very dark, very rich chocolate mousse. Perfection.
We finish the meal with a little petit four of candied marshmallow - a bit too sugary sweet for me, but I did enjoy the soft pillowy marshmallow.
Assiette is at Albion Street, Surry Hills. Phone them on 9212 7979.