It's Valentines night, a Monday night and we don't have a booking. Anywhere. I thought we could just take a cab down to Longrain early after work. They don't ever take bookings, we're in the mood for some good Thai and don't particularly mind waiting in their bar for a table. I checked their site earlier that week to make sure they don't have any Valentines Day events and there's nothing listed on the site. But it dawns on me at 5pm on Monday that maybe I should call, just in case, to see if they're open.
I never got the memo and apparently the memo never got to their website but on the 14th February every year, Longrain does take bookings and they're full to capacity all evening. Lucky I called. So after a few more restaurant rejections and a mad flick through the Good Food Guide we have a 6pm- 8pm booking at Sailor's Thai in the Ivy complex and we're on our way. Nothing like a time limit on a romantic date.
What I really want, as I walk down the laneway toward Ivy, is to steal a table at Felix or Ash St Cellar from some poor, unsuspecting, star crossed lovers. The restaurants look gorgeous and inviting but very, very full. Is the restaurant world trying to tell me something? Is it really necessary to book a table on the most romantic day of the year? It appears so and apparently everyone in Sydney knew that.
We head up the elevator to Sailor's and I remember suddenly I really felt like some Thai, the smell is amazing.
The restaurant is beautiful, Merivale knows what they're doing in the interiors department. No image I took was worthy to post to show you but I assure you it really is beautiful.
After being handed a white rose, which every lady dining at Sailor's received that evening we are, very efficiently, seated.
The first order arrives, our betel leaves, which I am particularly looking forward too. These ones are filled with crab, coconut, chilli, lime, ginger, peanuts and caramel sauce. They didn't quite have the same flavour explosion as others I've tried and I found the peanuts to be quite hard.
This was by far the stand-out dish of the evening. The calamari was twice cooked which it made crispy on the outside and cooked perfectly on the inside plus the five spice added a great kick, we wanted another plate of these babies!
Another great entree, this is kind of like a Thai style spring roll. The plum sauce is a great addition to the crispy layers of bean curd skin and the tasty prawn and chicken filling which is by no means dry.
I love chilli and I have a very high tolerance for spicy food, in fact i'm all about extra chilli on the side, but this packed a mean punch. More water please. It was described as 'hot and sour' and that rings true. The dish was that adrenalin to your taste buds you expect from a summery Thai dish. The apple eggplants were crunchy and absorbed the chilli jam dressing and the thin slices of rare grilled beef were smoky and delicious. It was addictive but unbearable at the same time. I heard the couple next to us order it and told them that it needs to come with a warning if you're chilli shy.
Our second main is the red duck curry with snake beans, tomato, grapes and apricot. We generally never order a curry but this one sounds too good to pass up. I love the sweetness of the grapes and apricots as it works really well with the game-y flavour of the duck. The lovely mix of sweet, spicy and smooth are perfectly balanced, thank goodness the heat of this dish isn't overpowering!
The waitress compliments our choice of dessert when we order the black sticky rice and caramel custard. I feel very proud of myself for making the pick because when this comes out, it's a heavenly masterpiece! The black sticky rice is chewy and sweet and the caramel custard is unbelievably creamy but not too rich. It ends the evening well and cools the fire that was still burning from our main.
The service on the night was very good and the wait staff must be extra attentive on Valentines Day because we were asked more than three times throughout the meal if we were enjoying it. Generally I had my mouth full or was gulping down water, so I didn't appreciate this all that often, once would have been enough.
Now I don't know if I would venture back to Sailor's but there's plenty more under the Merivale umbrella I am itching to try Ms G's, Felix, Ash St Cellar, Bistrode CBD... need me to go on?