It is now three years since a noder review of the Palisade Restaurant has taken place, and some noders may be wondering if sneff is still tantalising our tastebuds with the same flair and quality as ever... the answer is yes, he is, and for your delectation I now present a little tale of gastronomic happiness.
I arrived on foot from The Rocks at a little after five on Saturday afternoon in the company of Phoenix, a gentleman of epic proportions and legendary gallantry, and the Emperor, a fussy, recently de-closeted law student from Austria. The narrow red-brick frontage of the Palisade Hotel beckoned us into its tiny downstairs pub and there we waited until six, chatting with the friendly barman and warming up with a few drinks by the fire.
At six we made our way up the tiny winding staircase, all three of lugging the loot from our day at the markets and Kinokuniya. The waitress, one of the best I know, showed us to a table overlooking the coathanger and presented us with Italian bread, little bowls of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a wine list. We admired the elegant stamped paper adorning the tables and noticed that the specials list is no longer written above the fireplace on antique mirrors.
Having warned sneff that some strange internet people were visiting him again, the waitress offered us both menus and recommendations as we ordered. I will now describe for you the miracles that descended from the kitchen to my humbly grateful palate:
Scallops served with a buttery, garlic-laced pesto. Phoenix could not be persuaded to describe his enjoyment nor the ingredients as he was transfixed with a glassy smile on his face.
Calamari, served with pearl couscous, cress and fresh olives, piled on slices of oakheart tomato, with a barely-there dressing of the best olive oil and vinegar that I may have imagined, due to its delicate taste. The thick, chewy texture of the cress nicely highlighted the texture of the calamari, and the big beautiful pearls of couscous were silky and decadent.
Sneff recommended the Golden Schnapper, towering over a bed of grass green peas and carrots sliced so thin they were translucent, and the whole embraced by a cream sauce that whispered to your tongue that it contained cheese, but denied it in your stomach... One of the best pieces of fish I have eaten, and the simplicity of the accompaniments allowed it to show off unhindered by fuss.
Martini-cured Salmon, served with something that escaped my notice as I was busy eating every individual pea on my plate. Did I mention that I have never in my life liked peas in any form? The Emperor waxed lyrical and lawyerish about the salmon, but by that time I had moved onto the salad and just didn't listen...
A salad of dark, passionate rocket with bocconcini cheese and oakheart tomatoes. Oakheart tomatoes are like a tomato with the acid and afterburn removed. Where a tomato normally announces its presence to your tastebuds by yelling and throwing molotov cocktails at your tongue, the oakheart politely knocks, and like a supermodel posing as a vacuum cleaner salesman, before you know it you are serving it a cup of tea and signing away your next three pay cheques in bemused wonder that something so lovely could be sitting right in your living room.
The vinegar that sneff uses for this salad is a Cabernet Sauvignon that could almost pass as last week's dinner party leftovers that have just turned in the fridge yesterday.
Potatoes, sneff style. These are best described as french fries that have died and gone to heaven. They are boiled before being deep fried and are seasoned with sea salt and rosemary before they are brought to your table.
When ascorbic created chocolate fondant, he did the world a great service. I have never eaten a better chocolate pudding, and despite sneff's best efforts he has never convinced me to forgo the pleasures of this dessert. Indeed, on this occasion he resorted to bringing out a second dessert:
This airy green concoction has not yet been noded, but I have in my posession a small card with destructions as vouchsafed to me by the chef himself... and when he nodes it, as he intends, I will put up a proper link.
This sorbet doesn't taste like alcohol, or like licorice. At first glance it seemed to be a green tea or mint sorbet and when I tasted it I could not begin to guess at the ingredients creating this seamlessly smooth flavour.
After such extremes of enjoyment, we were delighted when the chef came to chat to us after our meal, and we were able to sample ingredients, rave insensibly about the food and peek at the latest orchid photos on the kitchen wall. As always, the staff at the Palisade, from the waitress who is always smiling to the kitchen hand who provided the Portugese guitar music we liked so much, are the whipped cream on the chocolate fondant.
Rating: 4 1/2 Chocolate Orgasms