Thursday, December 15, 2005

Restaurant Assiette, Albion St, Surry Hills

Restaurant Assiette, Albion St, Surry Hills
Thursday 15 December, 2005

I'd heard this is one of Sydney's best kept secrets. Well, what an experience. Warren Turnbull has created an intimate restaurant with incredible food and understated decor (I love the knife, fork and spoon images) - take note Sydney. What a shame the service started off sooooooo bad and only improved marginally.

On arrival we were 'greeted' by someone who treated us as more of an inconvenience than paying guests. Strike one.

There were six of us dining and apparently we were sitting in the service void. To put it bluntly the wait staff did not acknowledge our presence. We tried ordering drinks, then tried again and finally got some service but only half of our order was delivered to the table. After almost 20 minutes of this one of my dining companions who shall remain nameless (you know who you are) starting waving her hands wildly in the air and called out 'would it be possible to get some service or are we seated in the service vortex' or words to that effect. Strike two.

Well, this changed everything. Our waiter kicked into service mode and acknowledged that if he had been dining here he would have caused a bigger scene that what our table had. Orders were taken, drinks appeared and the butter was replenished. About time...

What a shame the other two wait staff treated the guests so appallingly - I mean seriously, how hard is it? We all have bad days but two out of three wait staff (both female) having a meltdown is unacceptable. Put a smile on your face, treat customers with respect, take the order & deliver the order to the table. Done.

Before our entrees arrived, we were delivered a complimentary starter that was almost thrown at us. After she had thrown the starter at three of us & we had reacted with 'are you serious?' The other three arrived and were slammed down on the table while she muttered what it was. I honestly could not tell you tell what it was. We tried to ask but she had marched off. Strike three.

Sadly, the food is faultless. I was in food heaven. For entree I devoured the roast quail with onion bhaji, parsnip, lentils and a curry veloute - simply divine. Some of my friends ordered the carpaccio of kingfish with a spring roll of crab and a chilli & avocado vinaigrette and it melted in your mouth, the blend of flavours with coriander was exquisite.

For main the table ordered four x roasted veal fillet with caramelised veal sweetbreads, mushrooms, asparagus & almond foam and two x confit pork belly and roasted pork fillet with colcannon, apple puree and pork jus. The pork belly was incredibly tender and again melted in your mouth and the grain fed veal was beautifully presented and had a lovely flavour (which I was informed by one of my foodie friends would have been ruined if the veal was milk fed). We also ordered some sides of baby beans with confit shallots. Absolutely delicious.

Our main waiter tried his utmost to win us back in the service stakes. He chatted about the quality of the produce used (his knowledge was very limited) & referred to the chef for some of our more complex questions. There is no sommelier on staff which is a shame as some of the wine on the menu is seriously pricey and it would have been nice to discuss this with someone who understands how to match food & wine.

Overall, Assiette is a foodie's paradise. I would go back in a heartbeat for the food but until they address the lack of service - I could not in good conscience recommend it to anyone.

Restaurant Assiette - 48 Albion Street, Surry Hills - (02)92127979


Anonymous Jane said...

Steph, love the site! You write so well and enjoyed reading the review of Assiette and also of Tetsuyas. Love the layout, the black background, the pictures. It looks so professional.

My only comment would be that I'm much more relaxed and forgiving about service and wasn't as put off by the initial vortex at Assiette. You guys have been spoilt by fantastic service and have come to expect that but to me it's a bonus. If it's not there it's annoying but not a killer. That said when compared to the service at Tetsuyas it was abysmal but you're comparing a $90 experience with a $250 experience. Assiette was very reasonably priced, but if it's putting itself out there as a top Sydney restaurant I agree it's spot on with the food but has a ways to go on service. Such a shame.

9:49 am  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Steph fantastic or should I call you Ruth!!!

I am a bit like jane and a bit more forgiving on the lack of service to start with...I actually thought poor staff only 3 on and a full restuarant.. therefore I would blame management for not putting on enough staff and totally agree if they had a sommiler then the other staff can concentrate of serving food. But I can not forgive the attitude of the 2 women...the dark headed on reminds my of that sour puss from 4 weddings and a funeral you know the skinny one who had the crush on Hugh.

The chefs were so polite and when you walked past all 3 said hello to me...even though they were going at a frantic pace...what a shame the 2 bitches are letting done all their hard work.

10:12 am  

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