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after a long day in the blue mountains and a cruise back into sydney harbour, mk and i stumbled across the redoak beer boutique. what promised to be an eventful lager experience also turned out to be the most fascinating gastro wonder. we had one look at the food menu and decided it had to be tried.
my other half was in sydney in june. these are his musings on bay eighty-eight in sydney. he tweets @kinbintin
mk and i both ordered the double duck for our main course. this was confit duck breast served with organic duck and fresh herb sausage, pearl barley risotto, slow-cooked red cabbage and olive tapenade. not only did this sound a mouthful, it proved one of the best ways to cook and serve duck. it was tender and juicy and the risotto worked well. add some chef's salad on the side and you strike the right balance between green and protein. each main course comes with a recommended lager to accompany, ours was the 'winter lager' which was dark and wholesome but refreshing and not overpowering. most of the beer is presumably brewed in-house.
the highlight of the evening was not the main course, but a series of 'tasting platters' that match small servings of food and dessert with various beers. we shared a dessert platter, which came with four small dessert servings, each accompanied by a corresponding lager to be consumed almost simultaneously. this was a journey of taste and contrast. we start with a light dessert and a light beer (a simple banana cake served with a crispy light lager) and progress gradually to an apple crumble served with a slightly more potent beer. the final instalment is a dark chocolate mousse served with a much darker and wintery lager. as you progress you find that the contrast increases between opposing taste and sensation. thorough delight is how we expressed our satisfaction to the charming waitress, only to be told that the chef is soon replacing the generic dessert platter with a more focused beer and chocolate truffle platter. the idea of combining beer with food and dessert is not unknown but is to be found only occasionally. the staff demonstrates what is one of the best service experiences one can encounter, even compared to michelin starred restaurants which this writer frequents. the waitress asked what our plan was for the rest of evening and directed us to another bar in a nearby street.
baxter inn sydney is one of those underground places, which you only reach through a dark and desolate alley, the kind that feels like your kidneys and wallet might suddenly disappear. at the end we are welcomed into the basement of a corner building. this is a prohibition themed (mainly whiskey) bar where the bartenders really know their science and the guests seem relaxed in an altogether different world. you are greeted with candlelight, moustachioed bartenders and bottles hastily stacked upon each other. the bootlegging experience was well-executed with unlimited pretzels and a charming atmosphere. we sipped on our glenmorangie on the rocks, followed by auchentoshan and talisker to early 1900s jazz playing in the background. we did not want to leave.