The popularity of the daily deal / group buying websites has been fantastic for the hubby and I in trying out lots of fantastic restaurants at a fraction of the price. The hubby called me a few weeks ago very excited that Ouffer was offering a Bistro Lilly degustation deal - $89 for a 5 course seafood degustation menu for 2, including a glass of wine / sparkling each. It was fantastic value when considering that it is normally $89 for a 6 course degustation! As the hubby had, some time ago, read some flattering reviews of Bistro Lilly and had always been eager to give it a shot, this deal was perfect for us, and on a windy Friday night, we went with high hopes for a lovely meal.
First and foremost, the service was very attentive and lovely - the waitstaff did not at all differentiate in how they treated us as a deal buyer and the table next to us who came in off the street and paid for the full price degustation. The restaurant itself is in a bit of a dead location, hidden away at the base of Observatory Tower on Kent St, a very quiet part of town. When we arrived, right on time for our reservation, the restaurant was completely empty. A few tables ambled in later, but it was still very quiet for a Friday evening which affected the ambiance.
Once seated, we were shown the menu listing the dishes that comprised of the degustation. The menu itself contained a number of cross-selling opportunities - offering an extra dish to make it 6 courses, matching wines, side dishes to accompany the main, etc. The hubby and I didn't order the additional course, nor the matching wines as we're non-drinkers, but we did order a side of some vegetables: green beans with preserved lemon, mint and marinated feta.
First course: Amuse bouche - Provencale fish soup with crouton, with sourdough bread and whole roasted garlic
Served in a little tea cup, I found the soup a bit too salty and... dare I say it, fishy, for my liking. This is an unusual reaction for me as I'm not someone who has ever said that before - I am always happy eating seafood of any kind and variety. The bread was lovely - warm and pillowy soft inside. I loved the idea of the whole roasted garlic though - peeled, roasted and then the top sliced off, the garlic was so soft and lovely to spread over the bread.
Second course: Alaskan King Crab Cakes, sweet corn, finger fennel and basil
I was looking forward to this as I love crab and I love crab cakes! Arranged very prettily on the plate, this was lovely to eat - the crab cake was moist and seasoned perfectly, and I really enjoyed the fennel with it.
Third course: House smoked king salmon & ricotta cannelloni, preserved lemon, dill and tomato
This was the dish that I probably enjoyed the least alongside the amuse bouche. Normally a fan of cannelloni, salmon and ricotta, this course should have ticked all of my boxes. The salmon and ricotta was almost mousse-like, and quite delicious but I found the cannelloni casing to be a little rubbery in texture. The tomato sauce that accompanied the dish was very tasty, and if the cannelloni could just be tweaked a little bit, it would have made for a fabulous course.
Fourth course: Port Lincoln pink snapper, prawn and leek rotollo, saffron and orange
When this course arrived, I loved how it looked on the plate! The fish was cooked really well, but I thought it required a little more seasoning. The citrus in the dish perfectly cut through the richness of the prawn and leek rotollo and it made for a satisfying main.
As a side, the hubby and I had also ordered green beans with marinated feta, mint and preserved lemon - and this was delicious!!!! We ate the whole plate and I would have happily eaten more but for the fact that by this stage I was quite full and glad that it was only dessert next!
Fifth course: Chef's dessert of the day
The menu left the dessert open ended and a bit of a mystery. On arrival the waiter had advised that the dessert was espresso creme brulee, and I was quite disappointed. I rank creme brulee up there with pannacotta when it comes to desserts at restaurants - token, made in advance and easy to dish up with little effort. I found that this dessert was exactly all of those things, and after a spoonful, was content to leave the rest.
Overall, I found that the experience to be really average. The location, the atmosphere, the quality of the dishes - it was all ok but nothing outstanding. As a dessert person, I was really let down by what was served up - yummier things can and have been made at home. In terms of value, it is good value in comparison to the full price degustation, but not good value when I compare it to the daily deal the hubby and I had at Etch last week (see earlier post).
After we try somewhere new, the hubby and I always engage in a post mortem. Would we come back? No. Why not? Although solid in quality, we believe that we are quite spoilt for choice in dining options in Sydney. Restaurant patrons could get better quality food, with a better atmosphere, elsewhere for the same price - even with the deal. It may not be a 5 course degustation, but then it begs the question - quality or quantity?
For us, the answer to that one is easy...