Saturday, 23 March 2013

Selah, Circular Quay

Selah is situated about a minute's walk away from the high-tourist-density part of Circular Quay. It comes across as providing business-casual dining at a decent price, and if I were to go by the photos on the website alone, I would wholeheartedly agree and wonder why they aren't hatted. Upon visiting, I felt let down by the flavours - the portions are reasonable and the food is tasty, but the dishes lack that special something which makes you excited about the prospect of returning. I did, however, have a really nice glass of pinot noir, which makes me want to go back to sample more of the wines on their list.

The word 'selah' is used frequently in the Old Testament book of Psalms. It indicates a pause which one should use for reflection and deep thought. Selah the restaurant indeed cultivates a relaxed atmosphere, with its gentle lighting and simple furniture. As I visited at dinner time, we were amongst the non-corporate patrons, who filled the place with a gentle buzz. The waitresses were friendly enough... Just not as polished as the other higher-end restaurants I've visited recently (I do appreciate my constant refills of water).

First, the wine. I hadn't had a good red in quite a while and I settled on the 2011 Holm Oak pinot noir. A rich, bright red in colour, it was smooth on the palate and had a light fruity scent. Delicious and pleasant to drink.

Pinot noir ($11.00 a glass)
The soft and dense bread that arrived next was not bad. We were served organic sourdough, served with parmesan oil (cheese steeped in olive oil for a lengthy period of time) and little bits of rosemary.

Sourdough ($4.00)
I have started to refrain from eating all my bread before the entrees and mains in order to better utilise precious stomach space and any tasty leftover sauces from my mains. Which is why I am glad I could eat some of it with my entree. My friend and I shared an entree because we were scared we wouldn't be able to stomach 3 courses each. We were nearly right - 2.5 courses sufficed to make me really full. The entree that arrived was large and made us glad we decided to share - we had also mentioned our intention to do so to the waitress, so I'm not sure if they had thoughtfully adapted the entree to suit sharing or if it already comes like this. In any case, I think this was a highlight of the evening.

Trio of tuna ($22.00)
The spring roll pastry was not like the conventional deep fried vietnamese skin - it was crisper, breadier and thicker. It would have made quite a nice canape with the pairing of the skin with the threadlike meat of tuna. The spring rolls were served with a mayo-like rouille sauce.

Spring roll
I next tried the tuna tartare with cucumber. The tuna was fresh and similar to sashimi, except sliced into cubes and compacted into a little slab.

Tuna tartare
Finally was the seared tuna. The tuna itself was, as with the tartare, fresh. However, the tuna slices were a bit dry, which I thought was a pity.

Seared tuna with sesame & herb crust
My main was pan-baked saffron snapper with scallop stuffed zucchini flowers, quinoa and fennel salad, and vanilla bean shellfish bouillon (a broth). The fennel & quinoa salad were served at room temperature and quite refreshing for a warm night. The stuffed zucchini flowers were by far the highlights of the dish, crisp and lightly battered. The snapper itself was cooked well, but the bouillon sauce tasted slightly strange at first. I got used to the flavour quickly and found it enjoyable eventually, but that relates to my first paragraph about the flavours not being fantastic. At the risk of sounding like a certain judge on MKR, I enjoyed the generosity of the sauce on the plate. You can guess what the rest of my bread was soaking up!

Saffron snapper
For dessert, I ordered the hazelnut baklava, crunchy filo pastry with nuts inside. It was accompanied by slices of fig, vanilla bean ice cream, and Pedro Ximenez syrup. I loved the syrup, the baklava was crunchy and mouthwatering, and the figs helped to balance off the high amount of sugar I was enjoying. I have no complaints about the vanilla bean ice cream.

Hazelnut baklava ($15.00)
I also ordered tea - gunpowder tea! For a type of green tea, it was pretty thick and strong, but it went surprisingly well with the dessert.

China gunpowder tea ($4.00)
For completeness, these are my friend's dishes:

Spatchcock ($34.00)

Apple caramel custard, apple gel, butterscotch mousse & oatmeal ($15.00)
Verdict? It's alright.

Selah on Urbanspoon


  1. how was the Apple caramel custard, apple gel, butterscotch mousse & oatmeal?

  2. Hi Simon,

    I didn't try that dessert, but my friend found it disappointing - she reckons it lacked flavour and wasn't very memorable.