We'd been meaning to try YELLOW since co-owners, chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hilderbrandt, switched the menu over to an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu in February 2016. Sister restaurant Bentley was already known for its vegetarian menu and degustation, but the bold move grabbed headlines over summer. So we took the opportunity on a special occasion in late May 2016 to sample the 5-course vegetarian menu, and were in no way disappointed.
The first thing you'll notice about YELLOW, tucked away at the lower end of Macleay St in Potts Point, is that it is not all that noticeable. From the sign on the front that says "This is a brick" to the exposed fixtures and amenities, the atmosphere screams "humble", even if Head Chef Adam Wolfers' food is anything but.
After ordering a Kingpin Double Red Ale from the modest but quality selection of beers, pre-dinner breads were served along with an appetiser from the bar snacks selection. The Baby Red Cos, on a bed of caper and avocado puree, is designed so that the latter is scooped up with the former. It's a fun and tasty snack that went well with drinks, and it was all we could do to not polish off all the bread and ruin our dinner prematurely.
The first course is the Celeriac, Sesame and Shark Fin Melon. The strands of melon are so named for their resemblance to the texture of Shark Fin, but despite the simple presentation and colour (or lack thereof), the sesame sauce and celeriac gives it a robust flavour.
The first major flavour bomb of the menu is the Kohlrabi, Enoki Mushroom and Vegetable Broth. Kohlrabi is a cabbagey vegetable that resembles a turnip in its natural form, but YELLOW arranges it in a delicate series of thin folds that almost look like pasta. Hidden underneath are some enoki mushrooms, heated and soaked through with the delicious vegetable broth, which is a toe-tingling injection of warmth that would stand out on any menu.
The hands-down favourite dish in our minds was the Black Rice, Celtuce and Koji. Placed on the table, it looks like a forest floor, but that's not the only surprise. There's a smokey sensation that you can smell before it even hits your lips, and continues to give good mouth-feel (yeah, we went there) for the duration.
As the sun begins to set on the degustation, and the last savoury dish is served, what lands on our plates looks like a little ball of sunshine. A bright egg yolk on a crunchy bed comes together with an emulsion of pepitas and persimmon, shadowed under the crescent moon of the spaghetti squash. The egg bursts in a molten ooze over its crunchy bed, while the squash lives up to its name by gently pulling apart in fine strands that absorb the sauce. It's a meal by itself, and that's the literal truth: it's served as a main on the a-la-carte menu.
There's almost too much of a good thing at YELLOW. The alternative 7-course menu has all of this, but adds a Young Fennel, Black Garlic and Kale dish as the second course, along with a Rhubarb, Toasted Rice Custard and Walnut dish as the pre-dessert item. We were getting full by the time the squash hit the table, but our Dessert Stomachs™ kicked in for that divine parfait. It's an unusual blend of sweet and creamy with just a hint of heat (thanks to that Sichuan), and a refreshing way to polish off a meal.
Being too full at the end of a meal is hardly a major complaint, as it meant every single bite was gobbled up. Plus at a mere $70 per person for the 5-course (adding $60pp for wine pairing if desired), it's also one of the best value degustations. The 7-course is $95pp (plus $80 for the wine pairing) but we reckon that's almost too much food. If you plan to do it, definitely take a big appetite. The vegan option is very similar at the moment, dropping the egg yolk from the squash dish and substituting the parfait for that Rhubarb with Toasted Rice Custard and Walnuts. We will definitely be going back in the next few seasons.
YELLOW is located at 57 Macleay St Potts Point, Sydney NSW 2011 | yellowsydney.com.au