Sage Taste & Test, Spring 2014

6 Oct

This is my third trip to Sage Dining Room’s clever concept Taste and Test, where in exchange for a slightly cheaper five-course meal – and you’ve no idea what’s coming – you write out a score for each dish and a short ‘review’ of them right onto your paper tablecloth. The test lasts for four weeks, with the menu changing each week. If a dish gets an average score below 6.5-7 or so, it’s not going to make it onto the more permanent seasonal menu.

Here’s a quick look at the menu from 30 September to 2 October and my thoughts – but a quick summary? It’s really good.

 

My kind of starter

As we settle in we’re asked whether we’d like to match some wines (yes – $45 each), and whether we have any dietary requirements (no).

Our first dish is a gazpacho (cold tomato soup) with spanner crab, yoghurt, capsicum and micro celery served in a chilled bowl. This is a great size to start, and the textures and flavours are enough to whet our appetites without overwhelming them. This scores a 9 out of 10 from me. In the middle of the service we’re served complimentary warm bread.

Gazpacho

Next is thinly sliced duck ham with mountain plums, raspberries and parmesan custard in a sweet, jam-like dressing. The sweet dressing contrasts with the saltiness of the duck ham, and the tart raspberries cut through both – this is seriously good. Another 9 out of 10 from me.

Duck ham

It’s time for something a little more substantial: a delicate but strongly flavoured piece of kingfish matched with charred asparagus and asparagus puree, with a ginger foam. I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but this is another delight. The fish is cooked beautifully, the portion size is generous, and the asparagus only enhances the flavours of the fish. You guessed it: another 9 out of 10.

Kingfish with asparagus and ginger foam

The penultimate dish and last of the mains is ash pork loin with pumpkin puree and compressed carrot and onion. The pumpkin puree is super sweet but balances the ash of the juicy loin. I’m no fan of onion generally (que horror!) but otherwise the simplicity of the dish works wonderfully. Can you guess the score? A solid 9 out of 10 again.

Ash pork loin with pumpkin puree

We’re looking forward to the final dish – Sage does desserts very, very well. Unfortunately this one doesn’t live up to our expectations. It’s akin to a sponge cake (I don’t catch the name) soaked in cointreau with ginger and blood orange. The cake element is very dry and the flavours very same-y, and gets a 3 out of 10 from me.

Cointreau cake (?) with ginger and blood orange flavours

Given this is all about testing new dishes, I still find it pretty remarkable – and it underlines the excellent value for money – that four of the five dishes are so, so good. This really is a great concept and I can’t imagine the effort that goes into producing such different dishes each week – but learning exactly what customers want is priceless.

Date: Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Where: Sage Dining Rooms, Gorman House Markets

Cost: $75 each + $45 each for matching wines + $15 sparkling wine

Value for money: High

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? Check out my review from earlier this year, and Spring last year. This Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is the last week of Taste and Test – don’t miss out. Call (02) 6249 6050.

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2 Responses to “Sage Taste & Test, Spring 2014”

  1. Susan October 9, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Oh how I love that place!

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    […] looking forward to, being a devoted reader of In The Taratory and having frequently drooled over T1’s Taste and Test reviews in particular. It seems this is something of a Human Brochure mecca: one group is having drinks in […]

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