Review: Restaurant Atelier

Sometimes, I manage to simply baffle my colleagues with my luck. It seems like at least once a week I’ll walk in and say something like “I’ve got free tickets tonight to that new movie” or “The guy at the coffee shop gave me a free muffin with my chai latte” or even “I managed to get one of those rarer-than-gold all-day car spots right outside the office building”.

A few weeks ago, I won a dinner for two at Restaurant Atelier in Glebe as I just happened to be their 1500th follower on Twitter – what sheer good luck! When K and I arrived, the waitress took us to the kitchen where we met Chef Darren Templeman and his supporting chefs in person. They were incredibly welcoming, with Chef Templeman inviting us to take a seat and simply let him and his team work their magic, sending dishes out to our table without us needing to look at a menu. All we needed to do was sit back and enjoy the night on the house – what bliss!

House-baked bread with Pepe Saya butter
Fresh-baked bread with Pepe Saya butter

We started with fresh baked bread with the delicious creaminess of Pepe Saya butter. I tried Pepe Saya for the first time only just over a year ago, and I’m a convert – it’s a really special treat to have quality bread and butter at a nice restaurant, as opposed to the supermarket bread and butter we have at home.

Karaage quail with oyster cream
Karaage quail with oyster cream

First course was delicate quail legs cooked in a Japanese karaage style with oyster cream (unfortunately one fell over before I could take my photo!). I always think of quail as chicken’s slightly classier cousin, so you could consider this dish a classier version of fried chicken! This was done beautifully though, with a light batter that didn’t overwhelm the tender, juicy and delicate quail meat that was cooked to perfection.

Kangaroo island egg sous vide with duck foie gras, ocean trout roe, kombi seaweed and watercress
Kangaroo island egg sous vide with duck foie gras, ocean trout roe, kombi seaweed and watercress

Second course was one of my favourites on the night, a Kangaroo Island egg that was a lot more complicated than the simple presentation would have suggested. The egg was removed carefully from its shell, combined with rich duck foie gras, sous vide’d until the egg cooked through and put back into the egg shell before being topped with roe, nori, and watercress. There was really just something about the decadent fatty foie gras goodness combined with the burst of flavour from the roe that combined in my mouth to create paradise.

Zucchini flowers with ricotta, egg yolk and olives
Zucchini flowers with ricotta, egg yolk and olives

Third course was zucchini flowers with ricotta. I find that most restaurants tend to stuff then fry their zucchini flowers, however Restaurant Atelier opt for a fresher style, somewhat deconstructed on the plate. The ricotta worked really well with the tiny slivers of olive, with the salty flavours of the olive complementing the smooth creaminess of the ricotta.

South Australian sashimi grade calamari slow cooked at 40 degrees with celery, French breakfast radishes, gailan flowers and chilli threads
South Australian sashimi grade calamari slow cooked at 40 degrees with celery, French breakfast radishes, gailan flowers and chilli threads

This was a really unusual dish for me – I’ve never eaten squid that’s been slow cooked on a low temperature for so long that it doesn’t actually turn white. The translucent calamari was outstanding, and had really absorbed a lot of flavour throughout the slow-cooking process. This dish did reignite K’s desire to buy a sous vide machine though, and he ended up supporting a Kickstarter project for a “Sansaire immersion circulator“!

Grilled yellowfin tuna on a bed of quinoa with baby choysum, fried chicken tail, a quenelle of burnt aubergine and kimchi butter
Grilled yellowfin tuna on a bed of quinoa with baby choysum, fried chicken tail, a quenelle of burnt aubergine and kimchi butter

With the fifth course, we start moving into the heavier mains – a tuna dish in this case. While the piece of tuna was lightly grilled, I actually liked how it maintained a level of fresh rawness in the texture of the meat as it worked well with the burst of fatty oils from the fried chicken tail. Simply exquisite.

Wagyu beef with baby carrots and turnip, caulfilower puree, raw cauliflower and chargrilled winter squash
Wagyu beef with baby carrots and turnip, caulfilower puree, raw cauliflower and chargrilled winter squash

As our last savoury dish, we finished on wagyu beef cooked with a selection of winter root vegetables. I don’t tend to be a big fan of raw vegetables (cooked! always cooked!), but I actually found that the the thinly sliced cauliflower worked really well with the wagyu beef. While you get that rich marbled smoky melt-in-your-mouth beef, the raw cauliflower adds the texture that wagyu often lacks.

For our first dessert course, we had mitsuba jelly with calamanci sorbet, beetroot reduction and peanut brittle. Where is the photo of this delicious concoction I hear you ask? I can only confess – it was a dessert of such exquisite beauty and subtle sweet flavours that I frankly forgot to take a photo before I demolished the whole dish. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Chocolate ganache souffle with yoghurt ice-cream and pepper berry milkshake with a chocolate straw
Chocolate ganache souffle with yoghurt ice-cream and pepper berry milkshake with a chocolate straw

We finished our dining extravaganza with a ridiculously fluffy chocolate souffle – the type that you crack open to find the finest and most aerated insides. Prompted by our waitress, we dug a well into the chocolate souffle before pouring in the pepper berry milkshake to create a delicious peppery chocolate concoction. that was offset by a simple yoghurt ice-cream.

Clutching our full and aching bellies, we bid farewell to Chef Templeman and his team who had more than surpassed our expectations, and delivered course after course of delicious and innovative modern French food with a slight Japanese twist.

Overall I rate Restaurant Atelier a 9 out of 10. Don’t let the lack of recognition from the Good Food Guide fool you – I rate it on the same level as my experience at Pilu at Freshwater which boasts two hats. The prices are more than reasonable at $100pp for a 10 course dinner on Friday and Saturday nights (add $70 for matching wines).

Restaurant Atelier on Urbanspoon

Review: Allure on Currumbin, Gold Coast

On our trip to the Gold Coast a few months ago, K and I dined at Allure on Currumbin. I had made the reservation a few weeks earlier, wanting to dine somewhere nice while we were up there. I knew that for the most part our meals would be be quick, cheap and nasty, as we spent most of our time at theme parks where we were eating the food they had on offer – burgers, fries, and soft drinks. At the very least, I wanted one nice meal!

I definitely got what I was looking for at Allure on Currumbin, though it looked somewhat nondescript from the outside. Nestled in a quiet suburb about twenty minutes from Surfers Paradise, it’s in a small strip of local shops. It’s not where you would imagine you would find a hatted restaurant serving amazing food.

We arrived late after getting off our evening flight. Shown immediately to an intimate table, our waiter was incredibly efficient. He brought our drinks, took our orders, and before we knew it, our entrees were delivered to our table seemingly within ten minutes.

allure on currumbin

Deep fried camembert with cranberry chutney and garnish
Seared ocean scallops on confit pork belly 

My deep fried camembert was delicious – nice and crispy on the outside, and beautifully melted on the inside. With the cranberry chutney, it made for a beautiful composition of sweetness and cheesiness that simply melted in your mouth. K’s seared ocean scallops on confit pork belly was cooked beautifully, but I found the sauce quite rich and heavy.

allure on currumbin

Chicken breast filled with lobster and king prawns, roasted garlic, chives and peppercorn sauce, with truffled mash and snow peas
Slow roasted rack of lamb on truffled mash and carrot with creamed baby spinach and shallot jus

I had to switch the vegetable component of my chicken breast, as it was originally supposed to be roast potatoes. However, given the late hour that we were dining, they had run out of roast potatoes, and so I switched it for the truffled mash instead…but wow, what a great switch! I’m a massive fan of truffles and truffle oil, but I also know it can be quite hard to get a truffle mash right – striking the right balance between mash and truffles is difficult. Allure on Currumbin did it really well – it was an absolutely beautiful meal! They kept the skin of the chicken nice and crispy as well, with the meat remaining moist and tender. It takes a master hand to do that! K’s lamb was very strong in flavour – beautiful for those who enjoy that distinctive lamb taste.

allure on currumbin

Selection of home made sorbets and fresh seasonal fruit in a spun toffee basket

We shared a dessert, as we were very full by the time we got to the third course. This was a really beautiful dessert – nice and fresh, which made a nice change after the richer and heavier entrees and main meals we had. The home-made sorbets were refreshing, with my personal favourites being the blood orange and the watermelon. The crisp apple slices helped to add some texture to the meal. We didn’t eat much of the toffee basket because there were so much of it.

All components of the meal were really well done (and the dessert! oh my god the dessert!) and the service at the restaurant was attentive without being overwhelming. For your next trip to the Gold Coast, I recommend Allure on Cullumbin as a reasonably priced hatted restaurant for a good, tasty meal that’s designed to satisfy, not to shock.

Overall, I rate Allure on Currumbin an 8.5 out of 10.

Allure on Currumbin on Urbanspoon