The lower north shore’s S’Age Bistronomy is unexpectedly great, calling on a fusion of flavours where east and west meet. Head chef Tomoyuki Usui has worked abroad before making Sydney his home, so it’s no surprise that his cooking brings French cuisine with Asian and especially Japanese influences. The beautiful presentation indicates French fine dining, but with the likes of soy sauce and dashi, there’s a contemporary take on classics.
We get right into the snack section of the menu with house baked bread and churned butter ($3 each). The bread is almost halfway to brioche, soft and indulgent the way enriched bread is.
Duck liver and beetroot macarons ($3 each) are a novel concept, though I wish they were a bit more savoury. The sweetness of the macaron overpowered the chicken liver a bit.
The smoked cod cream with squid ink chips and finger lime powder ($12) is smooth and creamy with the perfect crunch from the chips. Hot tip: the cream also works a charm when spread onto the bread.
At lunch time, all entrees are $17 and mains are $29 with a complimentary glass of wine. Although I don’t try the smoked oyster and kangaroo tartare with wattleseed cracker ($17), my dining companion confirms it’s very savoury and lightly smoked with an Asian familiarity to it.
My cauliflower with parsley and koji emulsion ($17), plus daubs of spiced mascarpone is gone in a heartbeat because I’m loving the great balance of creamy and vegetal flavours.
As we move on to the mains, the roasted corn fed chicken breast and confit leg with charred corn purée, and black barley ($29) is a substantial plate. A clever duo of corn incorporated, it’s a nice enough dish, though it doesn’t compare to the fish we’ve also ordered.
The caramelised market fish (today it’s snapper) ($29) with tamarind sauce, eggplant purée, and zucchini is the highlight of the meal for me. The fish is executed perfectly, flaking away gently at the touch my fork.
We were about to order the mash when we’re gently nudged to get the thrice cooked potatoes, burnt butter, and aioli ($10) instead. And we’re so glad for it. They’re insanely crispy in the way I find tempura is impeccably light and crunchy.
The smoky nuances of the charred broccolini, with fried shallot and sherry vinegar and mandarin crisp ($11) are also noteworthy.
At this stage, we’re stuffed, but there’s always room for dessert. We share the white chocolate, white peach, juniper berry and milk ice, and pina colada ($16). Though it doesn’t excite me like the other dishes, it’s an intricately designed dessert. The caramelised white peach inside the white chocolate doesn’t work wonders for me, but I’m a fan of the white chocolate mousse, also set within the cylinder.
As a side note, I’m not too keen on slates as plates, but that’s a personal preference of mine. I find the sound of cutlery against the slate a bit jarring.
Address: 308 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest 2065
Phone: (02) 9906 7736
Hours: Tues-Sun 12pm-3pm + 6pm-10:30pm