Pei Modern, Sydney’s Four Seasons

For about the past three months, head Chef Mark Best of the newly refurbished and freshly invigorated Four Seasons Hotel restaurant in Sydney, Pei Modern, has been turning tables and keeping the guests both of the hotel and greater Sydney hugely entertained.

He’s not a singer, dancer or actor, but manages to inject – in a way I’ve never seen before – an element of humour into the atmosphere and food at Pei Modern that is as exciting as it is confronting. We’ll get to that later.

The new restaurant boasts more tables than one cares to count and a terribly nouveau open plan kitchen that guests can peer inquisitively into to witness their meals so professionally prepared.

Equipped with a full team of wait staff, dedicated and knowledgable sommeliers and a quiet enough environment for – as was my situation – old friends who’ve not seen each other in three years to talk for a good four hours, you know they’re onto something good.

Pei Modern round table

The menu is comprised of a generous and varied range of tapas and entree-like options, followed by the mandatory mains selection and desserts.

Our thrilling waitress for the evening suggested a smorgasbord of tapas options, which swamped the table in fine form.

Beginning with Clyde River rock oysters from the South Coast of NSW we then hopped with gusto into a further few selections of raw seasoned yellowfin tuna on diced watermelon with ginger: an interesting combination of flavours but more than edible nonetheless.

Six pieces of salt cod croquettes then followed, bringing a lightly crumbed and fried respite from the cooling ocean flavours of the dishes before. An interesting point to note was the distinct lack of a fishy taste, meaning the fish was as wholesome and fresh as a restaurant like Pei Modern would allow.

More flavours of the ocean were to follow in the way of large tiger prawns, vadouvan – a derivative of masala – and caramelised yoghurt to cut through the prawn flavour. It worked a treat.

Pei Modern Tiger prawns, slow-cooked pineappe, vadouvan

Finishing with beef tartare, local sea urchin and horseradish on crispy, thinly sliced toast portions, it had felt as though dinner was over. Until of course our waitress mentioned that was only the beginning and heralded a welcome to the most adventurous and confronting side of the Mark Best style cooking that Pei Modern is so proud to show off.

Pei Modern Ricotta dumplings, zucchini flowers

A dissected Holmbre chicken with squash and beans, still on the pan it was cooked in – and still with its head by its side – made its way to our table. Not the first thing you expect to see served at a restaurant, but the flesh of the bird was delicious nonetheless. The meat was as tender as the best of them, complemented perfectly by the watery nature of the squash and fresh crack of the beans.

Pei Modern Whole holmbrae chicken, yams and squash

All the while with glasses of Bourgogne Cuvee Saint Vincent from 2012 and Padrillos Malbec from 2013, dinner it felt was over.

Until vanilla ice-cream, donut peach and bitters and spiced doughnuts in chocolate, whey and butterscotch topped everything off. The perfectly refined manner in which the rustic desserts were formed and served made for a finessed touch on a wholesome days-of-old-type dessert that would otherwise have been of another nature to the tapas and mains.

An outstanding experience at Pei Modern that you’re unlikely to find in any other hotel restaurants in Sydney in comparison. The ambience, dark mood lighting, refreshing pulsation of the diners and adventure of the chef made for an experience that when next in Sydney, I’ll be sure to revisit.

Pei Modern is in both Melbourne and Sydney and operates for lunch and dinner: Monday to Friday 12pm – 3pm and Monday to Saturday 5:30pm – 10:30pm.

Call the Sydney restaurant for a reservation on 02 9250 3160.

Pei Modern Salmon tail cooked on the bone, samphire and rouille

Pei Modern Pizza Oven

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