In Short: William Blue Dining in Sydney’s Rocks district gives a unique opportunity for diners to sample the talents of tomorrow’s world class chefs at an affordable price. The effort and attention of the student staff is evident in every aspect of the dining experience and the quality reflects the focus on providing diners with the best possible food and service. Tip: We tried the lamb, pork belly, and duck… simply superb!
In an unassuming part of The Rocks tucked between the fancy designer stores along George St, you could almost walk straight past the culinary haven cultivating the next crop of fine dining chefs, if you’re not paying close enough attention! But, if you’re lucky like us, you’ve walked through the glass doors of the previous home of Neil Perry’s Rockpool, and into the open space of William Blue Dining, that now is home to a student-run, fine dining restaurant.
Students at William Blue Dining get to practice their skills, whether it’s ‘front of house’ with food and beverage hospitality, or ‘back of house’ with the new breed of chef’s, hoping to follow in this establishment’s predecessor’s footsteps. And, for those of you looking to dine with champagne tastes, but have a beer budget, you too can enjoy the fine dining experience without the fine dining price tag! We are treated to a wonderful three-course menu on this rainy, lazy afternoon in Sydney and get prime position out the front by the window.
Our lovely server doesn’t waste any time guiding us through the menu, but as always, we leave it up to her to make the final choice, and also get a recommendation from the chef! So we start with a beetroot salad, which is a colourful display for the senses. Crispy pickled baby beetroot, laid in a garden of citrus gel, mustard leaves and walnut vinaigrette. Fresh orange segments boost the citrus base of this dish and complement the cornetto-filled creamed goat cheese perfectly.
Now fellow Coco & Viner Steve loves his pork belly, so he was definitely excited when the starter landed on the table with a perfect layer of crackling skin, and moist meat beneath. The accompanying Waldorf salad and calvados jus, gave this dish the right level of contrasting freshness.
At William Blue Dining chef’s recommendation, we have two decadent main dishes to indulge in. The first is the roasted lamb cutlets. Beautifully presented and cooked Milly Hill lamb cutlets are served with rillettes of lamb shoulder, confit tomato and crispy cauliflower. It was full of flavour, yet still light at the same time.
The pan-roasted duck breast is definitely a must-have when you come to visit. Served with a leek and mushroom pithvier, parsnip fondant, buttered silverbeet and lentils su puy, this did not disappoint and we both were mopping up anything that was left.
Ending our meal with a selection of decadent desserts seemed only fitting. We get to try the dark chocolate delice, and you can imagine the silence at our table as we dug into the burnt white chocolate, marshmallow whip, peanut butter brittle, and one of my all time favourites Turkish delight. It was light and rich at the same moment and never overly sweet.
Not to be outdone, the pecan pie played no second fiddle! The shortbread crust was buttery smooth and laid the perfect base for the pie that was served with buttermilk whipped cream, pumpkin spice ice-cream and candied pecans. Enough said, right?!
Don’t be fooled that these William Blue Dining ‘students’ are still learning their craft, I would say after our experience that they are more ‘refining’ their skills and we look forward to seeing them delight customers no matter where they end up in the world! Well done to William Blue for nurturing these future culinary stars!
*Coco & Vine dined as guests of William Blue Dining. However, all opinions and photos are our own.