Uncorked Restaurant, at the Union Hotel was recently awarded the top gong for Best Restaurant in a Pub at the Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence NSW 2010, so I went along to see what all the fuss was about.
Situated on the first floor of the hotel, the decor switches from modern pub to chic glam - with white leather booths (complete with padded leather door panels), black wood paneling and vibrant red carpet. I also notice the retro worm's eye view photographs of the Eiffel Tower, which are very similar to the shots I took when I was in Paris last year. It is very stylish and strangely unexpected.
The menu is Modern Australian with French influences and changes month to month, to allow chefs to showcase seasonal produce.
What Uncorked offers is sophistication and warmth... I'd say they fill the gap between gastropubs and fine dining.
Entrees are $16 and main courses are mainly $28. Zen starts with the Moreton Bay bug, seared scallop and confit chicken wings with pickled tomato. It's hard to go wrong with finely executed sweet and juicy shellfish, really.
I have the crispy skin duck which is served with braised daikon, celeriac puree, fresh orange segments and a sprinkle of ruby red pomegranate seeds. I love seeing so many different colours on the plate and the flavours are succulently paired.
My main course is Uncorked's signature dish, the bouillabaisse which also happens to be an absolute favourite of mine! I remember eating this luscious stew night after night in the South of France - it is impossible to grow tired of!
Uncorked's variation of the bouillabaisse is a little more refined than the rustic versions I've had. It is perfumed with lingering aromas of garlic and saffron, and intertwined with generous fillets of snapper, king prawns, mussels, clams, scallops and crab. I'm tremendously grateful the chef has taken the time to de-shell the crab meat and chosen to use a fillet of fish that isn't studded with bones, as this is the first time I've devoured a bouillabaisse without getting down and dirty!
Using my fingers to hold the crusty baguette to mop up the delicious broth doesn't count though right?
Zen has the grassfed wagyu sirloin which is served with potato dauphinoise, caponata, grated fresh horseradish and chive oil, and we share a side salad of baby endive, radicchio, roast pear and parmesan. No pomme frites for us because we're preparing our bodies for the Christmas holiday cruise!
And what a contradiction it is, that we end up ordering a dessert each anyway?
We have the poached peach which is complemented with hazelnut ice cream, sweetened semolina and raspberry crystals and a spectacularly moist warm honey and almond cake with rhubarb and pistachios.
Overall, Uncorked is a neat package for an enjoyable night out - attentive service, a well-priced and seasonally creative menu, and I just love the intimacy and comfort of the leather booths!
271 Pacific Highway (Corner of West Street), North Sydney
Phone: (02) 9955 5844
Open Wednesday to Friday Lunch, Thursday to Saturday Dinner
JENIUS and partner dined as guests of Exposure PR and Uncorked Restaurant.