Cirrus – 17 Mar 2017

There are two seafood restaurants that are quite noteworthy at the moment for me – Cirrus, and Saint Peter. For me, I’d read more about Cirrus, but Saint Peter seemed to be the more interesting restaurant even though I didn’t know much about the history of the chef. In my Sydney visit, I wanted to go to Saint Peter more, but the location wasn’t ideal for a dinner due to limited public transport options. In the end, I settled for a brunch visit to Saint Peter, and chose dinner at Cirrus.

Cirrus took Noma Australia’s location at Barangaroo, but didn’t take the kitchen side – that went to Lotus. It was interesting returning to this place, because looking out, the view was similar, but inside, it was quite different.

Alas, no more Zalto glasses! But those lamps look a lot like the ones they use at Rockpool Bar and Grill.

Being a family dinner, I could order wine so that someone else could drink it! I went for a red, as always. But instead of the usual light bodied stuff, the waitress recommended a sangiovese – 2015 Comte Abbatucci “Rouge Frais”. It was actually quite nice!

The other wine I was really curious about, was the set of orange and oxidative wines. It turns out the hipster movement now really likes natural wines, so there’s a small selection here. I agonised between orange or oxidative, and I think it was the waitress that recommended the oxidative one – a 2008 d’Espanet “camille” grenache blanc blend. Or maybe I liked her description of it. I can’t remember. Either way, I was pleasantly surprised when drinking it. Okay, I don’t have a wine vocabulary, but basically I liked it because it wasn’t sweet, it was dry enough for my liking and kind of reminded me of a light bodied red wine… that was white?

We opted for ordering off the a-la-carte menu, except I forgot to order bread! Oops. I’d been repeating it to my family because I definitely wanted bread, but then forgot when I was speaking to the waitress. Maybe I’m just too used to bread being included? It’s more likely that I’m just forgetful.

The Cirrus platter was rather hard to take a decent picture of, so here are some pictures of the oysters and scallops. The scallop tartare was great! We received a selection of oysters, but since there were six to a platter, we ordered two more oysters to be able to evenly split between four people. Other items included cooked prawns, kingfish sashimi and mussels.

This pretty dish was leatherjacket cheeks with seaweed and avocado. I loved the different types of seaweed on this dish!

When I saw whole flathead and chips on the menu, I knew it was a fish and chips dish. And flathead is an incredibly delicious fish! So here it came. That adorable ugly fried face! And that crumb. It was so good. Crunchy, salty and peppery all perfectly balanced. The chips were also fantastic, they were also crunchy and had so much flavour! However, even with all that fantastic, perfectly done stuff, I felt that a flathead special I ate at Cumulus Inc several years ago was done better – maybe it was the way it was cooked that made it so good. So yeah, there’s nothing wrong with this dish, it’s just that I was given a memory of something that I enjoyed more for some reason?

I appear to have lost the details of the menu, but I believe this was a hapuku dish. Either that or it was cod or toothfish. But it must have been hapuku, otherwise I wouldn’t have ordered it? I was unable to get a nice picture of the actual fish since there was a lot of sauce covering this, as well as the pretty greens. For me this was the first time the hapuku didn’t stand out; Cumulus Inc did theirs better, and so did Automata.

At this stage I was a little disappointed that the seafood wasn’t blowing my mind, since this was a seafood restaurant. However, this side of roast swedes, black garlic and parmesan was amazing! The flavour on this was spot on, and the black garlic and parmesan added the umami I was expecting this dish to have. I could keep eating this! And that’s when I realised, Yellow is the Brent Savage restaurant to visit. This place is showing off vegetables the same way I suspect Yellow does! So I might need to bump Yellow up my list for next time…

Look, a set of surgical instruments for each of us! And bibs! Basically, we were faced with a choice of getting the lobster or mudcrab. After much deliberation, we concluded mudcrab was the rarer special since lobster is everywhere. We took the 1.1kg crab which cost $190 per kilo. Ouch!

And here’s what we got – a mudcrab covered in green goop! I thought this presentation was hilarious, it made the crab look so sad! This was an interesting crab because there was no meat in the shell, so we were scraping for the tiniest scraps. The impressive chunks of meat were instead in the massive claws! But we felt that there wasn’t enough meat overall to justify the cost of the crab. The tarragon sauce with this was great, but it did get a bit salty, especially when we used the bread we were given to mop it up – it was just salt with more salt.

Finally, dessert! There were three desserts on the menu, and I planned to get one of each and share. My dad wanted four desserts to be ordered overall though, so we ended up getting two olive oil cakes, mainly because the olive oil cake I had at Kensington Street Social was so good and nothing like what I’d expected. This one didn’t have the lovely light fragrance of olive oil, but still tasted good. That candied sorghum was awesome too! At first I thought it was just caramel popcorn until I remembered the menu description.

This was the fig, whipped ricotta and fennel granita. This was a fairly big dish (all the desserts were described as being 1.5 person sized), and reminded me of breakfast granola. Some of the fennel granita was salty and I didn’t like it, but not all of it was salty. So I’m not sure what was going on with this.

Peach sorbet, verbena, and yoghurt custard. Also a larger dish than what we were expecting. The peach sorbet had a great flavour! But as this wasn’t what I ordered, I don’t remember too much about it. It was nice enough though that I don’t remember anything negative about it.

Overall, for a seafood restaurant, none of the seafood dishes stood out for me. The flathead and chips came close, and was definitely very good, but with each dish I ate, I was wishing for Saint Peter more and more. Perhaps we just didn’t get the restaurant on a good day, it’s hard to tell when I only visit once. The conclusion I made during this visit though, is that Cirrus serves up more “classic” seafood (I’m not actually sure exactly what that means), and that Saint Peter is more progressive (doing things like offal, fish bacon, eyeball chips etc) which is why I think I’d enjoy it more – I like the unexpected. Based on my experience on this night, it actually made me want to visit Yellow. Basically, this restaurant bumped Saint Peter right to the top of my “must visit” list, and has made me want to recommend Yellow as the Brent Savage restaurant to visit.