Bentley, Surry Hills

I had been scouting for a restaurant worthy of a special occasion dinner and was coming up empty handed.  After a lot of browsing and googling, my friend and I decided to try Bentley in Surry Hills.  With two Chef's Hats and a long list of awards listed on Bentley's website, my expectations were high - and how could it go wrong?

I made a reservation online for a Friday night dinner and Bentley called to double confirm on the day of booking. 

When we got there, the staff were very welcoming and the restaurant was quite full.  It was very, very dark inside - I am not a fan of restaurants with such extreme darkness.  It means you can't see the food!  I want to be able to see what I'm eating - especially if I'm paying for a high end meal.  As it was, I had to use the camera flash to take these photos and after taking each one, squinted at the screen to see what the dish looked like.  And a few times, my first picture was completely off centre because I missed half the plate.  Dislike dark restaurants!

We decided to try the $120 Retrospective Tasting Menu which featured dishes from Bentley's past. We started off with some drinks (not included in set menu price) and sourdough bread.

Pimms cocktail ($17) and Virgin Mojito ($8)

Sourdough and olive oil

The plates came out in steady succession although some took noticeably longer than others to arrive.  As it was a tasting menu, all of the dishes were quite small in size. 

Smoked Eel Parfait 
with white soy dressing

The eel parfait was very creamy inside and the flavour reminded us both of smoked salmon.  As you can see, the presentation of the plate is very pretty but completely useless in a dark restaurant!  Also I was fumbling a bit to figure out where to find the various bits and pieces were on the plate.

with roe, juniper and baked potato broth

When the waiter described the kingfish as being served with roast potato broth, I thought it sounded delicious.  Unfortunately the broth did not make me salivate at all - I couldn't taste the roast potato.  I did taste some root vegetable flavour but not the punch that I expected. I didn't like the baby radish served whole on the plate either - was hard and felt out of place.

Blue Eye Trevalla
with green garlic and jamon

The Blue Eye Trevalla was my friend's favourite dish of the night.  The fish flaked off nicely and the garlic sauce was a nice accompaniment. 

Spiced Heirloom Carrot
with pistachio, yoghurt and black olive

 I did not enjoy the spiced heirloom carrot plate, the dish tasted like a lightly spiced curry sauce with some vegetable peelings.  There were small yoghurt cubes covered in dehydrated black olives that added a sourness to the dish. 

Pork Belly
with wattle, garlic milk and rhubarb

 The pork belly was a bit lacklustre.  The meat leaned to the softer side without a particularly crunchy crackling.  There wasn't anything on the plate for me to rave about.

with red chard, horseradish and soy beans

My friend had requested an alternative to the pork belly dish and received the vegetarian option instead.  She said it was pleasant.
Roasted Duck Breast
with mushroom, cuttlefish and kombu

 The duck breast was overly chewy and lacking in flavour.  I did like the tiny pieces of cuttlefish which tasted very fresh.

Beer Sorbet
with caramelised pineapple and barley cream

As you would know, I am a dessert lover but this beer sorbet was so unpleasant!  The best thing on the plate was the scattered crumble.  I left half of this on my plate.

Liquid Mandarin
with liquorice and mandarin ice cream

The liquid mandarin dessert was much better but also did not blow me away.  The chocolate tube opened with a crack to ooze out a thin mandarin gel. 

Overall, we both found the meal to be hugely disappointing.  None of the dishes blew us away and it was like we kept waiting for the next dish to be spectacular.   Were my tastebuds off on this night?  Why was everything so bland?  Bentley has amazing reviews so I felt like I missed out on a great dining experience.

Having said that, the staff were really friendly and efficient.

Bentley Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon


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  1. Shame that you felt the meal was underwhelming. It will be interesting to see how Bentley goes as it moves into its next chapter!

  2. This degustation looked very different from the one I had not too long ago...I quite liked mine, and feel it's quite unfortunate Bentley is moving on.