St Valentine’s Day, feast day of lovers, is on the horizon and I must admit, I'm a hopeless romantic. Any hint of a love story and I’m hooked.
Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson, Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy, indeed Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, Henry De Tamble and Clare Abshire, Peekay and Tandia, Catherine and Heathcliff, the list goes on...right through to, ahem, Edward and Bella – all of their stories are well worn and dog-eared on my shelves.
Add to this list of timeless couples, Christine Daaé and her Phantom of the Opera.
I first saw Phantom back at Sydney’s Theatre Royal as a teenager and I sobbed and sobbed at the tragic ending. I get quite affected when the two central characters don’t end up together.
Anyway, I was very excited to see that the sequel, Love Never Dies, was coming to Sydney. A good sequel always promises a revival of love side-railed, and the tickets made great Christmas presents for Mum and my little sister, Danielle (she of fashionista blog thatswatshewore fame). Of course, I got a ticket too!
Before our date with Phantom, we booked in for an early dinner at French bistro, Felix.
Anyone stuck for ideas on Valentine’s Day, this combo is genius if you can snare a table and last minute tickets.
As bistros go, Felix is quite a large room with a lot of tables crammed a bit too close together for my liking – no doubt catering for the lunch trade. But the details, like the little rose fringed lamps on each table and the subdued lighting at night, make it feel elegant and intimate.
We were seated next to the restaurant’s gorgeous glass cellar on one side, with its rows of French Champagnes and Pinot Noirs and its gleaming silver grape door handles, and the equally impressive fresh seafood bar on the other.
We began with glasses of pink vintage bubbles, a dozen Sydney Rock oysters and the chicken liver pate with current relish and cornichons, to share.
The pate was sublime. It was rich and creamy without being overly gamey and it had a delicious hint of port throughout which went soooo well with the current relish. So. Good.
For main, I ordered the special of braised beef cheeks with mustard mash. The beef was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the sauce was lovely and rich in both taste and deep burgundy colour. It went beautifully with the bottle of Pinot Noir suggested by the sommelier.
To my regret, we didn’t have 20 minutes up our sleeve to wait for the passionfruit soufflé, so we shared a selection of five cheeses to finish. I was a little disappointed by this. The cheeses were fine in themselves, but there was no choosing involved and when a thin sliver of each on a plain dinner plate was placed in front of us with a few slices of apple and some crackers, it looked a bit mean for $40.
|What was left of the cheese plate|
Part of the fun of dining out in France is the cheese selection, when two (sometimes three) waiters heft a wagon-sized board covered in 20 or more cheeses over to your table and rest it on the edge while you pick which ones you want. It’s big kid in lolly heaven stuff and it’s something this lovely bistro could easily replicate to give diners a more authentic, memorable experience.
For the lovers out there planning a date at Felix, I would suggest opting for the soufflé or perhaps indulging in the honey crème brulee with fresh strawberries, or chocolate mousse with hazelnut milk granita and caramel. All sound very tempting.
As 8pm approached, we tottered our sky-high heels out of Ash St and into a cab just in time. The Capital Theatre’s opening act bell was tolling as we made our way upstairs and to our seats.
What can I say about the show? Brilliant, haunting, old love rekindled with a devastating twist at the end. Bring tissues!
|Photo courtesy of The Phantom of The Opera official program, Sydney production|
So, fellow romantics, who would you include on your list of all time epic couples?
Ps. Here is a link to Little Pudding’s first piece of press in a glowing review of city espresso bar Joe Black X on Jan 31 in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living pages. I was excited, to put it mildly.
As Penny Lane would say, it’s all happening!
|The lights of Martin Place and Ash St from our suite at The Westin.|