It seems as though everything I'm blogging these days is for some kind of celebration or other. It's just that time of the year I suppose! Mum found these Spreets deals for O Bar & Grill and bought vouchers for 6 people. She then delegated the task of booking to me. Apparently I was supposed to wait until after graduation (yes, this is another graduation event) but I got hasty.
The booking wasn't easy to get because I kept getting either a busy line or no one picking up. When I finally did get through, the lady couldn't hear half of what I was saying because someone else was trying to call and so the phone was beeping.
From that, I inferred that the restaurant was completely booked out until the end of the year and that we were lucky to get a table at all.
My family and I went in separate cars and both cars got lost along the way. We haven't been to or heard of Sanctuary Cove before but it is a hub of boutique stores, galleries and restaurants, situated at the end of a weird, quiet road lined with nice greenery and mansions. Walking through Sanctuary Cove, you see a LOT of nice, expensive cars (hardly any cars without personalized plates) and you find yourself asking philosophical questions like 'is it ever possible to have too much money?'
Byron and I got to the restaurant first and were placed at an outdoor table next to the live music. It wasn't as annoying as I thought because the guy just played a bit of Spanish guitar, nothing too blaring. The restaurant was much quieter than what I predicted and it makes me wonder why they don't have time to answer a phone call.
Glass of white
We were given a glass of wine (white for us) to sip while waiting for the other guests.
Red for mum and granddad
When my family finally got there (they were more lost than us), we could get the courses started.
Grilled ciabatta with garlic and thyme
First up was a simple toasted bread. It was supposed to be garlic bread but the garlic flavor was very subtle. I personally prefer this because I can't stand overpowering garlic but others might find it bland. Later on, we worked out that the bread was counted as a 'course' too, something I don't necessarily agree with.
King prawn salad of green paw paw, Asian herbs and nam jim
The first entree was a prawn salad with mint and green paw paw. This salad really needed some kind of dressing to pick it up. Boiled prawns are so boring on their own! The green paw paw salad wasn't bad though I admit to thinking the whole time that it was fennel (mum planted that idea in my head). I guess I'd fail at the taste test segment of MasterChef. Byron even pointed out to me 'fennel is usually much stronger' and I made up some quack about how young and old fennel taste different. Let us never speak of this again.
Five spices pork belly with nashi pear, pickled ginger salad and pear puree
The second entree was the pork belly. Let me just mention now that each plate/serving was rather small. I think my photos are misleading because I zoomed in to get the detail... they look rather big!
Close-up of pork
Remember this is a degustation and each course was just enough to taste. The pork belly was GOOD. The crackling was crunchy and the meat was tender and nicely seasoned. I liked the pear puree too; it went really well with the pork.
Wild river barramundi with braised fennel, fine herb salad and blood orange butter sauce
Next came the mains. We started with a seared barramundi. The fish was delicious! Very often, fish cooked in a Western style is dry and woody. This was lovely and juicy and not at all overcooked. The skin was extremely crispy too. I liked the braised fennel and Byron hated it. We both thought the prawn was a bit bait-like (dirty and fishy).
Grain-fed eye fillet with truffle and chive mash and vegetables
The steak was something I was really looking forward to because I haven't had a nice lump of meat to myself for a long, long time.
This steak was good! It was 'cool' (I think the plates had been sitting for a while before being brought out) but that aside, the steak was tender and tasty. We weren't asked how we would like the steak but they were all about a medium, which is my preference anyway. I liked the truffle mash too - not very silky but it had an earthy, rustic appeal.
Vanilla bean panna cotta shot, Persian fairy floss and chocolate brownie
For dessert, we had 3 mini items on a plate. The shot glass confused us because we didn't know if we should eat or drink it. It contained a vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberry jelly and fresh basil. It was silky, smooth with a rich vanilla flavor. Byron wanted a big pot of this stuff.
The Persian fairy floss was too small to appreciate and the chocolate brownie had a tart-like texture... it was a bit bland and dry for my liking.
The degustation concept was hit and miss for us. We go bored/annoyed at having to wait for a long time between each course until finally, mum and I asked them to bring the courses out quicker. I personally like having a small amount of many different things so I can try more and the majority of us felt full by the end of it. Byron said he kept digesting faster than the food was brought out so he ended up still hungry, but he is special.
The sizing between different serves of the same item was inconsistent. Mum kept getting the smallest of everything and compared to the large pieces, it was about half the size. We didn't like the prawn entree but the rest of the food was of good bistro (not fine dining) standard. The top 3 went to the fish, pork belly and steak, in that order (as voted on by the entire table).
The atmosphere at O Bar was pleasant and it has a modern/contemporary decor. We liked sitting by the water and perving on the expensive yachts. The service was friendly but at times disorganized (we were given steak knives and then another set of steak knives). We liked most of the food we were served in the degustation.