Time stands still in the Art Deco-inspired The Black Swan on Cecil Street, save for the recent arrivals of head chef Alysia Chan and bar supervisor Joanna Lee.
Fresh from a butchery internship at Feather and Bone Providore in Sydney, Chan, formerly of restaurant-bar Crackerjack, returns to helm the kitchen at The Black Swan. Now, more than ever, she is passionate about nose-to-tail-dining and running a minimum waste kitchen. It all makes sense when you trace this chef’s history from the days that she did a stage at St. John, UK, to working at meat-centric restaurants Wolf and Meatsmith.
We see her putting knowledge to practice in the new menu at Black Swan. For instance, beef fat is rendered from steak trimmings for the beef fat butter that goes with housemade sourdough ($8), while the run-off from Stella Artois beer is used to add depth of flavour to the broth for her dish of Venus clams ($24).
Under the Chophouse Selection on the menu, she showcases secondary cuts with just as much gusto as she does primary ones. The American Mishima Reserve grain and grass-fed flat iron ($60 per 250g), for instance, is juicy and tender, while the rich flavour of the Australian grass-fed vintage beef ribeye ($60 per 300g) deepens and unfolds as you savour every bite.
For one who’s keen on butchery, the thought of charcuterie’s never far away. Chan’s interest in the craft shows itself in the experimental charcuterie platter ($38). She has left sous chef Richie Tam in charge of the project, who has included home-cured meats such as guanciale (pork jowl) and lardo (pork fat) for a start.
Other adventurous touches appear in dishes such as the grilled Maine lobster with black barley and corn risotto ($60) where there is an interesting play of textures, with the soft, tender lobster meat contrasting with the chewy black barley. Paired with the romesco sauce, the sweetness of the lobster comes through even more. Among the desserts, the roasted pineapple ($12), inspired by tiki cocktails, stands out for its refreshing and delicious combination of rum caramel, honeycomb and brown butter ice cream. Equally yummy is the twix tart ($12), Chan’s homage to the Twix candy bar, made up of dark chocolate ganache, sea salt caramel, cookie crumb and Chantilly cream.
On the beverage side of things, New Zealander bar supervisor Joanna Lee says she tends to use classic methods to bring out the flavours of the drinks, but she does favour punchy flavours. Her time at previous bars in London and Auckland has also given her a handle on creating her own fruit, vegetable and spice infusions. In Black Swan’s cocktail menu, she presents signatures such as Cecil Sour ($19), a riff on the classic Clover Club that is elevated with a housemade berry shrub and sloe gin, as well as the Gin & Yuzu Martini ($21), which offer a citrusy melange of flavours that refreshes the palate.
19 Cecil Street. Tel: 6438 3757