Both Sydneysiders and visitors to this great city may know the large, salmon-coloured Novotel building in Darling Harbour. What they may not realise is that this hotel also houses a great restaurant called The Ternary. This is the brain-child of Executive chef, Anthony Flowers and the perfect place to experience a memorable dining experience, which we were fortunate enough to do.
The Ternary is just about to turn a year old but it is a place that runs like a well-oiled machine. The restaurant takes inspiration from its name and is split into three separate kitchens including the Asian, Grill and Charcuterie Wine Bar. It’s all light, airy and open plan meaning that diners can be fully immersed in watching their dinner being prepared and seeing it go from pan to plate.
Flowers is a seasoned professional at the hospitality game having previously worked at Berowra Waters Inn, Ad Lib Bistro in Pymble, The Mean Fiddler, Stacks Taverna and 41 Restaurant. It was his idea to open up the kitchen to the diners and have it be like an up-market, Teppanyaki experience. Flowers felt that some of the theatrics of food had been lost on patrons when things were prepared in closed, separate kitchens. In this new and novel space, the chefs speak to the customers and often exchange tips and tricks with them (especially those who are seated right up against the grill).
When you consider that The Ternary is still a commercial kitchen having to feed lots of hungry guests, it’s amazing to see how serene it all is. The chefs seem calm, happy and immensely proud of their work and this really shines through in their food. The dishes provide a harmony of flavours, balance and texture and it’s all one sheer delight for the taste, sight and smell senses. The meals are also designed to be shared and lend things a nice, homely feel. And if that’s not enough, the restaurant also offers floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a busy, Sydney skyline. It’s also a perfect vantage point to see Darling Harbour’s regular fireworks displays (on Saturday nights and special occasions).
To start we are served a warm plain naan bread ($5), which is also available in garlic and cheese varieties, served with smoked yoghurt and mango chutney topped with pomegranate. The chutney was very flavoursome, the dark orange condiment drew together lots of different spices, which danced on your tongue while the bread was thick and tasty.
The following betel leaves of smoked flaked salmon with salmon pearls and fried shallots ($15), which is also available in crispy pork for $14 had a lot to offer and not just because it was a very pretty dish. The leaves are often considered a stimulant and provide a certain woodiness when coupled with the saltiness of the fish, the delicate roe of the salmon and the crunchy shallots.
The betel leaves were a little unexpected and different and the same can also be said about the restaurant’s signature, dragon egg ($18). This saw a quail’s egg coated with spicy chicken mince and fried in chickpea flower and accompanied by a tandoori yoghurt. It was also served on top of a nest of thin fennel strips which had been fried and caramelised in chickpea flour. This was one very unique combination of ingredients and flavours and was almost like an Indian scotch egg with a soft, yolk centre. It was also nothing short of exquisite. In fact, if Peter Gilmore owns the snow egg then Anthony Flowers is the samurai master of the dragon egg.
The Asian influences continued with a labour of love that is known as the pulled peppered beef in crispy pastry with water chestnuts ($18). This one sees some beef slow-cooked for 12 hours in stock and is infused with black pepper paste, black pepper oil and chestnut oil. It’s almost like the beef and the pepper become one. The meat is also melt-in-your-mouth delicious and is plated up with tamarind sauce and some refreshing lime. Yum.
The Thai red curry with gelatinous rice (part of the February degustation menu at $95 pp) is topped with some beautiful, rare duck that actually tasted quite lean, which can be uncommon for this kind of meat. The curry sauce also boasted some sweet lychees and pineapple and they complimented the warm heat of the sauce.
The lamb rack ($43) is sourced from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and served with pillow-like kipfler potatoes, sliced bell peppers and eggplant caviar. The eggplant and peppers were soft and sweet and had a Middle Eastern flavour while the lamb was cooked to perfection (my guest even enquired about a masterclass, it was that good).
The desserts included some summer fruits with peach sorbet and prosecco (the final course in the February degustation menu) and a dark chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet ($13). The latter was a light and sweet mousse accompanied by some tart, dried raspberries and some sweet mascarpone. It was heavenly.
The finale featured a selection of cheese ($27) including the Brie, Camembert and blue varieties. This also included some homemade raisins (still on the stalk) as well as some quince paste and walnut bread. It was a fitting end to a gorgeous evening.
The Ternary is a place brimming with different ideas. There is a fusion of lots of different flavours and some left-field combinations that work extremely well together. It is clear that Flowers and his accomplished team of chefs are experts in crafting amazing dishes that incorporate lots of different culinary techniques, which also support the excellent, local ingredients they use.
The restaurant offers smaller, Tapas-like dishes and mains from the Asian kitchen (from $8.50-$39) and mains from the Grill (from $28-$55) while desserts are $13 and the cheese board is $27. There is almost a little something for everyone here. In short, Flowers wanted to bring some theatre to his restaurant and it’s fair to say he’s succeeded because his food actually sings.
The Ternary, Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour
Address: 100 Murray St, Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Contact: (02) 9934 0000
Originally published on 7 February 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/dining/the-ternary-pyrmont-sydney-february-2016/
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