A post from No Experts Australian Correspondent
I joined the Sydney Wine group several months ago, but seemed to keep missing the monthly events, because of previous engagements. An off “piste” Cellar night at Bécasse was a fabulous opportunity to meet some of the members for the first time. I love the concept that you can take your own wines to a restaurant to match a pre-published taster menu. With 10 in our group, this allowed a very generous couple of bottles per course. We kicked off with a couple of fabulous champagnes, including a 2002 vintage Veuve Cliquot. The Canapé tarts were accompanied by lovely soft, warm artisan breads.
Three courses stood out for me, Our first course of a delicately flavoured Civet of Cloudy bay clams, prawn and scallop. This French Broth was delightful, if a little cold, due to the wait for our whites to be opened. The 2nd course of Cobia which is a meaty fish, and accompanied by lightly battered Oyster Beignets that just simply melted in the mouth. Both were accompanied by a beautiful German Riesling and the lovely Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon that, had layers and layers of complexity.
Lastly our cheese course of Holy Goat La Luna with preserved rhubarb and toasted kugelhopf, a fruit cake/bread that is believed to be of either Austrian or Alsatian origin. Legend has it that the kugelhopf recipe was brought to France by Marie Antoinette who was born in Austria. Regardless of it’s origin, the toasted kugelhopf made a lovely accompaniment to our slightly warmed goats cheese. The caramelised apple tart deserves a mention too, however I felt that the veal dish was a little dry, although the sweetbreads and roast garlic accompaniments were delicious. The Wagyu beef rib, was a little tough. This may have been because my dish was sitting under lights to keep it warm, while I had popped to the loo, or simply because the accompanying wines were so magnificent that the courses accompanying them, simply paled into insignificance. Our host had very generously provide a bottle of Penfold’s Grange 91, which was still showing a fair amount of American oak! A description offered by one of my fellow diners of “pop corn” proved very apt!
Our increasingly rowdy group, didn’t seem to bother the other diners too much, although normally you cannot here a pin drop in this hushed establishment. Staff were friendly and jumped through hoops in order to double decant our wines, and assist with crumbling corks! They were extremely helpful and accommodating, although some might argue that with a 15% service charge, they should be! Adding a service charge is not common practise in Australia, although I always leave some sort of tip if the service is good.. Overall a superb evening, and I will certainly return for another cellar night!
Marks out of 10
Update June 2012 – The group of restaurants run by Justin North which includes Becasse, have gone into administration. See Smartcompany artical.