Sydney’s most flavour-packed seafood. The Masters of Ratios. Vegetarian food also ideal.
MUST ORDER Absolutely everything is outstanding. Gun to my head I’m picking ocean trout; pumpkin; any dessert
WOULD I GO BACK? Again and again
Cirrus is one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney. It suffers from that too-hot, too-bright, Barangaroo-afternoon syndrome, but its interior design and the sea breeze make up for a lot.
Service was very friendly and proficient. My cutlery was replaced with each course, and water was poured regularly. For lunch, it’s mostly a business or older crowd.
I warned them that I was hungry, but if I hadn’t, judging by how they were pacing the people around me, the food was served very slowly, with long breaks between courses. This was intentional (not due to incompetence), but I’m not sure if that makes it worse. Don’t force people to fill up on bread.
On my second visit I did the tasting menu, which is only $110 per person, and great value (6 courses, plus bread; whereas à la carte mains average $45 per dish).
We begin with a very satisfactory version of a dinner roll. The bread roll ($3) is piping hot, steaming and fluffy. The house-made butter melts upon spreading. Not a fan of all the flour coating the roll, which is impractical because the bread can’t be broken without creating a messy flour cloud. I’d prefer a thick, soft rye/sourdough, but this was still good.
Trevally tartare with nashi pear, avocado and nori ($22) has to be one of the prettiest tartares of all time. Loved the ratios between the (slightly too salty) crunchy bread crumbs, piped piles of guac, nori strips and bursts of citrus and sweetness from mini capers. There’s a strange succulent garnish that tastes like a plant you weren’t supposed to eat as a kid. The high edges of the bowl were a bit annoying because it was difficult to obtain all the avocado with a fork. Luckily, I was able to wipe up the leftovers with my bread. Two-hatted smashed avo.
Ocean trout with smoked beetroot, pepperberry and toast ($26) is super rich, and expletive-ly delicious. The trout is cured and steamed, served underneath a smoked beetroot gel that possesses a fascinating texture, like the top of a pâté, and is my favourite element. The flavours resemble a half beetroot, half salmon dip on steroids. The dip is fresh and creamy. The toasts are perfect, light, crunchy and golden (and not too buttery).
Fremantle octopus with yellow pepper, black olive and chorizo oil ($28) was another banger of a dish. The subtle black olive puree (not vinegary) complemented a yellow pepper sauce. Slightly crunchy from the seaweed and the side puffs.
South Australian calamari with black pudding and a padron pepper emulsion ($28) is creamy and chewy, with crunch from dehydrated apple. The pepper adds a light spice. What I thought were crutons were actually black pudding – which was very very hard on the teeth. Looking closely, the whole plate was pattered with black garlic dust.
Roasted king prawns with koji butter ($24) is the best prawn dish I’ve ever eaten. Not too oily; juicy, with a preserved lemon puree, roasted kombu, an incredible kale powder which made the dish.
The scallop tartare will be the best $5 you’ll spend this year.
Cirrus’ vegetarian dishes are some of Sydney’s best. Not surprising, since the owner Brent Savage also owns Yellow. Yellow is the singular hatted vegetarian-only restaurant in Sydney. I could order the roasted pumpkin with pepitas and cavolo nero ($24) over and over. I am anxiously waiting for them to put it back on the menu. It was topped with kale chips, just cooked, and doused in a dreamy pepita and tahini hummus. Jerusalem artichoke with comte and pickled walnut ($24) was similarly outstanding, interesting and beautifully buttery from the comte cheese.
Cirrus’ standards don’t drop with dessert. If anything, they peak. Persimmon with mandarin and frozen yoghurt ($18) is a totally unexpected stand-out dish. I’ve never eaten a dessert with liquorice used like this in the ganache underneath. Semi-dried, freeze-dried mandarin was fresh, cool, crunchy, a but sweet; whereas the persimmon jelly was fleshy and slightly sour. The yoghurt wasn’t sweet at all, with the fermented taste of Jalna. Violet cake with blueberry and buckwheat ($18) is a textural triumph, and so creative (you’ll have to look at the pic below).
Every single dish here is memorable. I think about a lot of them frequently.
Visit dates: November 2017, 20 June 2018.
Order next time: Cirrus (seafood) platter.
Cirrus is located in Barangaroo at the bridge-end of the strip of restaurants on the waterfront.