So Mark Best’s Crown Street “fine diner” Marque has once again retained its coveted “three hat” status. Mrs Prick and I had an anniversary dinner there a few years ago (it was the traditional “pay a fortune to be treated like unwanted relatives and go home hungry” anniversary) and ever since we have wondered how Best holds his own against the far better experiences offered by Quay, Sepia, and the like.
I wasn’t blogging at the time but I was so appalled by the frowny service, the lack of atmosphere, and the gouging at every turn that I did set down some notes the next day:
Too clever by half, and then some: “Look at me! I can make a foam!” the spanner crab course seemed to announce on the kitchen’s behalf. The chaud-froid egg was really just a gussied-up egg custard as it was served at an ambient temperature (along with just about everything else, giving us the hopefully inaccurate sense that dishes were assembled long before they were due to arrive at the table). There was no discernable warm/cold differential, which my high school-level French tells me should be the defining character of a “chaud-froid” dish.
Likewise presentations were overly precious, but the tiny little bits and bobs of each dish’s components either lacked punch, individually or collectively, or fought terribly against one another. Thus the scampi over-powered its delicate accompaniments, while those little Campari cubes were an absolute punch in the mouth –what were they doing there? Overpowering, tasting of bile – just wrong. What was that oyster doing with the pork? And the desire to chop up or emulsify everything made us feel like toddlers not trusted to use a knife.
Finally, would it kill them to pour a glass of sparkling or something with the egg, for those paying for the matching wines? Additionally, the comment that the “matching wine was in the desert” was pretty cheeky with regard to the sauternes custard (which was quite nice, by the way). Does the individual not paying the $75 for matching wines get a custard sans sauternes?
Hopefully they have lifted their game since.