83 Percival Rd
Stanmore, NSW 2048
When it comes to world-class quality fine dining, Quay and Sixpenny are the two big names in Sydney. But whereas Quay is all about that harbour city glitz and glam, Sixpenny takes the complete opposite approach. Nestled in a quiet suburban street disguised as a refurbished house, dining at Sixpenny is low-key, even a little austere. However, it’s hard not to be won over by the seamless service, as well as the subtle yet endearing Australiana theme running through the experience. Unfortunately, despite its name, dining at Sixpenny does not in fact cost six pennies. But at $215pp for 6 courses, bookended by snacks and petite fours, as well as interspersed with not one but two bread courses, you can still easily consider it good value. With a menu heavy on seasonal produce and unusual ferments – the head chef loves them good tasty bacteria – used in all sorts of unlikely ways, it is truly innovative dining. Although it may sound cliché, there really is nothing else quite like it.
Rating: 18/20 – six pennies well spent.
Good to know: save room for the second bread course; it is without exaggeration one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever had.
Snacks are up first, and the Kangaroo Taco with Caramelised Cream, with its crisp sweet potato shell and decadent kangaroo tartare centre, is a delightful little starter.
The Spring Pea Tart with Whipped Goat’s Curd is as beautiful as a perfectly manicured garden, and with all the freshness. The kombu-infused shell adds an extra element of depth to the crisp, clean flavours.
The Pecorino Doughnut with Smoked Onion on the other hand is just pure indulgence. The brioche-based dough is light and fluffy but it’s really all about that pungent cheese sauce that oozes from the centre.
And here’s the first bread course. This may be ‘just’ sourdough, but there’s never been any other sourdough that I’ve eaten a whole loaf of in just one day.
The Yellow Fin Tuna with Pistachio Cream & Cos Lettuce is remarkable for its presentation alone, but the buttery slabs of tuna hidden underneath are not to be underestimated. Especially when combined with a nutty pistachio cream, and crisp, tangy slips of pickled daikon.
The Port Lincoln Calamari with Broccolini & Koji Butter is easily the most underwhelming-looking dish I’ve ever had at a fancy restaurant. But that just makes the amount of flavour this packs all the more insane. The butter-based broth is almost too rich, but the aeration process gives it a lightness on the palate that enhances, rather than overshadows the delicate twists of calamari. And the sprinkling of fried broccolini may seem arbitrary, but it actually adds a lovely earthy, roasty flavour to every spoonful. Just give me a pot of this and let me go ham.
Now let’s talk about the second bread course; more specifically, Yesterday’s Sourdough, which is not actually nearly as gross as it sounds. What they do is take yesterday’s bread, break it down into crumbs, then bake it until it’s caramelised. That’s then mixed in with a new batch of dough, along with a dash of golden syrup and coffee grounds (yes you heard me). And though I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is, there’s just something about the slightly honeyed, yeasty flavour, combined with the rich, chocolatey notes, that makes this absolutely irresistible.
The plating of the Murray Cod with Macadamia & Mustard Greens is a little bit of stark beauty on a plate. And although the elements themselves may seem equally as stark, they’re actually well more than the sums of their parts. Have a bit of a play around with the bits and bobs on the plate, but I would recommend combining the pearly fish (make sure you get a bit of the crisp skin!) with a daub of macadamia cream, and a small scraping of the squid ink, which is spiked with 10-month-old fermented koji.
Rounding out the savouries is the Rangers Valley Wagyu Beef Tri-Tip with Fennel and Spring Onion. Not quite as exciting as the other dishes, but it is a very nicely cooked bit of beef.
The Mead Vinegar Custard with Frozen Raspberries & Strawberry Consommé is the signature dessert, and as relatively simple as it may seem, the balance of flavours is just indescribable. It is creamy yet tangy, decadent yet fresh, simple yet endlessly complex. Easily the best dessert I’ve had all year, and possibly one of the best ever. And apparently I’m not even the only person who’s said that.
Compared to the custard, the Roasted Barley Koji Ice Cream with Pear & Marsala is a relatively simple pleasure, but still an excellent one in its own right. The nutty, spiced flavours, combined with the lush floral notes of stewed pear, makes for a deliciously festive treat.
Rounding out the night (though oddly, these were dumped onto our table halfway through our last course) were a plate of Petite Fours which were nothing but petite. The Orange Madeleine and Rum Canelé were both excellent, and would’ve gone fantastically with a cup of tea or coffee (which once again, was bizarrely offered when we were almost done), but it was the Dark Chocolate Rye Cookies that really finished us off, with its intoxicatingly rich, gooey centre that was like a brownie and self-saucing pudding all in one.
Sixpenny is known for their wines, but unfortunately their non-alcoholic options had nothing on Quay. The Sixpenny Poor Man Orange Shrub ($14) was too heavily balsamic, whilst the Lyre’s Spiced Cane Spirit & Ginger Beer ($14) just tasted like regular ginger beer, albeit a good quality one.