Modern techniques meet classic flavours for exceptional result!
Value for Money: 8/10
My partner and I felt an urge to return to Marque after watching Mark Best at the World Chef Showcase. Despite sharing the stage with the passionate Massimo Bottura and the ever-entertaining Jordi Roca, Mark Best made quite an impression. So, what drove us back to Marque despite the slight disappointment of our first visit two years ago? A philosophy focussed on produce and sustainability, a passion for labour-intensive, well-crafted food, and a drive to use modern techniques to enhance classic dishes, ingredients and flavours. There is no confusion of the senses at Marque – an asparagus tastes like an asparagus, only better!
The room is cosy enough, the staff warm and helpful without being intrusive, and the tunes of the 80’s great classic hits unexpected and probably out of place, but enjoyable nonetheless. There isn’t anything flash enough about the setting to distract the diners away from the food, other than the crystal lustre above our heads and the occasional appearance of Mark Best. Indeed, those facing the street have a rather unpleasant view of bricks and concrete.
Marque is all about understated sophistication. Brace yourselves – what isn’t necessary eye-catching will shake your tastebuds! What impressed me most is Mark Best’s ability to achieve a rare balance between depth and fineness of flavour. The flavours in a dish of Blue Swimmer Crab with Almond Gazpacho, Almond Jelly, Sweet Corn & Arvuga were delicate, yet distinct and easily identifiable.Blue Swimmer Crab with Almond Gazpacho, Almond Jelly, Sweet Corn & Avruga
The smokey flavour in a dish of Tiger Prawn with Avocado, Buttermilk, Hazelnut & Cured Egg Yolk could easily have resulted in a one-dimensional dish, but it instead lifted the other flavours.Tiger Prawn with Avocado, Buttermilk, Hazelnut & Cured Egg Yolk
The piece of lamb in a dish of Spring Lamb with Parsley, confit garlic, Dried Asparagus & Sea Urchin was incredibly rich in flavour, but the other elements on the plate had just the right amount of punch to balance it out.Spring Lamb with Parsley, Confit Garlic, Dried Asparagus and Sea Urchin
My partner’s favourite dish was the Murray Cod with Cabbage, Green Strawberries, Fish Milk and Roe. Interestingly, this was the dish Mark Best presented at the World Chef Showcase. Information does affect perception and yes, we certainly approached this dish differently for knowing its story and the complexity of its preparation. One must praise the philosophy behind this dish. The fish bones are cooked in milk and mixed with roe to create a luscious sauce, the fish skin is dehydrated and deep-fried, and the left-over fish meat is dehydrated and blended to create a fish jerky powder. Waste is reduced to an absolute minimum.Murray Cod with Cabbage, Green Strawberries, Fish Milk and Roe
Dishes aren’t only pretty and flavoursome, they are also incredibly satisfying. I must say that I was somewhat disappointed when the waitress announced a dessert of Camomile with White Chocolate, Yoghurt, Lemon Aspen & Milk Cookie. I was secretly hoping for dark chocolate goodness. What a surprise this was! The aroma of camomile was comforting – like a cup of camomile tea sipped on a cold winter night – and the white chocolate provided the richness expected from a dessert. Near perfection was reached by the addition of the slightly acidic yoghurt and lemon aspen.Camomile with White Chocolate, Yoghurt, Lemon Aspen & Milk Cookie
All of the dishes were fantastic on their own merits, but I thought the matching wines brought them to another level. The match of the Tiger Prawn with Avocado, Buttermilk, Hazelnut & Cured Egg Yolk to a 2010 Sella & Mosca “Terre Bianche 161” Torbato from Sardinia will stick in my memory for years to come.
If you aren’t convinced yet, I’ll give you one more reason to go to Marque: you won’t be able to replicate these dishes at home unless you spend dozen of hours in your kitchen and thousands of dollars on appliances such as a Thermomix and a dehydrater!
- 3 hats according to the SMH Good Food Guide 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013;
- Unique tasting menu for $160 for dinner Monday to Saturday (no “à la carte”);
- Tasting menu can be tailored to cater for dietary requirements;
- Matching wines for $85 as an option. Servings are large enough to share amongst couples;
- Friday lunch, 3 course market menu for $45;
- Bookings can often be made on the day due to regular, last-minute cancellations; and
- Bottled water is no longer on offer at Marque due to environmental concerns. It has been replaced by a chilled, filtered, carbonated water system. $5 per person is added to the bill to support this initiative.
Marque – 5/355 Crown Street, Surry Hills