The din of bustling and rushing cars combined with sharply pitched pedestrian crossing indicators quickly fade on the walk to the famed Assiette Restaurant. Nestled just outside of the busy Elizabeth St, the establishment has been awarded a prestigious two hats in the Australian Good Food Guide, a fine accolade.
The door opens and you are greeted by a well spoken, impeccably groomed maître d' who ushers you to a table. The 12pm reservation means customers were scarce, but out of the corner of my eye, five chefs in the corner of the restaurant were busily preparing for the inevitable rush of locals and CBD business men and women that were to follow.
I was in attendance for the Friday lunch set menu, $35 for 3 courses, a bargain considering the elegance of the restaurant and the fact that a main course is normally more expensive than the entire meal combined.
The service was fantastic and the 90s music murmuring in the background made for an extremely relaxed, casual atmosphere. The bread rolls promptly arrive; football shaped at the top, with the underside completely flat, lightly speckled in salt and slightly charred at both ends. Crack it open, and an immediate crunch emanates from the core and resounds to the other side of your table. This is just the beginning of the wonderful experience.
Having never been to a restaurant of this calibre, I was buzzing with anticipation to see the presentation of the entrées, mains and desserts. I ordered the confit of chicken leg with warm salad of kipflers and boudin, a wonderful starter. The chicken slid smoothly down the bone; degrees of savoury flavour and a plethora of textures dance around in your mouth. The crispiness of the chicken skin and the tenderness of the meat balance the soft, creamy potatoes laced in chives.
The main consisted of 12 hour roasted shoulder of Castricum lamb with cous cous, fetta and mint, a fair main, but was not as commendable as the entrée. The lamb was cooked to an impeccable medium rare, however the fetta overpowered the cous cous and therefore ended up a bit dry.
Lastly, the dessert was an eton mess with raspberry sorbet, Assiette saving their best for last. Beautifully presented in a cocktail glass, a raspberry sorbet ball is encircled by crumble and swirls of red and white, topped off with a lovely purple violet. The array of sweet and sour intensities make the eton mess an absolute winner, an exquisite finish to the meal.
Make sure to book in two or three weeks beforehand, a small price to pay for a quiet Friday lunch of this quality and cost.
Assiette is open on Friday, 12-3pm for lunch and Tuesday to Sunday, from 6pm for dinner.