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By Eddie Hart
July 03, 2014

The Governors Table

Where colonial-era cooking techniques meet modern Australian cuisine.
By Eddie Hart
July 03, 2014

The Governors Table salutes Sydney's unique heritage by combining colonial-era cooking techniques with modern Australian cuisine. At the head of the table is Tim Bryan, who can boast experience at Sydney's eminent establishments, Aria and Chiswick. The acclaimed chef explains, "The menu traces elements of Australia's rich historic beginnings".

Bryan skilfully presents our colonial past on a plate. Old-fashioned cookery such as baking, smoking and pickling are blended seamlessly with a modern-day culinary edge. There is both a nod to our country's British legacy and also a real 'Aussie' essence — a cheeky gentrification gives a refined touch to classics like the humble meat pie, sausage roll and beef burger.

A twist on traditional tucker is fitting as the restaurant's site is steeped in the history of Australia's origins as a colonial settlement in 1788. The contemporary restaurant is situated at the Museum of Sydney, the iconic site of the first Government House in Australia. This was the residence of Governor Phillip, commander of the First Fleet and founder of Sydney, and once a setting for lavish banquets and balls.

Today, all that is left of the original sandstone building is incorporated into inochi DesignLife's reimagining of the space, which celebrates its historical foundations by incorporating gorgeous raw materials such as stone, timber, steel and driftwood.

Now you can enjoy a banquet just as Governor Phillip once did — the colossal 16-seat 'Governors Table' is a 400-year-old oak antique perfectly suited for celebratory occasions. For a more intimate experience, there are smaller tables in the dining area. The restaurant is decorated with fresh, native Australian flora, and the effect is simultaneously elegant and pastoral.

We commence our feast with a selection of small plates. The grilled king prawns ($22) are a sophisticated version of 'shrimp on the barbie'. They are plump, succulent and have a complex smokiness. Accompanied by a delicious salsa verde and dipping aioli, this dish comes highly recommended.

The ceviche of snapper and octopus ($22) will be a veritable success over summer. It's zingy and light, with fine wisps of chilli, thinly sliced radish and a dressing of zesty lime. Sommelier Samantha Payne has arranged a considerable boutique wine list, with a focus on NSW. The Hunter Valley's Little Wine Company Vermentino ($11 glass) is crisp and matched perfectly with the array of fresh seafood entrees.

Meanwhile, to endure the wintery evenings, the hearty duck liver parfait ($18) is an excellent choice. The sweet sharpness of the pickled beetroot cuts through the richness of the duck, resulting in a palate-pleasing balance. Beef features for the larger plates. The tender braised short rib with a creamy parsnip puree ($34) is exquisitely marbled and complemented by the salty hint of anchovy in the Gentleman's Relish. The rustic side of crusted pumpkin wedge ($10) is caramelised to impeccable sweetness and drizzled with a sour goat's cheese sauce.

As a customary conclusion to a colonial feast, traditional English pudding is to be expected. A nod to our country's British heritage comes in the form of crumble with poached rhubarb ($15). The dark chocolate ganache tart is delicately sweetened by the orange curd and citrus marmalade ($15), while the ice-cream sandwich ($14) with spicy baked brandy snaps, smatterings of dulce de leche and delicate shavings of macadamia will be devoured before anyone asks, 'alright guv'nor?'.

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