Monday, May 24, 2010

New Contender for favourite restaurant - Sepia

What makes a good restaurant? The overall 'experience'? The food? The price? The service?
Well, Sepia ticks all the right boxes.

I have been wanting to visit Sepia Restaurant for months, but bookings for Saturday night are a couple of weeks in advance.  Having secured a booking for last Saturday, we braved the cold, rainy weather to experience the warmth that is Good Food Guide-'hatted' Sepia dining.

You are made welcome from the time you walk in the door.  The dining room is all dark brown wooden surfaces (no tablecloths!) and cushiony banquettes along the walls.  The jazz music in the background is quite loud, so the diners make up for it by talking louder - it can get quite, er, loud, at times.

There is a set 9-course degustation menu on Saturday nights in May and June ($130 per person, with $70 extra with matching wines).  I'd give my kingdom (or credit card) for a good degustation any time.

I'll just give you my impressions of the food and service - it's was all perfect, in case you just want a summary.
Click on the picture above for a closeup of the menu;
warm bread roll was served with whipped truffle butter;
in addition to the menu, we ordered the 'special' for the evening: Sydney Rock oysters ($4 each) from Tathra Lake and Merimbula, served with sweet rice wine vinegar and lime dipping sauce;
the amuse bouche was a tomato liquor with chia seeds

First course: Pickled cuttlefish, bacon noodles and smoked quail egg;
Second coursetea-cured Hiramasa kingfish, popcorn dashi and corn silk (didn't eat the corn silk, as it looked like a garnish)

Third course: Queensland spanner crab and buckwheat risotto with shellfish essence (foam) - very intense shellfish flavour that almost brought out my allergy;
Fourth course: Butter-poached Murray cod with wakame, braised bone marrow, apple jelly, kohlrabi, baby radish and puffed skin - this was my (equal) favourite dish of the night, due to the beautiful presentation, perfectly-cooked fish, and the fish skin that tasted like crackling.

Fifth course: Aylesbury duck breast with braised almonds, almond milk and fennel candy (on a stick - lovely flavour). Also, notice the pretty elderflowers on the almond milk;
Sixth course: Poached Angus beef fillet on braised short rib, with buffalo milk 'tofu' and quinoa

Pre-dessert: Ginger foam with finger lime 'caviar' - tingly-hot! (and how I covet the Rosenthal cups and saucers);
1st dessert: mini 'Weiss' bar of mango on macadamia biscuit base, topped with pineapple and foam with nasturtium petals, and a streak of lemon sherbet

Second dessertSour cherry sorbet on 'forest floor' of biscuit millefeuille shavingsgreen tea 'moss' and crystallised fennel fronds. Under the floor was a chocolate disk with chocolate cream and lavender cream.  Look at this plate and tell me it's not the most lovely thing ever! This was also my favourite dish, as the lavender cream was matched flawlessly with the chocolate and sour cherry.  And the presentation was spot on
Petit fours: mini Magnum ice creams, lychee Turkish delight and green tea marshmallows.
Tea and coffee: Macchiato and English breakfast tea.

I was most impressed by the waitstaff, who, when asked, knew what each component of the dishes were, even the fiddly things like elderflowers, orange powder and fennel fronds.  And given the price and quality of the meal, I'd say that Sepia is as good as the meal we had at Quay.  Sure, the setting is not as fancy, being located at the base of an office block, but who can compete with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, anyway?  Lots of taxis pass by the building, too.  And I liked how they open the door to thank you and see you out when you're leaving.

So, all up, it was a wonderful night - with 3 1/2 hours of fabulous food, I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm planning my next visit. Just remember to book ahead.

Sepia Restaurant ( is at
201 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW,  2000.
Ph: + 61 2 9283 1990

Sepia on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh dear. This certainly looks too good to be missed! The presentation is simply genius!

  2. I can certainly see why it's a contender just by looking at the pics!

  3. Oh sepia sepia sepia how I love thheee! Their service and food has been one of the most impressive I have had! Must make my way back there soon!

  4. Great looking food. The helpings look generous and really creative. Oh I totally want to degust right now.

  5. I too really enjoyed Sepia. Next time ask if you can see the kitchen. It's very impressive and they let people through all the time.

  6. FOAMS!! loads of foams!! Everything sounds and looks delicious. Cant complain if it rivals Quay, but is a fraction of the cost, nothing better than getting a great meal at a comfortable price!

  7. on my wish list for sure. it's getting way too long now :-)

  8. This has been on my to-do-list for a long time. You have bumped it up even further ;)

  9. Simply gorgeous. Too many good restaurants, too little time (and money)!

  10. Everything looks so gorgeous! Funny that you mentioned that, I remember asking myself the exact same thing after trying both Quay and Sepia and also decided they were equally great :)

  11. Lucky you! I had a booking for the same night but K had a cold and we didn't feel like spending $130 on a degustation when he couldn't taste a thing! So we postponed it. I am glad you had a great meal, and I hope it will be as good for my degustation in three weeks' time, since their Saturday degustations are supposed to differ each week. Love the look of the amazing desserts ....

  12. Hey Bel! Okay, we don't even have places like this where I live, so I've got neighborhood envy right now. The food looks delicious, and very well thought out...

  13. good to see you live on the edge with you shellfish allergy! my sister is quite allergic to prawns, but will risk her budding shellfish allergy for a crab sandwich.

    that murray cod looks amazing!

  14. Like yourself Belle, I love a place where you're made to feel welcome with very knowledgeable and attentive staff. I found that with some fine dining places, staff can be quite snobby. The "weiss" bar is my all time favourite dessert, I think I've had it 4 times now =D. That forest concoction looks interesting, defintiely indicative of the pastry chef's creativity.

  15. Absolutely sensational. Everything looks so beautiful. What a truly talented kitchen team

  16. I love the food here! And kudos you managed to take some nice photos here despite the darkness. Did you need a flash?

  17. You had me with the whipped truffle butter! But yes, the rest does look amazing too. Do you think Sepia can fly me over for a sponsored meal? hmmm..

  18. I haven't been to Sepia for ages! Thanks for the post - reminds me that I have to make a booking soon. I also enjoyed my last visit there... looks like they changed the menu since that visit so I can't wait to try it!

  19. Impressive, indeed! Still haven't made it here, despite wanting to visit from just before they were hatted. Must rectify this soon!

  20. That chocolate forest is truly mesmerising. I can believe that this was a perfect experience.

    I'm quite fond of having doors opened for me too :)

  21. We always drive/walk past Sepia whenever we are out and about in the city. Always wondered what it would be like.... thanks for making me feel like I was there! Will have to try it out "some day".

  22. this food looks stunning, looks like I'll have to add this to my list of places to try in sydney

  23. I've been dying to get back here again. I enjoyed the first time so much and the menu has totally changes since then so surely a re-visit is justified :)