Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happiness really is a shared meal...at Sailors Thai @ Ivy

I've been a fan of the original Sailors Thai at the Rocks for many years so when I heard they had opened at the Ivy needless to say I was rubbing my hands in anticipation. What would they do different? What will be the same? I took the opportunity to try it out when my dear friend iFranc called to say not only was he was in Sydney, but he was free for lunch!

Name: Sailors Thai Ivy
Where: Level 2, 330 George St, Sydney

Web: http://www.merivale.com/#/ivy/sailorsthai
Diners: HappyLeDiz and iFranc

Walking out of the lift I see Ivy Bar to my right (with gorgeous canary yellow and white candy stripe wallpaper) and a line of sinks to my left. That's right, you can see into the washroom of the women's amenities from the foyer, an interesting feature. Behind a black screen you step into a bright, airy space full of sophistication - black panelled walls, luscious green plants, white plantation shutters on floor to ceiling windows lining the opposite wall.

The sophisticated dining room & bar

I was greeted by a friendly waiter, shown to my seat and offered a drink while I waited for iFranc. The music was funky, a bit of electro, funk and jazz and played at a good volume. The place has a good vibe to it but, seeing as the windows overlooked one of Ivy's many bars, I can imagine if the bar was pumping it would very quickly become hard to maintain a conversation in the restaurant.

iFranc arrived and after we finally stopped hugging, saying good to see you, you look fabulous etc... we settled down to the menu. We decided to share 3 entrees to keep the meal light and had a glass of wine (a lovely, light Loire Valley Vouvrey) to complement the dishes.

First up we ordered the betel leaves with crab, coconut, chilli, lime, ginger and peanuts, caramel sauce. This was far and away the best dish we had. Each bite was a burst of flavour, simultaneously spicy, sweet, fresh and crunchy; the roe on top of each leaf made a delightful pop in my mouth introducing even more flavour with each chew. Both iFranc and I loved this dish and agreed we could eat it over and over again (and seriously contemplated doing so)

The dish of the day - betel leaves with crab, coconut, chilli, lime, ginger, peanuts and caramel sauce ($12)

Next up was the prawns in wonton skin with sailors thai sweet chilli sauce. This dish was presented with a lot of height and the wontons were fried to a golden hue. Each bite was crunchy with lovely, chunky prawns contained within and the sauce was nice too. iFranc didn't like the tails, he thought they were too crunchy (but that's a personal preference thing)

Prawns in wonton skin with sailors thai sweet chilli sauce ($16)

Finally, after some deliberation, we ordered the twice cooked five spice calamari with red chilli, coriander and shallots. This dish took quite a while to come out of the kitchen (approx 20 minutes with a half empty restaurant) and was really beautifully presented with a mountain of coriander and a cheek of lime topping the calamari and red chilli. We looked at it in anticipation, it was such a feast for the eyes, unfortunately not so much for the mouths. There was an overwhelming fish taste (like it had been doused in fish sauce prior to dressing) and the crumb on the calamari was soggy so you didn't get the nice contrast of crunchy crumb mixed with soft calamari. The calamari itself was cooked well, succulent and not too rubbery but the dish itself was underwhelming.

Twice cooked five spice calamari with red chilli, coriander and shallots ($20)
All in all I really enjoyed Sailors Thai @ Ivy. The atmosphere was good, the decor was stylish, the prices were reasonable and the service was friendly (if a bit overzealous sometimes). I'll definitely be going back.

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