Alas, all good things must come to an end.
When I heard that Cotton Duck was closing its doors on the 31st of March, I quickly made a reservation. I brought Stephen and our work friend Nha, and we all decided beforehand to go for the 6-course degustation ($80). I chose to order matching wines as well ($110), the plan being that Stephen and I would share because he was driving; therefore I felt justified ordering a cocktail to begin.
I felt less justified at the end of the night when I bumped my head getting into the car with Stephen: I was raging drunk. Oh well. It was a send off, after all! (Because I became intoxicated I can't read the notes I made afterwards, and the menu has been taken off the website, so unfortunately I have no idea what the wines were).
As we walked into the restaurant, we came face-to-face with the greenery and designer ceiling sculpture that the place is so famous for. We were seated in a quiet section of the restaurant and plied with menus and drinks.
We started with an appetiser of flatbread, which was fluffy and light with little pockets of crispiness, and a chickpea puree that was thick in texture, but went beautifully with the bread. The wine was quite dry and tart, and was the only glass I didn't finish.
Our first course was a two-parter. The first plate that came out as a linear masterpiece: small, plump roasted prawns were scattered across a baton of poached leek, along with perfectly cooked caviar lentils. All this was accentuated with garum, a type of fermented fish sauce common in ancient Greece and Rome.
The pork was diced into incredibly small pieces, and then prepared in a way that sort of made it taste preserved. The cucumber was arranged into a neat stack, and a couple of slices of pickled beetroot graced the plate as well. The wine I was given here was slightly less dry, but could not be called sweet by any means.
This polenta pudding was wrapped in a net of soft, gooey tilsit cheese and served over a little pile of grilled corn. It was definitely interesting to cut into the cheese and receive a dolop of wobbly pudding!
We weren't really impressed with this dish. While the duck was tender and the parcels full to capacity with it, the broth was flavourless and the ravioli wrappers a little tough.
This was the Cotton Duck version of ratatouille, a chilled, roasted vegetable soup with cherry tomato halves and a good slice of Persian feta. I liked the slick of balsamic vinegar, but overall i found this dish a little lackluster. I distinctly remember enjoying the rosé it came with though - it was light, sweet and refreshing.
This was a spectacular cut of meat. Our waitress told us Sporalli Dorsai is a cut of meat above the sirloin, and it was cooked to medium rare perfection. Served with garlic chips, red onion and a jus, it was an ode to the perfectly cooked cut of beef, and the red it was served with was an excellent match.
The steak was served as a share platter with roasted new potatoes and crispy beans and peas.
The pre-dessert was extremely interesting, a play on textures and flavours that was a lot of fun to eat. The fennel sherbert fizzed a little on the tongue, while the whipped sheep's milk yoghurt was slightly tangy and melted in the mouth. Little drops of blueberry meringue completed the airiness of this dish. I was given a honey-mead for this course, which was really sweet without being cloying, and was perfectly tailored to suit.
Our final course was a sugar plum tart to share between the three of us. The plums were whole, de-seeded and wondrously warm and juicy with cooking. The crust left a little to be desired, being a little over-cooked, but that was made all better by the drizzle of fresh cream over the top.
Our evening at Cotton Duck was full of good times and gastronomical adventure, and it's sad to see this one go. Despite the quality of this restaurant and many other like it, the competition is just too fierce in Surry Hills and it's very hard to continue to provide this level of service and quality at prices people like us will pay. However, there is still Danks Street Depo to look forward to, and I very much look forward to trying their Rueben sandwich with wagyu.
Cotton Duck (Closed)
Formerly at 50 Holt St,
Surry Hills, NSW