A couple of years ago I took my brother to Marque for his birthday dinner. To begin the meal we sampled the house baked bread. As the waiter recounted the flavours, I clapped my hands with excitement when he mentioned the rye bread with caraway. To my embarrassment, the waiter responded by saying: ‘Calm down, it’s only bread’.
On Sunday at Spencer Guthrie, I gasped and grabbed my upper chest when I saw caraway crackers accompanied the cheese plate. It looks like I can’t be taken anywhere without making a small spectacle of myself.
We were lunching at Spencer Guthrie to celebrate my friend Spong’s birthday. When I made the booking, I requested a great table position if possible as it was a birthday celebration. Does anyone else do this? Otherwise, I don’t ask for special treatment and try not to be a pain in the arse. Never underestimate the power wielded by chefs and waitstaff over your food.
The distressed walls were decorated with landscape paintings by Laura Matthews, an artist originally trained in the UK who now lives in Sydney. In a relatively small room, the multiple artworks dominated the space. Combined with the wooden French cafe chairs, large plants and astro turf bathroom door, the overall feel is green but warm.
Only Spathy and myself ordered an entree. Spathy had the salt cod and potato ravioli. It tasted like salt cod. Not disappointing, just not exciting. But if you like salt cod then it’s a reliable choice.
I had chicken and duck liver parfait which was very smooth. Birthday girl Spong liked it a lot. That cute little loaf you see next to it is gingerbread. It was rather fluffy and cakelike and didn’t slice very well. Although presented nicely, I feel that the gingerbread was created for a point of difference. As always, foremost in my mind was that eternal question – why is there never, ever enough bread served with pate/parfait?
Then onto the mains!
The main courses were all solid, well executed plates. All agreed that they’d happily return to the restaurant for another meal. Spanner and Spong were most looking forward to dessert. I had sent Spong a selection of restaurants to choose from for her celebration. She selected Spencer Guthrie primarily for their orange scented ricotta cake with olive oil & thyme ice-cream but by the time the birthday lunch rolled around, the menu had changed.
On Sunday, Spong consoled herself with the chewy meringue which turned out to be more like a mini pavlova. Currently in season, the glazed figs were predictably delicious. Coffee chantilly cream was a complete winner and I’m totally stealing that to serve next time I have people over for cake. It wasn’t oversweet and was the perfect, unexpected foil to the figs.
Warm almond cake would make a fantastic Winter dessert. The clove ice cream tasted like egg nog and therefore, Christmas. Albeit a Northern Hemisphere style Christmas with its sweet richness.
How could I leave without sampling the caraway crackers? I couldn’t, you should know that by now. Dry and crispy with a subtle caraway flavour, it was great with the cheese.
You won’t find excessive foams or the latest molecular gastronomy here and that’s a relief. People don’t necessarily want that in their favourite local restaurant.
Spencer Guthrie is a reliable, lazy Sunday lunch option.
399 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
Open for lunch Sun 12pm – 2.30pm; dinner Tue-Sat 6pm – 9.30pm
Phone: (02) 8068 1080