We first experienced Bistro Ortolan a few years back when it was still located in Leichardt. I still remember that day; we were celebrated Valentine’s Day one day early as we were due to fly out to Japan to experience the last of the snow season. I had finished work really late and by that stage there was no mood to go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day as I was exhausted. We went for the Degustation menu and were impressed by every single dish that came out. I still remember trying rabbit and sweetbreads for the first time.
Fast forward to 3 years later, we are back again for Mr Dough’s birthday dinner, armed with the latest edition of the Entertainment Book with a 25% off voucher. I am a gal who can’t resist a bargain!
Bistro Ortolan is now located at the old Bayswater Brassiere site and has a new name called The Ortolan on Bayswater. The new name also brings new dining experiences with the restaurant giving diners the option to have a casual experience in the courtyard or fine dining options with their fixed and degustation menu. Having already tried their degustation menu, we opted for the casual option as I was enticed by reading reviews on their home-made charcuterie selection.
It’s a Tuesday night and only the front of the restaurant was open. Upon entry we were greeted by the warm, friendly staff and even got a hello from the chef himself Paul McGrath.
Whilst perusing the menu deciding what to eat, the diners next to us orders the charcuterie selection and I was shocked to see a board as long as our dining table was presented.
We started off the night with a selection of Pacific, Sydney Rock and Giant St Helen’s Bay oysters shucked to order. Mr Dough doesn’t like eating big oysters as he thinks the slimy texture magnifies with size. Thinking it would be raw; I ordered 1 just to try. Much to my surprise, the St Helen’s Bay was served tempura style. The oyster was lightly cooked in the middle and retained its sweetness of the sea water brine.
It was our turn to be adorned with the spectacle of the charcuterie table. Mr Dough offered to take photos as I was nominated to listen to what everything was. On offer there were 3 different types of rillettes: rabbit, pork and duck; 2 types of parfait: duck and chicken; 3 types of galantine: chicken and snail, quail and duck with red wine eschalots; pork cheek and a pig’s head terrine. The accompaniments included, red cabbage, caramelised onions, salad of pickled onions and cucumber and cornichons.
I got greedy and rationalised the fact that this was our entrée so I chose 5 things. Mr Dough assured me he could finish what I couldn’t.
I tried the chicken and snail galantine first and it reminded me of a really rich chicken loaf. On the outside is a layer of either fat/butter which melts in the mouth, inside delicate pieces of snail seasoned with parsley and garlic. I pick my next prey as I see pieces of pink quail peeking through the duck. All quail I have had is always warm/hot, it was slightly odd having it cold and I find it loses its gamey flavour. My favourite of the night was the duck liver parfait. Cutting into the parfait was like cutting into chocolate mousse. Spreading the parfait onto the brioche was like smothering light, airy, whipped butter. Needless to say, I ate all of the parfait and didn’t leave any room to try anything else on the board.
The waitress comes in and checks up on us half way and offers to pack away our charcuterie takeaway if we couldn’t finish it. She also kindly offers to slow down the mains and allows us to make changes to our mains if we wanted to (I unwillingly cancel the hand cut chips).
She comes back 15 minutes later and was shocked to see a proud Mr Dough, sitting back staring at the empty charcuterie plate with a grin on his face.
Our mains arrive after a short rest. I opted for the bouillabaisse as I thought it would be light. The seafood was plentiful and was laden with a rich creamy sauce. I picked through all the shell-fish and left the remainder for Mr Dough to finish as I was still feeling that parfait.
The side dish of broccolini was generous in size. For those who don’t like anchovy, never fear as it is not prominent.
Mr Dough’s tenderloin was cooked to perfection being crisp and caramelised on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. It was served with Forestière (mushroom) butter.
By the end of the meal, we were asked if we could be tempted with dessert.
Well…I knew I could!
32 Bayswater Rd
Potts Point NSW 2011
+612 9331 7464