So we recently headed over to Sage Dining Rooms for a fancy little treat. Prior to actually looking it up on Google Maps right before our reservation, we had absolutely no idea where it was. We were pretty surprised to find that Sage was in Braddon, literally a stone throws away from work, if I pegged one really really hard. Actually, I reckon if I never looked it up, I don’t think I would have ever found Sage. Sage was not in an area you can accidentally stumble across like Aubergine, this awesome little place is hidden in the Gorman Arts Centre, just a little off Ainslie Ave. Actually its right behind derro city, I had no idea there were nice things there! And Mint Garden Bar is walkable from walk! I know where I’m going for fancy Friday night drinks now.
Anyways, more chatter about food and less rambling. So after looking at the menu for a while and pondering over our choices, we just couldn’t make up our minds. Everything looked so fancy and the degustation or chef’s picks as it was referred to on the menu was pretty tempting, it was five courses for $75 otherwise there was the three normal pick your own courses for $75 as well. We wanted to go with the degustation and try a little bit of everything on the menu but it didn’t include the custard which I really wanted to try. So I opted for the three courses, I did notice that the normal courses were larger than the degustation courses.
All rightie, time to talk about the food.
First up like any fancy schmancy place, we started our meal with some Complimentary bread and butter with black lava salt. Not much to report here expect that it was delicious, fluffy, light and airy. I’m a big fan of black lava salt, always makes me feel fancy, didn’t actually know that it was called that but I did some research just for this post! The butter with its lovely saltiness was paired with some lovely sourdough. As per usual a perfect way to start a fantastic night.
For our first dish of the night, we decided to grab a couple of the bite size treats, starting with a serving of the Mushroom consomme ($3 each) with hazelnut foam. This was pretty much a super creamy and rich mushroom soup with airy and light hazelnut foam served in a cute little shot glass. When the waiter was heading over to our table with this, I thought we were getting some complementary espresso shots. This was absolutely amazing, just enough to leave you wanting more but not too much that the richness got to you. We also found that the nuttiness of the hazelnut really helped to balance out the richness of the mushroom.
For our second bite size treat, we grabbed the Tendon chicharron ($3 each) with caviar, charred onion aioli and lime. When I read tendon on the menu I just assumed that crunchy white stuff near the bone that my parents always really enjoyed. I wasn’t expecting these awesome airy treats! I think I’ve had something similar in our degustation at Muse Restaurant in Hunter Valley. When I had them in the Hunter I thought it was just pork crackling but now I know what they actually are and boy did they taste good! The tendons were like a meaty flavoured prawn cracker but slightly lighter and more airy in texture. Plus the creamy aioli gave it a lot of flavour while the lime balanced it off with some tanginess. The caviar gave it texture and savouriness while the spices gave it flavour and kick. Just awesome all round!
Our first entree for the night was the Sugar cured ocean trout crumbed with olives, sesame seed and pistachio on an avocado and wasabi puree with roe, pickled cucumber and a Persian dressing. This was so good, everything just worked. The freshness of the trout, the saltiness from the roe, the sweetness of the dressing, the creaminess and kick from the avocado and wasabi paste. Every component was perfect and together it just made the whole dish taste amazing. At this point, I was pretty happy I went with the three courses instead of the degustation, if I got the degustations I would have only gotten one of these awesome sugar cured ocean trout to enjoy!
For our second entree, we got the Glazed pork belly on a cauliflower puree with a radish and pear salad. This was absolutely amazing! When I saw the radish and pear salad I thought that it was going to be really weird with the flavourful and meaty pork belly, but it worked really well. The mild sweetness of the pear acted as sort of a solid apple sauce which normally goes so well with pork, so it was a classic idea, done in a way I hadn’t experienced before. As for the pork, there wasn’t any super crispy skin, which normally would be a huge turn off, but the texture and flavour of this pork more than made up for it. The pork was done in what seemed to be fish sauce which gave it a subtle Asian flavour, and it just melted in your mouth. Yum!
So we ended up with a third entree, the Butternut pumpkin soup with chestnut cream and parsnip crisp. So since Ouk didn’t want dessert, we asked Sage if we could change it up and get two entrees and one main instead of the usual entree, main and dessert combination. After speaking to the kitchen our waiter came back and said they were more than happy to, so good news for anyone who likes customising their courses. I totally should have gotten an entree and two desserts! Well, actually maybe not, my main was pretty delicious but more about that later.
As for the butternut pumpkin soup, it was pretty damn tasty. The soup was super creamy with a really strong pumpkin taste to it, I know that sounds stupid. Duh its pumpkin soup, it has to taste like pumpkin! But have you ever had a pumpkin soup that has a really subtle pumpkin taste to it, like it has been dulled or watered down? I’m a big fan of pumpkin so I prefer the super strong pumpkin flavours, hence I really enjoyed this soup. Also enjoyed the chestnut cream, it added a lot of nuttiness to the soup and subdued the sweetness of the pumpkin. The crispy parsnip chips also added some great texture.
For our first main, we grabbed the Pan roasted swordfish with hummus gyoza, tuna prosciutto, brussel sprouts and a yuzu cream. Normally I don’t really care for fish, weird coming from a pescatarian but this dish was awesome! If fish tasted like this all the time, I would definitely be less of a hater. It was just perfect, the flesh inside was super soft and juicy, the outer layer was light and crispy and the whole thing tasted amazing. On top of the delicious fish, the condiments were awesome, who knew hummus could work so well in gyoza. It was just like having a soft and super creamy dumpling, totally going to try and recreate these at home! The fish and the gyoza were both quite mild in taste and flavour so the yuzu cream worked perfectly. It brought a whole new dimension of flavour and creaminess to the plate. Even the brussel sprouts were nice! It was mildly pickled and brought just enough tanginess to the dish to balance out the creaminess. Absolutely amazing dish all round. Definitely feel safe ordering fish plates at Sage.
Our second main was the Beef fillet on foie gras with forest mushrooms, creamy potatoes and dehydrated kale. The beef was cooked perfectly, as you can probably see from the picture, it was perfectly pink all the way through, exactly how I like it. It tasted fantastic, they didn’t overdo the spices and just let the meat do all the talking and with all the other strong flavours on the plate I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The dehydrated kale was super crispy and they pretty much tasted like potato chips but healthy! Being able to chomp away on these things gave such a nice relief to all the similar textures of everything else in this dish, so these were a great compliment. The foie gras was amazing! I love foie gras though, so I don’t know how much that means, to be honest, they didn’t really give much but it’s foie gras so I kind of get that.
Of course we couldn’t help but order a side of Paris truffle mash ($10). This was amazing, super rich, really creamy with a lot of truffley goodness to it. The minute it hit the table I could smell the truffles, I didn’t even know the mash had truffle in it, I wasn’t really paying attention when we ordered it but I didn’t even need to confirm it. Plus there was so much of it, between the two of us we probably only got about half way through it. It was very rich, so if you’re normally not a massive fan of richness, think twice or ensure you’re sharing it with a couple of people or something. Still super enjoyable.
Finally, for dessert we got the Vanilla custard with cassis, poached pears, pistachio and black cardamon. This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but it was still super tasty. I always kind of hesitated to order custard at restaurants, I figured its just custard, how amazing can it be? And then I tried the custard dessert plate at Temporada, from then on I’ve been on a bit of a custard safari, trying out custards at every possible chance to try and find my favourite. So far, I’ve only had a few and all of them have been soft, smooth and silky. The custard at Sage was different, it was still silky and smooth but more jelly like. I know the description was horrible and I probably didn’t do Sage’s custard any justice but I’ll try harder on the taste front.
Taste wise, amazing! The custard was super creamy and had a more subtle custard taste to it, normally I prefer stronger flavours but here it worked. I reckon it worked because the mild custard flavours went so well with all the other flavours and textures on the plate. There was sweetness and sourness from the cassis sheets which reminded me of those RollUp snack bars I got for recess as a kid but thinner and not as sticky and stretchy. Strong pistachio flavours that complimented the custard perfectly, the tanginess and fruitiness from the poached pears and finally the cardamon, flavourful and crumbly, it almost tasted like cookie crumbles. Together the textures, the flavours, everything going on all at once just tasted super yum. Loved it, after trying this custard at Sage, I don’t think I mind this thicker jellyish custard style either!
Sage was an absolutely amazing experience, the atmosphere was great, the staff were super friendly and the food was simply amazing. Everything we had was nice, normally even at fancy schmancy restaurants, its like 95% hit but a minor miss here and there but here at Sage, it was just fantastic all round.
Oh extra note, Sage has an amazing wine list, it went on for pages and pages and had everything from your traditional reds and whites to the sticky stuff I like. We were seriously considering getting a wine at Sage but after staring at their wine menu for a while and not being able to figure out which of the whites ones were semi sweet we gave up.
I should probably include a little story that explains how we ended up with this red wine. If you’ve read my posts on the Hunter Valley, you’ll know that I’m a complete light weight and pretty hopeless when it comes to wine, I’m still a semi sweet to super sweet sort of person.
So how did we end up with two awesome cups of red? Well apparently our mains were taking a long time, so the staff at Sage came out and apologised and gave us the wine on the house. They did tell us what it was, but being quite hopeless, I can’t remember now, something along the lines of French and 2007. I thought it was a really nice gesture, it really does differentiate a good restaurant from those that are truly amazing. We didn’t even say anything or realise that our food was behind schedule! It all just happened!
Awesome experience all round at Sage Dinning Rooms, absolutely cannot wait to go back! I’ve already got a booking in two weeks time for their pauper to princes truffle menu. This is pretty much a menu designed for the Canberra Truffle Festival, the menu will run at lunch on Tuesdays to Sunday from now until mid August. Cost wise, it will be three courses for $75, so the same as their usual stuff. Absolutely cannot wait.