Tag Archives: sake

Bringing the Roaring Twenties back at The Alibi

Keep the fat lady waiting because it’s not over yet. Fine dining, I mean, and The Alibi, in all its sleek and sophisticated glory, is proof.

Sitting at the bottom of boutique hotel Morgans on Victoria Street, The Alibi is the brainchild of brothers’ Dane and Alex Bouris. On paper, The Alibi team have a culinary resume to boot – co-head chef Adam Lane has worked at Tetsuyas, Nobu London and Sake while Shimpei Hatanaka (also co-head chef) can rattle off Masterchef, Sushi E and Sake as his former stomping grounds. And the credentials extend from the kitchen to the floor with ex-Merivale employee Andrew Thomas as mixologist and manager Will Smallbone, from Bayswater Brasserie and The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay.  While the Bouris brothers (owners of Morgans) may not have hospitality in their blood, they certainly know how to pull together a good team. But, as we all know, what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate. In this case, however, The Alibi is on the money. From the well-trained wait staff and bartenders to the inspired menu and restaurant aesthetic, The Alibi is out to impress.

Braised pork belly with purple amazu cabbage and umeshu and lemon grass reduction

Boasting a 1920’s jazz-inspired design complete with crystal chandeliers and sleek black trimmings, The Alibi’s space has been well thought out. The tables are spread out – and combined with dimmed lighting – the atmosphere is intimate and moody. No shouting over one another or elbowing the person next to you, a night at The Alibi is a sophisticated affair.

The modern Japanese menu is designed for sharing and while The Alibi doesn’t come cheap, it is money well spent. We start with a selection of starters – the blue swimmer crab betel leaves are subtle in flavour and the delicate mouthfuls provide the prefect appetite stimulator. Scampi spring rolls are pleasant without being memorable however it is the scallop and ocean trout tartare that plays The Alibi’s trump card. Served in a cocktail glass, the ocean trout is doused in white truffle oil, with layers of pureed avocado and topped with a smoky torched-seared scallop.

The hero dish: seared scallop and ocean trout tartare

Roasted Blue Eye cod led us into our mains and while portions are small, each dish is artfully presented. A confit duck breast is pink and sliced on top of braised witlof and white bean, with a mustard soy dressing.  The braised pork belly is the most beautiful dish, with a purple amazu cabbage creating both colour and texture and an umeshu and lemon grass reduction combining all the flavours.

A happy combination of setting, great food, polished service and a well researched wine and cocktail list, The Alibi has a bright future.

Anna Lisle

Read more about The Alibi here

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Filed under Darlinghurst, Reviews, The Alibi

Restaurant Review: Saké Restaurant & Bar

In 2009, Terry Durack reviewed Saké Restaurant & Bar, saying: “we now have our Nobu Sydney, only better”. Three years down the track, we have Nobu Perth and a mass of other big Japanese restaurant, which leads us to ask, is Saké Restaurant & Bar still that good?

If you go by the fact that it has retained a Chef Hat every year since its opening, then yes. But is the ‘Hat Criteria’ what everyone still desires of their dining experience? The recent shift towards more casual and accessible bistro-style restaurants suggests otherwise. We decided to head to the historic Rocks to find out what Saké Restaurant & Bar offers in 2012.

The sleek interior

At the heart of Saké Restaurant & Bar is Executive Chef Shaun Presland, so a review would not be complete without a brief look at his career. A proud Queenslander, Shaun is now one of Australia’s pre-eminent chefs of Japanese cuisine. His career began in a Ryokan in the mountains of central Japan, where he crafted the skills of the traditional local cuisine. Returning to Australia, he joined the Merivale clan, setting up Sushi-e and later, Ivy Teppanyaki and Sushi Choo. He then headed to the Bahamas where he became executive sous-chef at one of the famous Nobu restaurants. Backed by the omnipotent The Bavarian Hospitality Group (BHG), Saké Restaurant & Bar was born in 2009 with Shaun as Executive Chef. 12 months later, the Sydney Saké was awarded a Chef’s Hat and Brisbane became the home for another Saké restaurant. The evolution of Saké is the ultimate restaurant success story.

Chef Shaun Presland and Chef Shinichi Maeda (from Saké Restaurant & Bar Brisbane)

If you want a traditional sushi bar, then Saké Restaurant & Bar is not for you. It is sleek and modern – with chefs scuttling around wearing red-and-white chequered bandanas and a menu that features popcorn chicken. With various dining spaces – including four exclusive dining rooms, communal banquet tables, sushi bar seating and also a traditional Japanese sunken table – Saké Restaurant & Bar is adaptable and dynamic. The staff, while efficient, border on being overbearing and pretentious. However, the menu will exceed the expectations of even the most fastidious lover of Modern Japanese cuisine. The kingfish and salmon sushi cannot be faulted, the miso marinated butterfish lettuce cups offer a refreshing Japanese take on san choy bow while the teriyaki Wagyu 7+ skewers is beyond tender. The spicy eggplant kushiyaki isn’t memorable however the ‘S express’ sushi roll, filled with scallops, seared salmon and spicy mayo, is the pinnacle of my Saké Restaurant & Bar appreciation.

Anna Lisle

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Read more about Saké Restaurant & Bar here

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Filed under Saké Restaurant & Bar, The Rocks, Uncategorized