Nobody does the waiter swoop like Est does. It’s the timing. They stand behind you and with a bare flutter of linen, the plate appears in front of you. It’s more of a dance than it is food delivery.
This restaurant of classic white surrounds, neck-strainingly high ceilings, Grecian-style columns and crystal chandeliers that tinkle and sparkle overhead is elegant proof that there's still a place for fine dining in Sydney.
Est is the sort of place you might find on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where twin set-clad matriarchs would pick at a few leaves and swill Champagne while well-fed hedge-funders congratulated themselves over a bottle of Bordeaux.
But this is Sydney, and it’s a restaurant that isn’t hidden behind closed doors. You don’t need a letter of invitation to eat here, either, and the crowd is as diverse as chef Peter Doyle’s technique-driven, ultra-refined modern Australian menu.
All around the room, tables are having a good time, ordering Champagne from the special trolley that does the rounds at the beginning of the meal. Or they’re arming themselves with Negronis, sinking into the cushy, rough linen lounges over by the grey marble bar, lit by a single jade glass chandelier.
Go the four-course chef’s menu of two entrees, a main and a dessert. You might start with a dish of Jerusalem artichoke, prepared three different ways. Here, you’ll see ’em pickled, puréed and fried. A light, fragrant chicken consommé is enriched with shiitake mushrooms, clear cylinders of gelatinous, mouth-coating beef tendon and slices of raw venison so thin they’re like ragged silk.
Pert little quail breasts are grilled until the skin is deep, glossy and golden. They’re joined by perfect little orbs of foie-filled pasta bound in a foamy, rich emulsion of cepe mushrooms embittered with chickweed and finished with the pared-back sweetness of fresh, raw chestnuts. (By the way, did you know ducks love chickweed? We’re not sure how quails feel about it, though.)
Service and wine are paramount here. Sommelier Claire Mariottini is a drawcard in-and-of herself, pouring aged, rare sherry, Japanese pinot noir… there’s even a ’95 Château d’Yquem if you’re feeling fancy. In fact, if you order a glass, they’ll shout you dessert. As well they might at $89 a pop.
Speaking of dessert, layer upon layer of baked Granny Smith apple slices rest on a thin, melt-in-your-mouth pastry base, served side-by-side with a slice of light, fluffy vanilla cheesecake and a perfect quenelle of earl-grey tea ice cream. It’s Sydney’s most luxurious apple pie.
Est is expensive. There’s no getting round that. But it’s the restaurant that ticks every box, from service to wine to food. You won’t catch them bending to fads or flights of nacho-fuelled fancy. No. Consistent, assured, straight-shooting excellence is the name of the game here. And for that we say thank effing god.