Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sepia Restaurant - Schweppes Fancy Food Fight

The thing about coincidences, is that they're so coincidental. I was heading up to Sydney for a holiday already. Then I get an invite to attend a function in Sydney. The sender knew I was in Melbourne, but sent the invite just in case I happen to be up in Sydney. Low and behold, I said I would be there in a couple of weeks time. Before I knew it, I had a chance to dine at Sepia Restaurant, voted Sydney's best restaurant by the Sydney Good Food Guide 2014 as the Restaurant of the Year. Sepia was on my list of places to dine in Sydney, so it was all perfect. The meal I would be having at Sepia was in celebration of Schweppes Australia Mineral Water Range, where they worked with Sepia head chef Martin Benn for him to develop dishes inspired by the mineral water for the Fancy Food Fight campaign. The menu that Martin came up with is below, and the accompanying ad is so much fun.

Pumpkin, parmesan and rosemary sloop
Inspired by Schweppes Apple & Pink Grapefruit Mineral Water

Chilled spiced squidgy tomatoes and baby basil
Inspired by Schweppes Natural Mineral Water

Beetroot and goats cheese and rye tart surprise
Inspired by Schweppes Orange & Mango Mineral Water

Super sticky soba noodle prawns, rice wine and lime vinaigrette
Inspired by Schweppes Lemon & Lime Mineral Water

Golden eggs, pickled ginger cream and persimmon
Inspired by Schweppes Orange & Passionfruit Mineral Water

Yuzu and raspberry grenades
Inspired by Schweppes Lemon & Lime Mineral Water

The Ultimate mango custard tart
Inspired by Schweppes Orange & Mango Mineral Water

Schweppes Mineral Water Jelly
Inspired by all Schweppes Mineral Water Flavours

You can find the behind the scenes videos on the making of the ad on the Schweppes Youtube page.

For my particular meal, I would get to try the golden egg, which at the time I knew nothing about how it was yet and it all sounded so exciting. I also got to sample some of the Sepia menu and they were as below:

Tuna tartare starter

Nori rolled sea scallops, avocado cream, pickled ginger, puffed sushi rice
Served with Schweppes Lemon and Lime Mineral Water

House made chevré, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets
Served with Schweppes Orange and Mango Mineral Water

Hatcho miso wagyu rump, sea urchin and wasabi butter, grilled onions and shallots, chestnut mushroom fried potato and kombu crumb
Served with Schweppes Orange and Mango Mineral Water

Golden eggs, pickled ginger cream and persimmon
Served with Schweppes Orange and Passionfruit Mineral Water

“Autumn chocolate forest”
Soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond praline, lavender and honey cream, blackberry sorbet caramel and shiso vinegar jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs, crystallised fennel fronds, shiso buds
Served with Schweppes Mineral Water

I'd seen photos of Sepia online before, but it still didn't make it easy to find. The unobtrusive (at least to me) front door had me looking around for a while until I finally spotted it. I did look with "guy eyes", which meant straight ahead and no awareness at all of anything else in my vision. I was warmly greeted once inside by the hostess, who took my umbrella (ella eh eh eh eh eh ehhhhh) and showed me to my table. The room is very beautiful, dominated by the huge bar and in quite a strange semi circle layout. It definitely felt intimate though. I loved the decor and late found out from Vicki Wild (wife of Martin and owner) that the beautiful tile floors were flown in from Italy and then cut to the shape using three different coloured tiles and hand laid by a master tiler. Stunning.

My meal started with bread and butter. Meh you say. OMG I had to stop myself from gobbling up 3 more bread rolls with butter because it was amazingly delicious. The bread was soft and had the most wonderful flavour. And then that butter, oh man. It rivals the Vue de Monde butter. This butter was smooth, creamy, had a hint of sourness right at the end and super fragrant. I had to find out what was in the butter. And after asking the waiter, I found that it was house made butter from creme fraiche with truffle salt. Magic.

So once I got over the butter, I was served the tuna tartare starter, which was good. The first course was then the Nori scallops. I didn't know what to make of this at first but once I started eating it, it was like a deconstructed sushi rolls. The flavour, and especially the texture, of the scallop were wonderful and I love the avocado cream and ginger gels with it.

Next dish up was my equal favourite dish of the night. A house made chevre was served with textures of beetroot and rhubarb. Goodness me, the layers of different textures melted away in your mouth as well as having some crunch. It was just something so unexpected and so good. The beetroot butter and jelly were just heaven. I need that to eat with my chevre going forward.

The next dish was the David Blackmore Wagyu with mushrooms. Thin layers of wagyu were perfectly cooked and that sea urchin butter was umami goodness. The dish was quite rich by the end but overall a stunning dish.

It then came time to try the Golden Egg. This beautiful gold glittered egg was presented standing up in the middle of my plate, dusted with gold powder all around it. I cracked it open and this yolk and white came oozing out. So much fun. It really looked like an egg and some awesome yolkporn. It was really tasty too besides looking good. I didn't eat all of the shell though as that was all sugar I think and really sweet.

Lastly to end the night, I was served Sepia's signature dish, the Autumn Chocolate Forest. This dessert was my other equal favourite of the night (it was so hard to choose which was my favourite) and is going to feature in my all time favourite desserts list. When I started to eat it, I kept getting different layers, textures and flavours that kept changing depending on which elements I happen to have in my mouth. The super cold sorbet worked really well to cut through every element, with three layers of cream contrasted with all these things that were crunchy, chewy and had really distinct flavours. I didn't even mind the small amounts of licorice in this dish. A superb dish and a great way to end the meal. I was going to explode by this dish and had to sit very still sipping plain mineral water for quite a while before I could move.

Overall, I loved this meal so much and would put it right up with with a handful of the best meals I've ever eaten. The food was exceptional but also the mood and ambiance was lovely in that restaurant. You can't fault the service, even when one waitress sheepishly smiled and told me she forgot one element in the wagyu dish. I'd forget too given how complex the dishes are. If you get a chance, I highly recommend you go and dine at Sepia, and have your own fancy food fight.

I dined courtesy of Schweppes. Thanks so much to the wonderful team at Sepia for looking after me all night. Thanks Lucy from Haystac for organising the meal.


  1. What a happy coincidence you were in Sydney! The Golden Egg sounds incredible - such elaborate construction in all of Martin's dishes.

  2. Wow what a lucky coincidence - it sounds fantastic. The Golden Egg is so cool, so the shell is all made from sugar? I wonder how they make it.

  3. I think Sepia's one of those restaurants that's on everyone's "must try" list - you're so lucky that you got invited to go!