After hearing much about this restaurant I finally had the chance to sample Neil Perry's latest incarnation first hand and I must say I was very impressed
Name: Spice Temple
Where: 10 Bligh St, Sydney
Diners: HappyLeDiz and work colleagues
Walking through a really cool door that has a dynamic image of a oriental silk drape built in, you walk down a spiral stair case and feel more like you are entering an underground club rather than a restaurant. It has an exclusive feel about it. The ambience is funky and I personally found the music a bit too loud but the interior design is simple, raw and pared back but luxurious in feel.
I was fortunate enough to go for a work lunch with 6 others so we had the opportunity to order many dishes to share across the menu. I'll have to share with you now dear reader, I am an absolute wuss when it comes to chilli laden and spicy foods, I am trying to build up my 'heat threshold' but am currently relegated to ordering the 1-2 chilli rated foods at my local Thai and Indian restaurants. With this is mind my colleagues were kind enough to order items from the menu that were lighter on the spice and chilli factor.
The menu has a nice layout, there's a photo of a beautiful woman on the front (of which my male colleagues all joked "I'll take her thanks") and a simple, uncluttered layout. Any really hot and spicy dish (beef fillet in firewater anybody?) is printed in a deep, hot red ink to truly evoke the heat the dish contains.
After much deliberation, our party settled on the following menu items:
Steamed eggplant with 3 flavours - garlic, coriander & sweet pork
Fried salt and pepper silken tofu with spicy coriander salad
Stir fried scallops with velvet noodles and chilli paste
Steamed blue eye fillet Hunan style - salted red chilli & pickled green chilli
Three shot chicken - beer, chilli, soy
Guangxi style roast pork belly with coriander, peas, red onion and sesame seeds
Stir fried cumin lamb with steamed bread pockets
Stir fried grass fed beef fillet with wok blistered peppers and black bean
Stir fried greens with garlic
Banana, chocolate and peanut sesame ball with banana ice cream
Mango cream with condensed milk chantilly
Sesame ice cream with candied popcorn and chocolate
It was such a diverse selection and I'm not going to go into the complexities of each dish (I don't think my vocabulary of descriptive words is big enough!) but the highlights for me were the:
Eggplant - unbelievable flavour combination. Just divine...but don't believe the waiter when he says you won't stink afterwards!
Scallops - the scallops were cooked to perfection, the noodles were silky and melt in your mouth and the chilli paste had a subtle heat and full of flavour
Pork Belly - crispy and succulent and the accompanying salad was simultaneously fresh and spicy
Chicken - the chicken was finished in a ceramic dish over a gas flame at the table. The chilli oil had heat but wasn't overpowering and the combination of soy and beer gave it a slight sweet and savoury flavour. I especially liked the touch of mixing the three shots at the table, it gave the dish a sense of ceremony
Mango cream - I'm going to put it out there, this would have to be one of the best desserts I have ever eaten; creamy, flavoursome, more-ish. I was disappointed I had to share this!
We shared two bottles of wine (a Riesling and a Pinot Noir) from the extensive (and fiercely selective) wine list - they have a strict list of 100 wines, if one is added another is booted - both of which complemented the meal superbly. We also had coffee with dessert. Spice Temple serves Vittoria's 'cinque stelle' blend which is a beautiful, smooth, flavourful coffee.
I really enjoyed this experience. For the seven of us it came to just over $500 which is reasonable for the amount and quality of food and wine consumed. I'd recommend you go with a group rather than a couple so you can really experience what the menu has to offer.