Phone: (02) 6249 6050
Cuisine: French, Modern Australian, Degustation
As a special farewell for a friend who was leaving the city, we headed to Sage for a last hurrah and some fine dining.
I'd heard lots of good things about Sage, so was definitely expecting great things. It possibly didn't help them that I'd just been to Vue de Monde a few days before.
Service on arrival was pleasant as the waiter offered to take out coats and made friendly small talk. Menus were laid out on the table with a selection from the already rather limited menu. My first disappointment for the night was that the two dishes I had set my eyes on from the online menu were not available. I'm not sure if it was due to the size of our group (~12 people), or whether it was standard, so we'll let that one slip.
We opted for the three course meal for $80, which included bread and amuse bouche.
|house baked bread with artisan churned butter and sea salt|
First up was a starter of house baked bread served with artisan churned butter and sea salt. The freshly baked bread was warm, crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. The butter was smooth, rice and creamy, and salt was, well, salt. A nice start to the meal.
|amuse bouche: mushroom miso consomme|
Ahh, I love this kind of food. The amuse bouche came in the guise of a mushroom soup infused with miso, a tuile and some pieces of mushroom served on a piece of slate. The soup was rich and filled with mushroomy goodness, although a tad too salty. The tuile was crisp and acted a little like a crouton. Delicious!
After quite a long wait, our entrees were brought out.
|pork ‘all sorts':slow cooked belly, braised cheek, choucroute, baby vegetables|
For me, pork belly is either braised or stewed to the point where the rind becomes soft and gelatinous, or it is roasted so that the crackling is crunchy and 'cracks' when cut with a knife. Yes, yes, MasterChef has taught me a lot...
This one? The meat was soft and tender, the fat was rendered, but the crackling was not the least big crunchy. It was soggy and a little chewy. To be honest, I would've gotten better roast pork from an Asian BBQ store (and there aren't that many of them around in Canberra).
The other entrees included a heirloom carrot dish, and a 'beetroot variations' dish that my friends raved about.
|honey peppered heirloom carrots:malt, yolk, ricotta, olive powder, brioche|
|beetroot variations: eucalyptus smoked trout, freeze dried mandarin, coriander|
What was worse was when she brought out the veal for a friend, and somehow managed to spill sauce on my coat (perhaps it would have been a better idea to hand my coat in when we got there). I didn't realise what had happened until a friend pointed it out to me. The waitress made one of the biggest mistakes in restaurant service - she failed to acknowledge it and pretended nothing happened, but clearly knew because she suddenly became very flustered, and her attitude only got worse after that.
Anyway, onto the mains...
|lemon sole: potato crumble, cauliflower, parsley, capers, red wine jus|
I couldn't quite work out where the red wine jus or lemon elements of the dish were. The sauce dolloped around the plate certainly did not taste like red wine (and were creamy and tangy, going well with the fish). What I missed most with the dish was the lemon. I felt like there could have been a much more intense lemon flavour, whether it be in some deconstructed form, or even as a wedge of lemon on the side. Without the lemon, the dish really relied heavily on the 'roll-up' for any variation in flavour.
|muscovy duck: orange, carrot, pickled red cabbage, licorice|
|artichokes: textures of globe & jerusalem artichokes, hazelnut, kale, sherry|
|veal tenderloin: sweetbreads, forest mushrooms, sweet potato, soy & maple glaze|
|French peas - bacon, eschallot, cos lettuce|
The waiting times were getting longer and longer. If I recall correctly, dessert took almost 45 minutes to be served - and this was after the waiters insisted we order our desserts when we ordered the entrees and mains. One would have thought that pre-ordering dessert would mean that it would come out faster, or at least in a reasonable amount of time.
|electric citrus: pound cake, kalamansi curd, marshmallow, lemon sorbet|
The dessert was everything a dessert needed - textures, flavours, and aethetically pleasing.
|chocovado: chocolate cremeux, hazelnut cocoa crumble, lemon gel, avocado cream|
|rhubarb & raspberry: quinoa crunch, creme brulee foam, rose petals|
Just don't go for the service.
Overall Impression: 7.5/10