A few years back I lived in Melbourne and a venue called The Botanical was in my neighbourhood. The Bot, as we called it, was a Melbourne institution – known for long lunches, even longer dinners and a good night out in the champagne bar out the back. One of the things that made The Botanical so great was the service, and that was led by Erez Gordon. Erez’s style of service is exemplary, but delivered with such ease it’s like you’re catching up with an old friend…who likes to pour you generous glasses of wine! Chef Paul Cooper hit Erez’s radar when he hired him to work the pans at The Botanical, just as Erez was exiting. Paul spent time in the kitchen at London’s Pied a Terre and is considered a nose to tail specialist.
The guys now live in Sydney with young families and have teamed up to open Bishop Sessa in Surry Hills. I had to try it.
I’ve never really put it out there online, but I’m pregnant at the moment. All the good stuff seems to be off limits to me at the moment, so I called ahead to let them know. It was clear from the beginning that they understood what a pregnant woman needs, as well as her dining companion!
We decided to try the six-course degustation, mine at $69 food only, and my partner’s at $119 with matched wines. Over the six courses, only three were modified for me, but the modifications were spot on. I started with an heirloom tomato salad and my partner had wild Yellowtail Kingfish, green beans, crème fraiche and smoked eel veloute, matched with a glass of Manzanilla (sherry). I had a sip of the sherry and my god it was good. Even with my tomatoes it worked.
The Roasted Ayelsbury duck breast (mine was cooked a little longer so it wasn’t rare) with beetroot, turnip and a delicious mulled wine dressing was succulent and well matched with the very interesting 2012 O’Leary Walker Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills.
Technique shone through in the final savoury dish, the potato wrapped, red wine braised Wagyu with mushroom and bacon ragout and a rich smoked tomato sauce. This completely sells it short, but it felt like a very grown up, very refined sausage roll. And I mean that as a MASSIVE compliment. Who doesn’t love meat delivered in a crispy shell? It was wintery, satisfying and a beautiful combination with a few sips of 2012 Mandoleto Nero d’Avola from Sicily.
We sat down stairs where I felt we benefitted from Erez’s attentive service and got to watch all the comings and goings and the bar. Tthere’s also a room upstairs which was really lively, and jumping on the Friday night we were there. I highly recommend dinner at Bishop Sessa and can’t wait to head back myself.
527 Crown Street (The old Tabou restaurant)
Surry Hills, NSW
Phone 02 8065 7223