Marque Restaurant Surry Hills Celebrates

Rebecca Varidel
22nd May 2015

If you have eaten at Marque Restaurant Surry Hills you will probably have eaten some of the stunning dishes from the repertoire of Chef Mark Best that were showcased this week in his Sweet 16 retrospective. If you have been eating at Marque Restaurant since it opened in 1999, you may have eaten all twenty two. We joined regular customers and food media to share in three nights of celebrations of the sixteenth anniversary one of Sydney's finest restaurants.

What's interesting in taking an adventure like this in a time machine is grasping one heavenly view of the innovation and evolution of the Chef.

The early dishes of Mark Best reflect his previous time at renowned L'Arpege, Paris. Chaud-Froid Free Range Egg & Grissini travelled from there, and then was reflected in similar dishes around Sydney. The rich unctuous yolk is hidden below an airy white coat, inside its shell, and served with the pencil thin crunch of miniature grissini. Marque has had this and versions of the ethereal Fraser Island Spanner Crab with Almond Jelly, Almond Gazpacho & Avruga on the menu since opening. The crab signature dish in its current form is more complicated than the monochrome palate might suggest.

Best introduced Sydney to dehydration and powders which are now ubiquitously emulated at other restaurants .On this degustustation, powder offsets Darling Down Wagyu with Sauerkraut & Gherkin. Autumn leaves are dried.

In Calamari Risotto, there is no rice. Under a thin blanket of beaten prawn, the secret emerges. The calamari (cut to take the shape of rice) has been softly poached in a cauliflower and leek puree. Divine. Just divine. And again giving us another example of taking the plate past flavour and texture, past a sense of humour, past the monochrome.

Perhaps the most striking example of his culinary prowess is seen in his topsy turvy mix of sweet and savoury, his understanding of flavour, as well of texture. And his wry sense of humour shows through in an erudite demonstration of his knowledge of produce, and of food history.

Take Caramelised Tomato Stuffed with Twelve Flavours & Star Anise Ice Cream: a 1999 dessert offering. Or, the recent dessert creation Parsnip Cornetto, where the ice cream cone is moulded from the vegetable. Or the ping of lemon curd against the sweet flesh of marron.

This extraordinary historic degustation was not just about food. Australian wines representing all states were paired across the dinner. Perhaps the most intriguing wine match was the 1999 Torbrek 'The Steading' Grenache et al - Barossa Valley, South Australia - which may have on paper seemed too heavy for the Rabbit with Cashew & Wakame, the Kipfler Potato, Sea Urchin & Bone Marrow. Yet, the ripe strawberry fizz was in beautiful harmony with wakame, and both created a rich bed for the play of other flavours. 2012 Laughing Jack 'Cane Cut' Semillon - Barossa Valley, South Australia, was a clever inclusion in more ways than one. This sweet dessert wine, not only paired splendidly with the honeycomb and offset the bite in the culture of the cream, but took us over dinner in a full circle - from Semillon to Semillon, as well as extending the theme of dehydration of food, with the dehydration of the grapes when the vines are cut.

1999 - 2015. Sixteen years. Twenty two dishes.

Then coffees and goodbyes. And, of course - congratulations!

Sweet 16

Tomato & Parmesan Marshmallow

Beetroot Macaron

Potato Maxim, Olive Truffle & Foie Gras

Coffin Bay Oyster with Grilled Sea Foam

Chaud-Froid Free Range Egg & Grissini

Fraser Island Spanner Crab with Almond Jelly, Almond Gazpacho & Avruga

Eel with Parmesan Gnocchi & Pumpkin

1999 Mount Pleasant 'Lovedale' Semillon - Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Marron with Vadouvan & Lemon Curd

Calamari Risotto

2012 Quealy Friulano 'Amphorae' - Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Darling Dowsn Wagyu with Sauekraut & Gherkin

Autumn Leaves

1999 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot - Margaret River, Western Australia

Bar Cod with Fish Milk & Scales

2013 Domenica Chardonnay - Beechworth, Victoria

Rabbit with Cashe & Wakame

Kipfler Potato, Sea Urchin & Bone Marrow

1999 Torbreck 'The Steading' Grenache et al - Barossa Valley, South Australia

Holy Goat 'La Luna' with Pineapple & Onion

2012 Sinapius Riesling - Pipers Brook, Northern Tasmania

Honeycomb & Cultured Cream

2012 Laughing Jack 'Cane Cut' Semillon - Barossa Valley, South Australia

Caramelised Tomato Stuffed with Twelve Flavours & Star Anise Ice Cream

Seppeltsfield 'DP57' Grand Tokay - Rutherglen, Victoria

Parsnip Cornetto

Sauternes Custard

Campari Bonbon

Salted Caramel Chocolate

Footnote: Marque Restaurant retired at the end of June 2016.