#SummerMenu at Flying Fish
Last year, I had the good fortune to meet Denea Buckingham (@GourmetRabbit) on a road trip to the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Since then, Denea’s been widening my food and wine horizons; from enjoying cooking and eating food to loving and living it. Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to the introduction of the #summermenu at Flying Fish (@FlyingFishAU) in Pyrmont.
At the end of Jones Bay Wharf in Pyrmont, Flying Fish offers beautiful views of the harbour towards the Balmain peninsula, particularly from the outdoor lounge bar area. When I arrived at the restaurant, I was greeted by the early showers of the nights gang and a very pleasant waitress who promptly brought be a delightful French Sauvignon Blanc. So the evening was off to the great start!
Arrival & canapés
After the rest of the crew arrived, we were greeted by Rob, the Flying Fish bar manager, who presented us an off-menu cocktail called Breakfast at Tiffany’s, quite a delightful tipple, I must say. This was soon followed by some imaginative (and moreish!) canapés. We started with Claire de Lune Sydney Rock oysters with ocean trout pearls I’m told they were delicious, but unfortunately I’m not an Oyster eater, I wasn’t able to try these out. These were followed by Paleta jamon iberico crostini with espresso mayo, a wafer thin and absolutely delicious combination that I enjoyed, even as a non-coffee drinker! Pop corn prawns with mayo and coriander where next up and amongst the most imaginative canapés I have ever been presented (and I do a lot of corporate events!). Flashbacks of being a kid at the movies caused a sly grin of childlike joy.
As the evening progressed, we made our way into the private dining room to begin our degustation service. The private dining room is a double height space, featuring a 2-storey wall of wine and topped with the pastry kitchen, definitely a place I would love to run an event. Head Chef Stephen Seckold and Sommelier Joe Turnaturi introduced each course of the degustation menu and fielded our questions with the gusto of men clearly passionate about what they do. The passion and wisdom of these men was matched by the helpful and polite staff of the restaurant, certainly a cohesive crew.
Our first course of the night is one of Flying Fish’s signature dishes, Seared yellow fin tuna with ruby red grapefruit, sweet crackling pork & black pepper caramel. The dish has an overall earthen colour from the red tuna meat, pork cracking and brown sauce in stark contrast with the white plate. I come from country WA, so I find this comforting and beautifully homey. Tuna is one of my favourite fish (please leave it raw though! It loses so much magic when it’s cooked through!!) and I just can’t go past Pork crackling (my poor waist), so I was very excited to try this dish. The Tuna was prepared to perfection and eaten with a portion of the small wedge of grapefruit concealed below created a taste I have not experienced before. The twice cooked Pork belly below complemented the fish well, although I never would have thought to put this kind of thing together myself. My only complaint with this course is the sweetness of the sauce, while delicious, did tend to overpower the taste of the Tuna. This was enjoyed along side a 2010 Rogers & Rufus Grenache from the Barossa Valley.
The evenings second course was Confit of Petuna ocean trout with pea & black sesame mousse, puffed quinoa & tangerine oil or as Iggy (@IggyPintado) put it, Fish n’ Peas! It was certainly the most delicious (and extravagant) Fish n’ Peas I’ve ever had! A brightly coloured dish of red and green, topped with black roe, it inspired bright and uplifting feelings, backed with clear and subtle tastes. The only part of this dish I didn’t eat was the Roe, as I find it a little too seafood tasting (like I can complain about that on a menu dominated by fish!). Served along side a 2008 Vouvray Sec Champalou Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France.
A brief breather and the nights stunner was presented. Reading the description of Prawn ravioli with poached scampi, shaved abalone, zucchini flower & tomato & coriander vinaigrette, we knew we were really in for something really special and boy did it deliver! This is one if the best dishes I have ever tasted and I was not alone, Denea and Helen (@helenlovesfood) both rated it in their top dishes ever, no small feat for a meal. This plate is just full of surprises, from the way the flavours combine as you chew to the incredible sensation as Finger Lime pieces explode in your mouth, delivering a burst of citrus to the ravioli. The 2009 Vinhos Verdes Quinta do Ameal Loureiro from Mihno from Portugal provided a swirl of flavours along with these different incredients and really emphasised the meal. And who can go past some Zucchini flower, really? This is definitely a dish I would come back for, over and over again.
By this point in the evening, many of us were starting to feel full, but the food just keept coming and those delightful smells and tastes quickly override any feelings of defeat. I wish my body had a ‘degustation’ setting so it would ignore the feeling of full just a little while longer! Our fourth course would be Pan roasted hapuka with hazelnut, white balsamic potato, green grape, Pantelleria capers & beurre noisette. Stephen informed us that each plate comes with a single green grape, hand peeled by the chefs in the kitchen. I certainly feel their pain having to prepare such a laborious item for so many people, but the taste of this grape left no doubt in my mind that it was worth it. A mixture of spices coated one side of the fillet on the plate and certainly lent some beautiful flavours to the meat. The hapuka was served alongside several hazelnuts and potatoes, which gave it some interesting textures as you ate – soft fish, crunchy hazelnuts and starchy potato. Texture variations like these are what makes food such a fascinating affair and are far too often ignored so I enjoyed this mix immensely. Served with a 2009 Gabo do Xil from Valdeorras from Spain.
The final ‘main’ dish of the night was Wagyu Mb7+ sirloin & braised short rib with smoked leek, king brown mushrooms, beetroot & horseradish. The colours of this dish are so vibrant that photos don’t truly do them justice. The beetroot and horseradish purée has such a rich, reddish pink colour that almost perfectly matches the colour of the medium rare meat. This is accented with the greens of the meal, providing a beautiful sash through the plate. I am quite the fan of a well cooked steak and this did not disappoint, with a subtle yet full flavour that mixed well with the purée and mushroom. It was paired with a 2006 J. Bouchon “La Mercedes” Cabernet Savignon shiraz from the Malbec Maule Valley in Chile. I don’t normally drink red wines and was expecting to be put off by this early on, however, once I had tasted it after eating some of what was on my plate my entire perception of red wines shifted. The only thing I could have asked for with this course was some extra greens. I often feel that restaurants focus too much on the meat and leave the sides a little light on the ground.
Still reading? I’m impressed! Obviously you were just dying to get to the dessert, after all that’s the first place we wanted to be as kids, why not as adults too? This dish is something that Stephen and his team truly excelled at, mixing flavours and ingredients I would not normally associate with a dessert at all! Gingerbread crumble, apple ice cream, black salt, roasted almonds & fennel, a formidable mix of wonderful flavours that really appealed to my love of savoury flavours. Put simply, order this dessert! Joe presented us a 2006 Coteaux du Layon Domaine Beaumard ‘Cote d’Or’ Chen Blanc, also from the Loire Valley in France, alongside this final course and it was a wonderful wine to end the night on.
It’s been an epic post…
Well, this small blog post has quickly morphed into an essay! If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me as I poured my experience out for you. The meal was definitely one to remember and was accompanied with a great crowd of people I am all the better for meeting and who really made the night memorable. I want to take these last few words to extend thanks to Denea for planting the seed that grew into the night and to Stephen, Joe, Rob, Holly and all of the Flying Fish team for their incredible efforts on the meal and location. While it is a bit expensive, Flying Fish will provide you a night and a meal to remember fondly. Definitely a great special occasion venue with private rooms I would love to book sometime for an event.
A note on wine
As someone who is a little daft when it comes to selecting and enjoying wine, I learnt a lot about the way the taste of wine can vary enormously with a meal. Some of the wines we drank on the night where not wines I would have selected myself (particularly anything red!), however, paired with the meals and the ingredients and flavours within them, their true nature exploded on my palate. If you’re like me and don’t know much about wine, I highly recommend you learn, as I am slowly doing with the help of wonderful people like Denea and passionate Sommeliers like Joe. There is simply nothing like experiencing new flavours and I hope to keep doing it until the day I die. A life lived in the comfort zone is, after all, a life not truly lived.
Lower Deck, Jones Bay Wharf
19-21 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
Tel: +61 2 9518 6677
Want to read some real food blogger comments about Flying Fish’s Summer Menu? Check out these blogs of the night! (They are all much better than my ramblings, let me tell you!)
- Simon Leong (Simon Food Favourites)
- Rebecca Varidel (Inside Cuisine)
- Leona K (Pigged Out)
- John (He Needs Food)
There are also some delicious photos to make your mouth water: