Fine dining and Five Star Hotels.

Mark Best’s Pei Modern launches in Sydney. Will it usher in a new concept to the Harbour City?

The Execs at the Four Seasons head office must be scratching their heads. The Four Seasons Hong Kong boasts two three-Michelin star restaurants; French and fashionable Caprice and Lung King Heen, that exquisite Cantonese fine diner. Yet in food obsessed Sydney, there just isn’t the same fine-food-in-five-star-hotel culture.

Though, full marks to the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney for trying. This is noodlies, Sydney food blog’s third visit to the hotel’s signature restaurants. Almost three years ago, it was to sample Stuart Doust’s new value-based fine dining menu for Kable’s. Then early 2013, noodlies came back to check out the new brasserie concept, The Woods by Hamish Ingram (Bar H).

pei modern four seasons hotel sydney

The Woods is now replaced by Pei Modern headed by Mark Best of Marque, which celebrated 10 successive Good Food guide three hats awards in 2013.

It’s obvious that the Four Seasons is deadly serious about having a fine diner and they think it’s Pei Modern. “Four Seasons Hotel Sydney is focussed on providing not only guests, but local Sydney residents with a world-class restaurant. Pei Modern is approachable, comfortable and above all delicious and was an obvious fit for Four Seasons” Katie Mitchell, Director of Marketing tells noodlies.

Mitchell uses “approachable” repeatedly in response to questions to emphasise Pei Modern’s relaxed atmosphere, pricing and their menu. Each dish features the main ingredient with minimal distraction.

Milly Hill Lamb Shoulder Cooked in Chamomile

The conversation-stopping Milly Hill lamb shoulder cooked in chamomile (above) is a case in point. On the bone and served in a rustic pan, the dish pays homage to the origin of the meat and emphasises its flavour and texture. The chamomile rounds off the meat rather than compete. Likewise Holmbrae Chicken, globe artichoke (below) unashamedly places the chook front-and-centre. This is meat for meat lovers, it’s not sliced until it’s unrecognisable, or camouflaged by heavy spices and sauces. Tender and well cooked, the chicken gets the full star treatment.

Humble chicken, yams and saltbush

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The aroma of grilled prawns by the beach from your last holidays arrives way before the attractive tiger prawns and slow cooked pineapple plate lands at the table. The burnt shell is a moreish contrast to the sweet white flesh.

Tiger Prawns & Slow Cooked Pineapple

It’s no surprise that a Mark Best menu would tempt meat lovers. But the six salads on the menu are no after-thought. I had two servings of my favourite on the night, La Luna goat cheese custard, asparagus (below). Elegantly simple, the lightly salted stems are crisp under the knife but melts in the mouth.

La Luna goat cheese custard, asparagus

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A close second and my pick for the most attractive salad of the night, young dandelion, blood orange, bronze fennel (below) is a carefree and refreshing combination of colours, tastes and textures.

Young Dandelion, Blood orange, Bronze fennel

For me at least, there’s nothing better than chasing down satisfying food with a sweet happy ending. And dessert is an experience at Pei Modern: meringue, white chocolate ganache, blueberries; vanilla ice cream, tamarillo and duck egg sauternes custard & crostoli (below front to back).

What do you call a row of desserts? @peimodern

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My dessert pick (though it’d be impossible to go wrong) is duck egg sauternes custard & crostoli; that ecstasy-inducing custard needs to be experienced to be believed.

Duck Egg Sauternes Custard & Crostoli

There’s no doubting Four Season Sydney’s ambition to realise an acclaimed signature restaurant within the hotel. Pei Modern is already a successful concept in Melbourne and Mark Best is a Sydney fine dining institution.

This latest attempt deserves to be successful, the right ingredients seem to be in place. My visit was on a Monday night and the trade was encouragingly brisk. But ask any restaurateur and they’ll remind you it’s competitive out there and tell you the big unknown is the fickle nature of Sydney’s dining patrons.

What do you think dear readers, Pei Modern will it be a hit or miss?

Pei Modern, Sydney
Four Seasons Hotel
199 George St, Sydney
(02) 9250 3160

Noodlies, Sydney food blog dined as a guest of Pei Modern.