Marque Restaurant
Shp 4/ 355 Crown St Surry Hills 2010
(02) 9332 2225

Don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious. Excellent, even. But every sentence I began when thinking about the meal ended in a criticism. In essence the problem is that technical excellence is a given at the top level. Creativity, flair and honesty are the hallmarks of the best restaurants, and sadly Marque failed to deliver on these counts.

My entree of Beetroot Tart with Fresh Horseradish Sauce was very tasty, the sweetness of the beetroot nicely complimented by the mouthwatering shortcrust pastry beneath. However it was also a bit one-dimensional, and the horseradish was delivered as a foam which seemed inescapeably pretentious. On the other hand James’ entree of Almond Jelly with Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Prune Oil & Sweet Corn Custard was superb. The crab was delightfully light and was well complemented by the saltiness of the accompanying roe.

The choice of mains was short and definitely not innovative: duck, venison, jewfish, and kangaroo island chicken stick in my mind, and there were one or two other options as well. I chose the Roast Venison with Carrot Confit, sweet and Sour Turnips and Bitter Chocolate. The venison was delivered very rare, with perfectly cooked miniature carrots and turnips and a very sticky jus. Yummy, well presented and faultlessly executed, also totally uninspiring. The best part of the dish was a
shockingly rich dollop of carrot puree.

James had the Roast New England Muscovy Duck with Liquorice, Niçoise Olive Emulsion and Lemon Confit (pictured), which resembled a meat pattie on a stack of vegies. Also delicious, but it didn’t meet the test of “I couldn’t possibly do that at home”. It was quite strange really: like a duck burger without the bread.

And a word about value. At $24-27 for entrees and $39-45 for mains, Marque prices itself at the top of the Sydney food tree. However portions were very small for the money, in my opinion, and I was glad I had eaten a decent home-cooked lunch earlier that day. BYO is a great bonus of this place, but at $10 per bottle it certainly isn’t cheap.

We asked for the dessert menu, but nothing at all on the menu encouraged us to stay. Not even a creme brulee on the list, which would have been lovely. No dessert was definitely a wallet-saver: $18 per dessert, plus drinks starting at $12 a glass. And my armagnac fetish would have brought the cost of that third course to over $40.

In the end we paid $80 a head for two courses, including a modest tip. Not outrageous, but I can think of many other places that offer better value in this town.


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