Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar, Sydney CBD: Anniversary Celebration

From the moment you’re welcomed through the entrance to Sepia Restaurant in Sussex Street, you realise that you are in for something memorable. The restaurant was recently awarded two hats and the prestigious Chef of the Year award to Martin Benn at the 2011 Good Food Guide Awards.

Dark tones, plush carpet and comfortable banquettes against the wall create a warm and comfortable ambience. The dining room is dimly-lit with a high ceiling and down lights which seem to miss our table.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine BarSepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Laurent Perrier Brut-LP NV and Sepia dining room

Offering a la carte dining, a 10 course dégustation and a 4 course Spring Menu with two options per course, we choose the latter. We order both options of each course and swap plates to try everything on the menu.


We begin with an additional starter and toast to our wedding anniversary with a celebratory glass of Laurent Perrier Brut-LP NV.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Additional Starter: Oysters from NSW South Coast with lime and rice vinegar dressing

Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters from the South Coast of NSW are served on a bed of ice with lime and rice vinegar dressing.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar

The oysters have a natural briny flavour which is perfect on its own. The sauce is equally good with hints of citrus and sweetness. Only a few drops are needed as not to overpower the flavour of the oysters.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Amuse-Bouche: Scampi jelly with Wasabi and Soy

We are presented with an amuse-bouche of Scampi Jelly with Wasabi and Soy served in a small tumbler with a tiny wooden spoon. The jelly quickly turns to liquid in the mouth and releases a blend of delicate flavours.

When the first course is served, we begin our usual habit of swapping plates half way through the tasting.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 1, Option 1: “Scallop Sushi” – Nori Rolled Scallop, Pickled Ginger, Puffed Sushi Rice, Avocado Cream

Resembling truffles in low light, the scallops are plump and supple, complemented by the pink pickled ginger in jelly form. Beneath the leaf lies the avocado cream with speckles of puffed rice for texture. Overall, a pleasing dish that goes down well with a glass of Saiya Yukinobosha Junnai-Ginjo Saké.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 1, Option 2: Marinated Yellow Fin Tuna, House Made Ashed Goat Milk Fromage Blanc, Yuzu Jelly, Pickled Heirloom Carrots, Rhubarb

At first, I am not sure what to make of this dish, and what I mistake for a scattering of mushrooms over yellow fin tuna is the ashed goat milk fromage blanc. The cheese is mild in flavour and I can detect a hint of sweetness from the rhubarb.

For this course we choose a glass of the Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling. Before we get to taste the wine, our sommelier presents us with complimentary glasses of the 2008 Tasca d’Almerita ‘Leone d’Almerita’ from Sicily. The white wine pairs very well with both dishes, compared to our original choice.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 2, Option 1: Queensland Spanner Crab and Buckwheat Risotto, Mustard Butter, Shellfish Essence

I can smell the shellfish aroma permeating the air before this dish is presented on the table. The instructions from the chef are to mix the ingredients together to maximise taste. The dish packs a lot of flavours and I like the soft texture of the buckwheat risotto against the foam. Tempted as I am to continue with this dish without swapping with Mr G, I take note of how much he is enjoying his dish.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 2 Option 2 – Sake Braised Green Lip Abalone, Ginger Scented Egg Tofu, Chestnut Mushroom, Garlic Sprouts, Rocket Flowers

The Saké Braised Abalone is undoubtedly a sensual dish. It has a texture so soft that it falls apart in the mouth releasing delicate flavours. While the garlic sprouts and rocket flowers add another dimension, I am content to enjoy this dish without their hint of bitterness.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 3, Option 1: Roasted Scampi Tail, Poached Coral Trout, Leek, White Miso and Sea Urchin Emulsion, Beetroot Infused Trout Roe

Under the poor lighting, the intricate presentation of this dish is lost on me. Once I start editing the photographs, I come to appreciate the care taken in assembly, particularly that of the erect white asparagus. The Scampi and the coral trout flavours work well together and I like the creaminess from the sea urchin.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 3, Option 2: Sansho Roasted Pasture Fed Angus Tenderloin, Braised Short Rib, Buffalo Milk “Tofu”, Roasted Quinoa, Garlic Flowers

The grass-fed Angus is tender and moist with well-balanced flavours and complemented by the buffalo milk tofu. Our sommelier recommends the 2007 Gaia ‘By Gaia’ Agiorgitiko from Nemea in Greece to pair with this course. Not knowing what to expect of this wine, we are pleasantly surprised by the finesse of this drop. It has mild tannins and hints of red fruit and spice.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Palate Cleanser Crystallised witlof granita St-Augur and mascarpone cheese

I have a little taste of the palate cleanser and tell Mr G to prepare himself for an icy cold sensation followed by sweetness, saltiness and a hint of nuts. The dish has an amazing texture and the cold crunch coupled with the cheese makes it an unusual palate cleanser.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Pre-dessert: Rose jelly, pink grapefruit, thyme shortbread

I love the concept of pre-desserts although at times, they can out perform what is to follow. This dish is a little misleading at first. Take a spoonful of the pink grapefruit and you miss the deeper layer of the delightful rose jelly. It has a gentle sweetness offset by a hint of thyme. I can easily eat more of this jelly that. It reminds me of warm Mediterranean summers.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 4, Option 1: Strawberry Bavarois, Iranian Pistachio, Yoghurt Sorbet, Basil Seed and Elderflower

When desserts arrive with ‘Happy Anniversary’ in cursive writing on the plates, I am reminded of last year’s anniversary dinner at Le Jules Verne in Paris. There is always a moment of excitement when we are celebrating a special occasion. Light and smooth, the strawberry bavarois is encased in a crunchy white chocolate and the addition of pistachio to the yoghurt sorbet adds another element in texture.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Course 4, Option 2: “Chocolate Forest” Soft Chocolate, Lavender Cream, Sour Cherry Sorbet, Licorice

Meanwhile, I notice that Mr G is very quiet and I start to ponder if he’s going to share his “Chocolate Forest” with me. Complex flavours of Soft Chocolate, Lavender Cream, Sour Cherry Sorbet, Licorice, fennel, praline make this dish an exercise in discovery. Amazing textures leave a lingering taste and memory. This is the dish that is a thrill to eat and leaves you with a desire to return for more.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Petits fours: Mini macarons and apple jelly

We end with a plate of petits fours with apple jellies and mini macarons, and being a celebratory dinner, a Delord Bas Armagnac 1961.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine BarSepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Delord 1961 Bas Armagnac

There is nothing monochrome at Sepia. The restaurant offers the type of dining experience that engages all the senses. Service is welcoming, exemplary and the courses are perfectly paced. Although it is running at near full capacity on a weeknight, the staff are attentive and more than willing to answer any question and share in our excitement as we discover each dish. Our sommelier is particularly knowledgeable and his suggestions added to the overall enjoyment of the meal.

Sepia not only offers the kind of experience that delights and leaves a lasting impression that is shared with friends long after the moment. It begs the question why haven’t dined here before.

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar
Darling Park
201 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.