If there was one dining experience that got me really excited about eating in Sydney it would be this one. Because I was unable to experience a dinner at the famous Tetsuya’s that EVERYONE in Sydney talks about, my local friend suggested trying Three Blue Ducks.
Now being a foreigner, I knew nothing about Tets (as the locals call it). But it honestly didn’t take much research to understand its fame. Tets is one of Sydney’s finest and highest rated restaurants, having earned the title for 6 consecutive years as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants. The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awarded it the highest possible achievement every year from 1992 until 2009. It only dropped in 2010 to a rating of two hats out of three, as reviewers felt as though Tets had not offered anything new/creative over the years. But why change something that is already perfect? Serving a set 10 course dinner menu at $210 Aud per person, this isn’t your casual dinner. And even if you had the money to spend, good luck getting reservations anytime within the next year. But don’t worry guys, this one’s on my bucket list.
What does a little quaint cafe by the beach have to do with the fine Tets? Three Blue Ducks has been coined “Tets by the Sea”, with a kitchen that combines the skill of three former Tetsuya’s chefs. But don’t come here expecting a Tets dining experience. Instead, you’ll find yourself in a completely unpretentious, laid back cafe with just REALLY good food. Food that is crafted with the skill level you’d expect from some really talented chefs.
The whole restaurant is a like a project where everyone in the restaurant contributes. With wall murals painted by one, and wooden tables and chairs crafted by another, you can really feel the love that went into this place.
But my favorite part? The alley. Who would think that it would be such an amazing setting for a meal. It was the perfect place to take a break from the sun. Shaded between two brick walls, sitting on hand crafted tables and chairs, staring at creative wall murals to your left… sipping juice from a fresh coconut. That must have been a moment for me. And just looking up, I could see little lights draped from wall to wall, this place must be even more amazing at night. Lucky they are now offering a dinner menu.
Atmosphere was amazing. I can’t rave about it enough, though I’m not too sure dining in the cafe itself would have given me the same experience. That being said, they do have an open kitchen, so maybe that would be another experience in itself. Because we were pretty much sitting outside of the cafe, service was a bit slow. I guess being “laid-back” has its cons. It does take some effort to wave down someone to take your order, as the waiters do not frequent passing through the alley way often. Lucky we got our fresh coconuts and they occupied some of our time while we waited.
We arrived there on a Sunday after 12pm, when they offer their lunch menu. Now going to a place like this, I did not want to order the average everyday brunch/lunch offerings you can get at any cafe. I was lucky my friend had the same intentions in mind as I had. With that, we ordered the crispy skin barramundi (quite a common white fish offered in Australia) and the blue swimmer chilli crab.
Asparagus with Crispy Skin Barramundi and Tomato, Basil Salsa - 5/5
I’m a huge fan of tomatoes. And I feel like I’ve mentioned this way too many times before. Looking for something light, I ordered the barramundi. The fish itself was perfectly cooked. Nice and flaky, with a skin that was crisped to perfection. How many ways can I say perfect in this blog post? Sorry for my limited vocab of adjectives to describe these dishes. Now anyone can make a good fish, or at least that should be standard at a good restaurant, but the star of this dish for me was the tomato salsa. I can’t exactly remember the flavour of the tomatoes but I remember making the comment “WOW. They can just serve me this salsa on a plate and I’d be happy.” Perfectly (oh there I go again) diced super sweet tomatoes paired with the right amount of lemon and herbs combined to make a sweet and tangy salsa that was AGAIN perfect with the fish. My friend commented that the asparagus was not necessary as part of the dish, but regardless, I felt it was cooked to the the right level of tenderness to pair with this light yet super punchy flavoured dish. The portion looks small in the picture, but I felt it was the perfect size to allow you to savour this dish. Definitely take your time to enjoy this one.
Blue Swimmer Chilli Crab with Roti and Coconut Sambal - 5/5
Where do I start? I ate this dish months ago yet I can still remember how it tasted. The thin citrus-y flakes of coconut over a sambal sauce that was not at all heavy or overpowering. The spicy chilli flavour of the sauce combined with the zing from the lemon absolutely perfectly complimented the light meat of the crab. Not only do I remember the flavours, but I still remember the texture of the dish. I don’t remember ever having something this memorable. My friend and I got a bit messy eating this dish, but neither of us really cared. It was just too delicious. The roti that came with the dish did nothing for me though. As it was meant to complement the sauce, a more absorbant media would have been appreciated. Instead, the roti acted more like a “woobly spoon with leaks than a sponge” (as quoted from my friend). But even though we struggled, we still managed to use it as an excuse to wipe up every drop of that delicious sambal sauce.
Overall:Like I said, the overall dining experience was an amazing treat for me. I'd even say it was my favorite meal in Sydney thus far. The food, the setting, the overall experience was everything that makes me excited about sharing a good meal with someone. And I'm super excited at the prospect of revisiting them for dinner next time I'm back.
*Our scoring system is out of 5. With 5 being the highest score.