Review: Marque & Der Raum Collaboration Dinner

Do you know that feeling you get when you read that your favourite singer or your favourite actor is going to collaborate with someone equally as brilliant? The initial rush of excitement is replaced by impatience as the countdown begins to the day you get to sample the fruits of their labour.

I had that same rush of excitement when I heard that Matthew Bax and the team from Der Raum in Melbourne were going to be collaborating with Mark Best and the team at Marque in Sydney for one night only.

Sake, Sparkling Almond, Lime Zest & Barrel Aged Sugar

Der Raum is one of the countries pre-eminent cocktail establishments having won a laundry list of awards both in Australia and Internationally. Their list features nods to classic, often forgotten cocktails and spirits, some of which are made in house as they are no longer produced commercially. Many cocktails are created using modern techniques that wouldn’t be out of place in the kitchens of many hatted or Michelin Starred establishments.

Marque has established a reputation as one of Australia’s top restaurants taking out Gourmet Traveller Magazine’s 2012 restaurant of the year as well as maintaining its 3 hatted rating in the 2012 Sydney Good Food Guide. The restaurant is gaining global recognition as well, rating in San Pellegrino’s top 100 restaurants globally in 2011.

This is why I was excited about this collaboration between a former finance worker (Bax) and a former electrician (Best) as they are both famous for using technique primarily in the service of flavour and texture, not just presentation. Nothing they plate or glass up is superfluous. Every component belongs where it is.

The dinner began with some ceremony as Marque’s amuse bouche of foie gras and olive truffle sandwiched between two large crunchy shards of bonito flavoured crisp was paired with Der Raum’s amuse bouche offering, a small transparent glass teapot filled with a chamomile aperitif, the chamomile flavour having been extracted using the sous vide technique for maximum flavour. The ceremony came from the chamomile vapour, created with the addition of dry ice to the teapot. The vapour when ingested, enhanced the taste of the chamomile by allowing the flavours to be absorbed by smell.

This was followed by a dish of blue swimmer crab, almond gazpacho, almond jelly, a smoothly textured sweet corn custard and Avruga. With this, the Der Raum team had paired a concoction of saké, sparkling almond, lime zest and a barrel aged sugar cube. It was presented to look like a champagne cocktail. The drink was both highly viscous and effervescent with the combination of saké and almond flavours giving the drink an almost medicinal quality.

The seafood continued with a dish of sashimi style yellow fin tuna served with crunchy, bitter cubes of Campari soaked turnip, ruby grapefruit, radish and native pepper berry being followed by a dish of West Australian marron. This was presented as a deconstructed cannelloni with a wafer thin shard of purple wakame, avocado and lemon adding a Japanese tint to the dish. Both dishes were paired with superb wines, the yellow fin tuna with a rich viogner from Geelong and the marron, a French Chardonnay.

Yellow Fin Tuna with Campari Turnip, Ruby Grapefruit, Radish & Native Pepper Berry

When the sommelier returned to the table, he began pouring what I assumed was the next wine, a red out of a wine bottle. What was actually being presented was our next cocktail, a favourite of mine from Der Raum, the Bax Beat Pinot. The drink is a combination of Fernet Branca, a bitter herbal digestive with a distinctively minty flavour rumoured to be the bartenders’ spirit of choice. Here it has been tempered with sweet vermouth, citrus and cold smoked beetroot which gives the drink its distinctive red hue. It is such an inventive combination and mimics the spiciness of a pinot beautifully. If you’re ever in Melbourne, I’d strongly recommend you try this.

Smoked Duck Egg with Sorrel, Green Strawberries, Tea & Toast

The cocktail was paired with a smoked duck egg, slow cooked and stuffed with sorrel, thin slices of green strawberry and flavours of tea and toast. I wish I could have this for breakfast every day. The tartness of the green strawberries was the perfect foil for the rich duck egg.

Pigeon with mullet row was followed by Blackmore grain fed wagyu scotch fillet, thinly sliced and cooked by the heat of the plate. It was topped with freshly grated Japanese wasabi and served with wonderfully gelatinous beef tendon and a pyramid of fresh spring peas.

Blackmore Grain Fed Wagyu Scotch Fillet with Beef Tendon, Wasabi & Spring Peas

We headed into the dessert end of the evening with a Sauternes custard, served in an egg shell.

This was followed by a rather unusual dessert. ‘Tomberries’ strawberry stuffed baby tomatoes with a chocolate jelly and crème fraiche. I don’t know if the dessert really worked for me, but the tomberries reduction with vanilla, sparkling rose and tomato vine aroma was a suitably theatrical end to the meal.

"Tomberries" with Chocolate Jelly & Creme Fraiche

We finished up with petit fours and coffee but I should also make mention of the table water. We opted for sparkling which is produced by Marque’s chilled, filtered carbonated water system. Marque has chosen to use this system due to the environmental impacts of using bottled water. Opinion was divided when this initiative was announced but having tasted the water, I’m in favour. I think it’s a great way to reduce a restaurants carbon foot print and the difference in taste is barely discernable.

Tomberries Reduction with Vanilla, Sparkling Rose & Tomato Vine Aroma

I hope we get to see more collaborations of this calibre. It truly was extraordinary and it was great to have the team from Der Raum in Sydney. I hope we get to see them again here soon.

Marque

4/5 355 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
02 9332 2225

http://www.marquerestaurant.com.au

Der Raum

438 Church St
Richmond VIC 3121
03 9428 0055

http://www.derraum.com.au

Marque on Urbanspoon

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Author:Jeremy Bowell

Jeremy Bowell is the founder and editor of Taste Explorer. He also writes for InsideCuisine.com, TheGrapeHunter.com, SoBadSoGood.com and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section. He is an avid connoisseur of all things food and drink related.