This article was written for The Sydney Morning Herald blog.
Day two of a week full of Let’s Do Lunch in Sydney’s CBD, and this time, the destination is the Hilton’s glass brasserie, and pork belly is on the menu.
Chef Luke Mangan describes his French cuisine at glass as “clean and light, with a contemporary twist” – we’re not sure how light a piece of pork belly could ever be, but Mangan’s description could easily be targeted at the dining room itself. The design is lively but uncluttered, with a wonderfully high ceiling visually supported by Herculean pillars. A large floor-to-ceiling wall made of, well, glass, overlooks the Queen Victoria Building and floods the room with light while another wall of wine bottles in the middle serves both form and function.
We order bread ($3.50 extra) which prompts the waiter to reach for Mangan’s own olive oil label sitting at our table and pour a healthy amount into a dipping plate. The large, screw-cap bottle of olive oil feels slightly unsophisticated and bulky compared to the surrounds, but the oil works a treat with the hot, fresh, raisin-studded bread.
The pork itself arrives in a large bowl and looks wonderful. A palette of colours oscillates between green asparagus and herbs, golden crackling, white pork flesh, cream swede puree and roasted apples that hint of red.
Crackling is not made to be cut with a knife; we separate it from the meat, pick it up with our fingers and enjoy its crisp fattiness all on its glorious own. The plate however, is not warm and by now the rest of the dish is slightly cold. Since it’s delicious, we rush to finish before all remaining heat dissipates. A side of parmesan and “truffled” French fries ($12.00 extra) has a good deal of parmesan, but the truffle is actually truffle oil, which explains the missing specks. The waiter assures us the oil is infused with real truffles, but regardless, we’re still slightly hungry and the fries are tasty, so we finish those as well.
Our hour is almost over and the office beckons, so we order our coffee (included). glass’ short black is full-bodied, rich and smooth with hardly any unpleasant bitterness, one of the best we’ve tasted in the city. The food and the beautiful dining room are good enough to tempt us back to try the a la carte menu, but that short black alone is worth another visit.