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Wonderful meal at Restaurant Arras, Walsh Bay

Restaurant Arras is one of the many restaurants that I love in Sydney. I have been here many times now, usually for lunch with work, which means no photos and no cameras. So when C, my eating partner in crime suggested this place for dinner one night, I couldn’t say no. But then again, I have never said no to dine out!

Restaurant Arras is located in Walsh bay, in a former bond store and has been awarded one hat in the SMH Good Food Guide in 2008, 2009 and 2010. I love the historic building – very old, very heritage looking and I love the exposed bricks.

Whilst perusing the menu, we were presented with complimentary bread sticks which was olive twists and house spiced almonds. I loved the house spiced nuts – crunchy with a nice spicy kick at the end. The olive twist was also wonderful but the nuts won me over, only cause I am a sucker for almonds.

We started with bread, which are all made on the premises, a choice of onion bread, malted sourdough, or fruit bread. I couldn’t go pass the sourdough, soft and fluffy on the inside with a crunchy crust. Smothered with butter it was oh so yummy! I love fresh warm bread.

Amuse bouche – beetroot jelly with beetroot and avocado. Two of my favourite foods on the one plate. The beetroot jelly was deliciously light and refreshing, the avocado a wonderful complement. Unfortunately, C wasn’t a huge fan of the edible flowers, but I thought this was excellent and a wonderful start to what was to come.

C and I opted for the Crab Eggy Bread, Dressed Crab, Jelly and Custard ($31) – it was beautifully presented. The French toast was deliciously soft and mushy and the ‘sausage’ of crab meat wrapped in gelatine was incredible. Beautifully cooked, however, C thought it was somewhat ruined by the herbs mixed in it.

Here is a close up of the crab eggy bread and ‘sausage’ of crab

I love the caviar like balls of jelly and a puddle of custard. It was very well seasoned and flavoursome.

J couldn’t go pass the plate for Mr. McGregor ($32), he didn’t know what it was and didn’t want to know. When the dish arrived, I thought it was one of the most colourful dishes I have seen in a while. Rabbit cooked in three different ways on a plate of dots of puree, leaves and flowers. I didn’t have any of this, as I was too engrossed in my crab eggy bread, but J seemed to have enjoyed it.

For mains, C and I opted for the same thing – pork belly, whey, head cheese and rice ($46) and OH MY GOODNESS! Where do I start?

The slab of pork was incredible, tender and succulent that it just melted in my mouth. I loved the top layer of crumbed crackle. To the right, potato and leek terrine, thinly sliced potatoes cooked to perfection. The crackle straw was ingenious and awesomely good. Underneath it was shreds of flesh taken from the head of the pig which was sandwiched between two thin discs of gelatine – mouth watering! Each mouthful was better than the next, I really didn’t want it to end. I love how the pork belly came with crackle which was prepared in three different ways: straw crackle, deep-fried as a ‘cracker’ and crumbed crackle – EPIC! Who doesn’t love crackle? I wish there were more of it though. C and I definitely enjoyed this dish.

J on the other hand, ordered the Ta, Jean ($34), tajine, vegetarian dish. Different types of vegetables which sat on a puree of avocado. It looked wonderful, however, C was glad that he didn’t order that as he would definitely not have enjoyed it.

It came with a side of custard, which wasn’t sweet but complemented the Ta, Jean well.

Pre-dessert was cherry and cashew trifle. I had expected the dessert to be served in a bowl or a shot glass like a trifle would. It was served on a plate, thinly sliced cherries which sat on a bed of crumbs and drizzled with cherry sauce and cashews. It was refreshingly light and not as sweet as I had thought. It was delicious and a great palate cleanser.

C and J couldn’t go pass revel in it ($20) – underneath that foam and chocolate sauce was balls of chocolate filled with orange creme, honeycomb, toffee, coffee, raisins or maltesers.

C absolutely enjoyed this – he couldn’t stop and popped them one by one in his mouth.

Now the moment we have all been waiting for. Arras’s legendary petit fours platter – WOW. It was a glorious sight and one that I have always looked forward to. Impressive rows of chocolate, jellies, toffees and honeycomb lined up. I was in awe that I didn’t really hear what the waiter said as he rattled the names of every piece.

I was trying not to be greedy, opted for five things which unfortunately I didn’t get to finish. Honeycomb, crunch chocolate with coconut, chocolate with cream inside (which I didn’t enjoy), fluffy aero mint chocolate and peanut praline. My favourite would definitely have to be honeycomb.

C’s petit fours – I couldn’t believe he demolished it all! He did say that he was totally and utterly full!

Stuffed to the max, we all walked back to the city. It was a walk that we all needed!

Restaurant Arras did not disappoint. Both Adam Humphrey and Lovaine Allen, owner and chef have done an extremely well with this establishment.  It was better than I remembered it to be. Service excellent, food EPIC! I definitely look forward to going back again when they move to their new premises which will be on Clarence Street (where Becasse used to be) in either June or July 2011.

GA’s rating: 9 / 10

C’s ratings: 9 / 10

Restaurant Arras

24 Hickson Rd Walsh Bay

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9252 6285

Restaurant Arras on Urbanspoon

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