I tend to leave the making of New Years Eve plans to the last minute, as there’s always so many other things going on as the year draws to a close. This year we chose to avoid the pain of standing around in heels at a bar, and instead went for the three-course meal at the Trustee Bar & Bistro. At $89 per head and with a very enticing menu, it seemed a much better option than paying the same or more at other venues for drinks and a few paltry canapÃ©s.
With dim ‘mood lighting’ and having to put away my flash after getting sideways looks from other patrons, I’m afraid these photos are horribly grainy – but hopefully you’ll get the general idea.
We were greeted at the door with the stunning sight of the glass enclosed wine case, complete with a ladder for reaching the top – I saw a waiter clamber up to grab a bottle from the top at one point, someone must have been celebrating with the good stuff! Our table of ten and friends on an adjacent table took up a slightly raised level, which made us feel quite special. The tables were set with tableware, the set menu, and a party horn which provided a lot of amusement through the night.
By the time our whole party had arrived, greeted each other and taken photos (I was determined this time to take photos of everyone before we ruin our makeup and start drinking too much) and were ready to order, it was well past 9pm. I’m not sure if this lateness was the cause of the issues we experienced throughout the night, although our companion table who arrived and ordered promptly at 8:30pm did mention a lot of the same things.
For entrÃ©e, almost everyone at the table ordered the scallops option – who can resist plump scallops with truffle oil? Unfortunately it seems that almost no one dining there tonight could resist them either, as our waitress returned to say that there were none left. Our disappointment was soothed somewhat by a couple of free bottles of cava, but we all agreed that given the choice we would have much rather had the scallops!
confit duck pastry, citrus gel, apple baby fennel slaw, aioli
Instead most of us opted for the duck entrÃ©e, consisting of confit duck packaged spring roll style in pastry, with a refreshing apple and fennel slaw. The pastry was not quite as crisp as I would have liked and the duck slightly on the dry side, but the slaw provided a refreshing balance and citrus gel paired perfectly with the duck.
truffle mushroom profiterole, goats cheese
After finishing our entrÃ©e we realised that the amuse bouche was still yet to arrive. After questioning our (somewhat surly) waitress, she snapped “What? You mean they haven’t come yet?” before giving an exasperating sigh and walking off to retrieve them for us, then plonking them down on the table and leaving without comment (I think someone was a little sore about having to work on NYE). It’s possible that our running around at the beginning of the night didn’t help with getting our dishes in the correct order, but reaction felt unwarranted.
The profiteroles themselves did not have a luminescent yellow centre as my photo would suggest (that’s just bad lighting), but had a light and fluffy choux pastry surrounding goats cheese flecked with truffle. The rather mild cheese was a good medium to bring through the truffle, which I’m always a big fan of.
pearl barley risotto, white cheese, pear, rocket, radicchio
cone bay barramundi, peas, pancetta, crispy shallots, caper butter
beef fillet, carrot puree, potato, grilled asparagus, red wine jus
I’m always curious but wary of ordering risotto in restaurants – it so often misses the mark and ends up a bit on the boring side. So I’m not sure why I decided to order it for my main – possibly because no one else did, and I wanted to see how it was executed at the Trustee. It was, unfortunately, as bland as I had feared – the cheese component was either non-existent or completely tasteless, and I didn’t discover the splash of truffle oil which wasn’t stirred through until I’d eaten half of it. The pearl barley was cooked perfectly, it was just lacking in flavour. I also didn’t spot any radicchio, unless it was somehow blended through or worked into the dressing. On the plus side, the risotto was carby enough a meal to soak up the alcohol and I wasn’t hungover the next day!
It’s a bit difficult to really impress with fish, and The Boy’s only real comment was that it was nice, but a bit salty. Most of our table ordered the beef fillet, which sadly turned out to be quite disappointing. The fillets were cooked with varying degrees of accuracy – one ‘medium rare’ was definitely very rare, and another was close to well done. I know it can be tricky to keep consistency when cooking such a large number of steaks, but I can’t help comparing it to Must Winebar, which did an amazing job of the beef fillets at my work Christmas party. I think everyone was ready to excuse this anyway, but it turned out that everything on the plate was just room temperature instead of warm. In particular the potatoes suffered, with the crumbed exterior ending up cold and chewy. For the main course in a fairly expensive meal, it was very disappointing. I had thought that it was due to our lateness in ordering, but I heard similar complaints from our companion table who received their mains well before us.
There also seemed to be some confusion in the ordering, as our waitress insisted that one of our group had ordered the beef, when she definitely ordered the barramundi and actually doesn’t often eat red meat at all. She was very good natured about it and took the beef anyway, but if it was me I wouldn’t have been as forgiving!
the trustee chocolate snickers bar, pistachio praline ice cream
triple cream brie, apple paste, lavosh
Dessert, thankfully, ended the meal on a high note. Everyone ordered the sweet dessert, except for The Boy who I talked into ordering the cheese so I could try both! The pistachio ice cream tasted of real pistachios rather than the almond essence of lesser pistachio ice creams, and the ‘snickers bar’ involved layers of chocolate, lightly salty peanut butter and a deliciously light and crisp biscuit base. I felt that the raspberry gel didn’t really go with the rest of the dish, and seemed more like a decorative afterthought (but I did eat it anyway!).
I traded half my dessert for a few bites of The Boy’s cheese (I looked away for a second and it was all gone!), which had a very strong, salty flavour compared the bries that I’m used to, and paired nicely with the sweet apple paste.
After our meal we realised that the restaurant had started to empty – it seems a lot of people planned to just dine there, then ring in the new year at another location. The result was a fairly quiet, low key countdown, which I think disappointed some in our group but was a bit of a relief to me – I really don’t like crowds! But there was cava, party horns, and a bunch of my favourite people, and that was enough for me.
All up: Although I was determined to not let it dampen our night, our experience was very disappointing and I don’t think I’ll be returning to the Trustee. Small things can be excused, one individual isn’t representative of the service standard as a whole, and I understand that you can’t really judge a restaurant by how it performs at a function, but there were just too many issues to call it a good experience. I thought that the complimentary bottles of cava were a wonderful and not at all necessary apology for the lack of scallops, but the later issues with the mains and surly waitress quickly erased any restored esteem for the place. It’s particularly sad as my first experience there was extremely positive, but that was a weekday lunch – it seems that either the Trustee caves under the pressure of a busy function, or has diminished in quality since my last visit. I think I’ll be cooking at home for next New Years Eve dinner!