As a way to ring in the end of my university years, a friend and I decided to celebrate with a nice dinner. Bentley ended up being the default choice for our Saturday night evening plans, as the other restaurant we wanted to go to was booked out. We had a reservation for 6:15pm on a Saturday evening, and the restaurant was nearly full when we got in.
We were greeted at the entrance by the bartender, and in the dining area by a man in a suit, showed to our table and given menus. We decided upon the 8 course menu, much to my less hungry dining companion’s dismay, and were brought an amuse bouche right after.
The red one was foie gras with chili, and had an intense, creamy and rich flavour. The brown one featured foie gras with hazelnut, and tasted pleasant but had a milder and more watery flavour than the red one.
The scallop tartare with cucumber and lemon myrtle was the first proper dish of the evening. The scallop was fresh and was paired well with the combination of cucumber and lemon flavouring. S enjoyed this immensely, while I thought it was nice but not excellent.
The dashi with roasted celery heart and cured apple was one of my least favourite dishes of the night. Dashi has a simple flavour, and paired with the roasted celery heart and cured apple, it was a plain and subtle dish that lacked any real flavour.
S and I agreed that the mulloway was a nicely cooked piece of fish. It was moist, and flaked apart when we dug into it with our forks, and was complemented by the accompanying sauce which tasted somewhat like Hollandaise, but which I’m sure, wasn’t.
The duck breast was one of the best dishes of the night. It was the most flavoursome dish out of everything that had been served thus far, with pickled radish, comte cheese, and something called ‘muntries’ which I had never heard of before until that moment. The comte cheese’s flavour was barely detectable in contrast to the tangy radish and muntries. What really stood out was the perfectly tender duck breast, left slightly rare.
The pork was also a nice dish, but not as nice as the duck. It was fatty and tender, and admittedly when it came out, my first thought was ‘where’s the jamon?’ It turned out the jamon had been air dried, and was the thin, brownish material standing vertically. It was interesting, with a paper thin consistency and retained its classic salty flavour.
This was my favourite savoury dish of the night. The beef tenderloin was served medium rare, with ‘banana shallot’ which I’m still not entirely sure is what, black garlic sauce, and ‘nigella’ which turned out to be plain old onion seed, as explained to us by the staff. Black garlic, in contrast to its fairer skinned sibling, is sweet and mild in flavour, and tastes nothing like regular garlic. I particularly enjoy the pairing of meats with sweet sauces, and this was the perfect ending to the savoury courses.
The first dessert was a blackberry sorbet, with accents of lime and garnished with sorrel leaves. The sorrel leaves really didn’t add much to the dessert, other than its aesthetic. The sweet and sour contrast of the blackberry and lime was nice, along with the custard like cream. The sorbet was refreshing, and didn’t taste overly sweet.
The last course was violet ice cream, with meringue, cocoa honeycomb, lemon and blueberry. The violet ice cream was creamy with a mild violet flavour, reminding me of the flowers that used to grow outside my house when I was a child. I didn’t care for the meringue as I’ve never enjoyed the texture of it, and Bentley’s rendition did little to change my opinion. In the centre of the meringue, there was a thick blueberry jam, which added nicely to the hard contrast of the cocoa honeycomb, and the soft, cool violet ice cream. Overall, not as aesthetically pleasing as the first dessert, but the combination of differing flavours and textures created a pleasing dish.
The service all evening had been polite, and deferential. I generally find the service at lavish restaurants quite aloof and impersonal, but at all times professional. The ambience was pleasant and elegant, but the restaurant became quite crowded and loud after 7pm. S and I had had shared two bottles of wine throughout our meal, and left, satiated and exhausted. S, who had been to Bentley a number of times previously, commented that the meats and fish had been cooked well and were nice, but didn’t think the food was anywhere near as good as it used to be. I agreed that I had enjoyed dinner, but didn’t think the restaurant warranted a return visit.