Saturday, June 18, 2011

Restaurant Arras - take me to wonderland!

If you asked me to pick a restaurant in Sydney that you'd have to visit at least once in your lifetime, I think my answer would be... Restaurant Arras!

Dining at Restaurant Arras is like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. With a curious mind, I encountered dishes that are more dramatic and playful than I could ever imagine. Me and my close friends visited Restaurant Arras to celebrate my birthday last year, and I could still remember the wonderful experience vividly. 

These tasty house made bread crisps mark the beginning of a wonderful five-hour dinner journey at the hatted Restaurant Arras. 
Complementary bread crisps - a very nice snack while we "studied" the menu :)

The menu at Restaurant Arras is intentionally obtuse, with dishes like "The Raw and the Cooked" and "Chicken or Fish" listed without any commentaries. Therefore prior to ordering, we waited for the manager to come and explain the dishes, which was done delightfully and passionately. As you will later see, the head chef and co-owner, Adam Humphrey is incredible at coming up with inspiring and playful names for his dishes.

The friendly, yet professional waiter serving us complementary bread from a bread basket. There was a wide selection of the basic sourdoughs, wholemeal, linseed, to the more exciting ones such as onion and pumpkin bread. Baked daily from the kitchen, and yes, the bread was served WARM :)

Yummy Onion bread
Cute Sourdough

Vegetarian (or "non-fish") Amuse bouche
A refreshing beetroot and feta salad 

Amuse Bouche for the rest of the group

The Raw and The Cooked
A salad with a dazzling array of colours and contrasting textures.

Birds-eye view: There is a mixture of smooth puree, crunch pickled and cooked vegetable, edible flowers, tiny peas that are so beautifully styled on the plate.

A Plate of British Charcuterie

Game? Gala? Wellington?

Smoked, Roast and Dressed

A Pickled Onion
This was a whole onion slow roasted for 6 hours.I had the pleasure of tasting some elements of this dish, which was delightful and surprisingly sweet.

Seafood “Cassoulet” MKII

L Loves... Orange Squash
The dish comprises of a yummy, sweet pumpkin tatin, pumpkin curry puff, a shotglass of hot pumpkin soup and frozen orange sorbet (such a great balance of sweet, sour, tangy, savory, hot & cold), splodges of sweet'n'spiced pumpkin puree, and gorgeous orange brittle that has sugar-trapped pumpkin seeds inside.

Rossini’s Pigeon

Square Peg, Round Hole

Tomato Soup and Friends

Chicken or Fish
a chicken that is trying to pretend to be a fish, by dressing and flavouring itself with thyme and lemon... I can't stop asking myself "why?"

Even before the desserts I was speechless again when they presented to us a complementary pre-dessert that was so generous and spectacular.

Jellies, shortbread and ice cream
The desserts menu
We figured the decision was too difficult so we ordered one of each to share!ohhhh how I love my dinner buddies :P

Coulant au Chocolat - Michel Bras
The rich chocolate sauce explodes from inside when you dig into the chocolate fondant, the warm, gooey chocolate sauce and the slightly crunchy pudding + the cold vanilla ice cream makes this dessert every chocoholic's dream

An Adolescent Breakfast
Oh how I wish we could have breakfast like this - on the plate is a yummy vanilla sorbet crumble and a chocolate and caramel cake.

Dessert signing :D
This is such a creative dish... I love how they had the cream in the tooth paste tube and let you have some fun with it.

A Sticky Date (notice the pun again)

Fruit Salad and Yoghurt
The tangy sourness of the fruits cut through the sweetness of all other desserts

L Loves... The Cinematic Soufflé
What a cute, enchanting and at the same time scrumptious dessert! With popcorn flavoured souffle that has risen proudly to burst out of the pot, popcorn ice cream, mini bag of sweet and salty popcorn, and caramel syrup.

The enthusiastic and knowledgeable manager brings out the legendary tray
of petit fours! She introduced us to each one and warned us to grab them 
while we remembered what they were.

We could pick as many as we wanted... it was such a glorious sight even though we were full already!! From memory, there were chocolates, caramel chews, jellies, coconut balls, toffees, honeycomb etc etc... What a way to finish!!

I picked a grapefruit jelly and an almond & orange chocolate :)
I am so impressed by such a place that combines magnificent atmosphere, attentive service and intriguing, beautiful, tasty Modern British food, served with humour and flair. I definitely think Restaurant Arras is more than worthy of its one-hatted status!

L's Verdict:
  • Taste: 8/10
  • Ambience: 4/5
  • Value: 4/5 
  • Service: 4/5 (was quite a lengthy wait before the manager was available to explain each of the dishes on the menu to us, however this was more than compensated by the friendly yet professional service and the generous amounts of complementary bread crisps, bread, amuse bouche, pre-dessert, and petits fours)
  • Creativity and other WOW factors: 5/5 

Overall rating: 25/30

Restaurant Arras
Ground Floor, 24 Hickson Rd
Walsh Bay, NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9252 6285

Note Restaurant Arras has moved and is now located at:
204 Clarence Street, 
Sydney NSW 2000 
Ph: (02) 9283 1922

Open: Lunch Fri 12-2.30pm
Dinner Tues to Sat 6-10pm

Visited Jun 2010

Friendly advice: go with the people you'd like to spend (a lot of) quality time and amazing food with, because that is exactly what you will get!

Restaurant Arras on Urbanspoon


  1. Mel - I want to go again too :P
    I think you'll definitely like it!

  2. lily, did u take all these photos? they look really good!!! im learning photography now too. maybe we should have one lesson from Mr Big Wu after the 20th hehehe :P

  3. Thanks Jamie! Yep - I took most of these photos!
    hehe, you know what, that's a great reason to call for another feast :)