Arras, Walsh Bay

Don’t be fooled when you hear chef Adam Humphrey’s thick Yorkshire accent. He may sound like he knows only stews and pork pies, but the man is a genius.

Humphrey says Yorkshire pudding is too easy, so doesn’t bother putting it on his English-inspired menu at Arras. His creative menu includes fish and chips and mushy peas and rice pudding, but not like we’ve ever seen it. With partner Lovaine Allen (who earned her front-of-house stripes at France’s three-star Michel Bras in Laguiole and The Fat Duck in Berkshire before turning to pastry), Humphrey prefers to keep the English touches subtle. The menu errs on the french, but with Australian ingredients, French creativity, and a wonderful English sense of humour.

Dishes like ‘breakfast risotto’, an amuse bouche, are a nod to the full English breakfast, with a quail yolk, which has been cooked sous vide so is runny as it should be, homemade brown sauce and crispy paper-thin bacon included.

An entree, ‘the raw and the cooked’, is a glass plated pallet involving 40 different types of vegetables done in different ways. Pureed and pickled vegetables sit with micro herbs and tiny violet flowers, transparent thinly-sliced beetroot and radishes, curls of raw cucumber and in-season baby peas. (More on the food at Arras in an upcoming post…. )

And there is nothing stodgy about the location. Just a few doors down from Sydney Theatre, in the uber cool Walsh Bay (where Fratelli Fresh has just opened, and where Cate Blanchette spends a lot of time at work), Arras is warehouse-tastic, and the interior design of the restaurant reflects that industrial edge and history.

For dessert, the fun has really exploded in a sugar-coated crack of glorious colours, textures and light-as-air pots and creams. A popcorn souffle with its own little side bag of popcorn, and a funpark-inspired pink plate including rice pudding and whipped pink jelly, twirls of fluorescents, rhubarb slides and tiny cubes of jelly. There’s a Coulant au Chocolat, by Michel Bras (bottom left), a hot melty pudding with an outer cakey exterior and a separate runny middle sitting within (this is not your not-quite-done chocolate fondant). There is even a tube of chantilly cream served in the ‘adolescent breakfast’ that you can squirt on to your chocolate as if it will do your teeth some good after all that sugar.

Oh yes, and the petit four. There’s rum and raisin chocolate and little toffee lollypops and coconut ice. Humphrey makes eating out so much fun.

{photos by Kate Gibbs}

Restaurant Arras
24 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay NSW ; (02) 9252 6285
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