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Saturday, October 18, 2014

PEI Modern comes to Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

After a massive refurbishment and rebuild of the ground floor of Sydney's iconic Four Seasons Hotel, the space will transform again after just two years operating as The Woods restaurant.

'Elegant and contemporary' space for new Pei Modern Sydney
After some cosmetic reworking, the space now houses Mark Best's Pei Modern restaurant, a concept imported from his stylised namesake eatery in Melbourne along with team leader, Matt Germanchis. Best is well known in Sydney's elite dining circles for his acclaimed establishment, Marque, in Crown Street.

Pei Modern can seat up to 180 guests in the new “elegant and contemporary space” that is just as suitable for a private evening meal as it is for business dining and lunches.

The menu, while simple, unpretentious and uncomplicated is heavy on culinary skill, use of local and seasonal produce well-presented and artfully prepared.



Best is in house at the moment while the kitchen prepares his new Sydney-centric menu. And his team are coming up to speed pretty quickly.

“Local produce is the backbone of our menus and while it is constantly changing to match seasonal surrounding elements, our menus are only ever a 'style guide' we apply to what is available,” says Best.

“The strength of Pei Modern is simplicity. It's a local, organic, slow and wholesome reinvention of bistro foods. There's no drizzling, dotting or frothy garnishes. It's simple yet bold and all about the food.”

While the ingredients may be simple and plain, the final result is anything but.

Our group of fussy diners were treated to a representative array from the menu that demonstrated Best's imaginative take on regular fare.

We opened with Clyde River rock oysters from the NSW south coast. Bigger than most rock oysters I remember, but still with that gnarly, rough hewn look and intense flavour that makes the larger Pacific plate oysters taste like gooey nothing by comparison.

The beef tartare mixed with sea urchin and horseradish on toast followed by burrata (a creamy mozzarella mix), green cauliflower and egg yolk jam had many of us double-taking as these vivid concoctions hit the table. But there wasn't a plate that went back to the kitchen that wasn't licked clean. The ricotta dumplings with kale and hazelnuts was just showing off. Kale is like a type of headless wild cabbage, super healthy and finding favour in modern kitchens.

The Milly Hill lamb shoulder came straight from the mallee root fired oven, cooked with chamomile and big enough to share. Again, the bones looked like they had been flensed with a scalpel, every morsel of fragrant meat extracted with surgical dexterity.

Accompanying wines challenged our palates too with such obscure varietals as Tscharke's Girl Talk Marananga Savagnin. This grape is a close relative of the pinot and produces a beautiful crisp white with just the right citrus and stone fruit that won't smother other delicate food flavours.

The lamb was matched perfectly with a 2013 Best's Great Western Young Vine Pinot Meunier. Again an unfamiliar varietal for me, with more weight and berry flavours than a light pinot noir but not the palate-smashing heaviness of a Cabernet or Barossa Shiraz. James Halliday gave this a 93.

As if we needed any more, but the treats kept coming. We finished with the famous spiced doughnuts, blood orange and whey butterscotch challenged by the meringue with white chocolate ganache and blueberries. This sweet medley was chased down with sticky Moss Wood Margaret River Botrytis Sémillon.

The attraction of Best's creation is, in my mind, the meats. The wood-fired oven and grill enhance the flesh like no simple hotplate can do. The consistency and flavour is something else again and the creative combination of unusual herbs and spices brings new life to otherwise standard fare. If someone tries the 800g Angus T-Bone, please post a picture!


Now open
Settle in for a long lunch or a dash in for a quick and tasty bite. Pei Modern is as versatile as it is satisfying.

Eat Up

Pei Modern Sydney is now open for reservations and taking bookings for lunch and dinner.
Reservations can be made by email to sydney@peimodern.com.au or call 02 9250 3160.
Lunch: Monday to Friday 12pm - 3pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 5:30pm - 10:30pm
For latest menu and bookings, see www.peimodern.com.au



Report by Roderick Eime
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