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The Ortolan on Bayswater, Potts Point

13 Jun

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.

The ducks logo retained on their new menu

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.

Complimentary sour dough

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.

Sneek peek of the star of the night

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.

Oysters: Coffin Bay ($4 each); Giant wild St Helens’ Bay ($6 each)

Half eaten and look how big it is still!

Oysters: Coffin Bay/Port Stephens Pambula ($4 each)

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.

Look at the length of the board

A lot of love and attention to detail went into this

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.

Our greedy selection!

Assorted bread for the charcuterie board

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).

Half way though and it looks like we barely made a dent

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.

Bouillabaisse of shellfish, snapper and crab with fresh sardine, rouille and potato – $35

The side dish of broccolini was generous in size. For those who don’t like anchovy, never fear as it is not prominent.

Steamed broccolini with anchovy butter and tomato concasse – $10

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.

Pasture and grain-fed Tenderloin (200gms) – $42

By the end of the meal, we were asked if we could be tempted with dessert.

Well…I knew I could!

Bistro Ortolan

32 Bayswater Rd

Potts Point NSW 2011

+612 9331 7464


Momofuku Seiōbo, Pyrmont

1 Feb

If you haven’t heard by now the craze of Momofuku, I don’t know what rock you have been living under. When rumours were confirmed in 2010 that David Chang was going to bring his craze of Asian inspired, French technique of cooking to Australia, I was eagerly waiting for the day to try his cuisine. There was questions of will there or won’t there be those oh so famous pork buns? Which of his four restaurants of which 1 has 2 Michelin stars was he going to bring to Australia? Momofuku means lucky peach and Seiōbo is the japanese goddess of the west and her sign is the peach tree.

The chances of getting a reservation to this place is almost like trying to win the lotto. First of all they only take online reservations and only for 10 days in advance at a time. You need to create an account, log in at precisely at 10am and pray! They only accept reservations for tables of 1, 2 and 4 for time slots of 7pm, 7:30pm, 8pm. It’s a matter of getting into the system and don’t think or hesitate, just press the button or you will be faced with a series of red crosses, reminding you better luck tomorrow.

On the day I flew back from my 3 week holiday, I thought if I could cheer myself up and try my luck on the Momofuku reservations site. I held my breath and waited……was it true? I got in to secure a coveted reservation to Momofuku Seiōbo!

Blink and you will miss the entrance

The day has arrived and I was eager to get to The Star on time as Momofuku has a strict policy of if you are late for more than 15 minutes without informing them, they will cancel your reservation.

Once inside, I am greeted by sounds of Wu Tang and simple, bistro like decor. In full view is the kitchen with approximately 15 seats along the bar where diners can watch the various chefs fuss over their dishes.

I wish I had this kitchen at home!

There are 15 courses tonight and here…we….go…..

Course 1: snacks. My favourite was the mochi and the smoked potato. The mochi was grilled which ended up with a char on the outside and soft gooey, chewy centre. The smoked potato was just heavenly with a delicate, wafer like casing and smooth, buttery potato with shavings of light fluffy cheese.

Clockwise from front: mochi, nori, smoked potato, shiitake chip

Cheese inspiration from El Loco Hot Dog perhaps?

Course 2: steamed bun. This is what I was waiting for, the infamous steamed bun. Homemade steamed bun which was soft, pillow like, wedged in between, succulent slices of pork belly with cucumber and hoisin sauce. A cute little bottle of sriracha hot sauce came with the steamed bun, I soooo wanted to take it home!

steamed bun: pork belly, cucumber, hoisin

Course 3: sea mullet. I never had sea mullet before and I found it being very oily and fishy but the blood orange took the taste away. The dusting of dried nori was more of a decorative than for flavour, I thought.

sea mullet: blood orange

Course 4: marron. Normally I am not a fan of fennel as I don’t like the aniseed flavour. I think the squid ink masked the aniseed flavour. The marron was lightly poached with a semi-raw center and along with the squid ink and, it was absolutely divine.

marron: fennel, dill

Course 5: beef. The thinly sliced radishes looked like little fans all spread out and underneath it, perfectly cubed chunks of beef with dried watermelon oil (which was surprisingly black?) . I liked this dish the least as the dried watermelon oil gave it too much of a smoky, earthy flavour which over powered the beef.

beef: radish, fermented black bean

Course 6: smoked eel. Another favourite of mine on the night. The smoked slices of eel was nothing like the sort you would find in Japanese restaurants, laden with a sweet soy. The smoked eel spoke for itself with the pink grapefruit pieces providing the acidity to cut through the sometimes “fishness” of the eel. The dish came with a bowl of smoked eel dashi which I could happily slurp another bowl of.

smoked eel: Jerusalem artichoke, pink grapefruit

Course 7: mud crab. Hand picked mound of mud crab covered with old bay sauce. Old bay sauce is a mixture of spices such as mustard, red pepper, cinnamon and cloves. It is commonly used in Southern American cooking to flavour crab and shrimp. The yorkshire pudding was an interesting pairing to the dish but it provided to be a great sponge soaking up the old bay sauce.

mud crab: old bay, yorkshire pudding

Ok we are half way through…..

Course 8: egg. This was presented to us as slow cooked egg and I kept on slicing into the egg, hoping for a runny yolk to ooze out. I finished the whole thing and I realised the slow cooked egg was their interpretation of a Japanese dish of Chawanmushi. The burnt butter was more broth like, rather than the traditional burnt butter sauce you would find with Italian pasta. The toasted rice made the egg seem like I was having a ochazuke.

egg: toasted rice, burnt butter

Course 9: pea agnolotti. Pea puree encased in pasta, surrounded by slices of serrano ham and parmesan. The crunchy sugar snap peas provided a textural element to the soft, pillows of pasta.

pea agnolotti: parmesan, ham

Course 10: mulloway. I found mulloway a little to dry for my liking as I like my fish to be semi-cooked, otherwise I find it too dry. My favourite component on this is the lettuce!

mulloway: smoked roe, lettuce

Course 11: lamb neck. By this stage I was stuffed and I nibbled at the lamb. I never had lamb neck before so I when it came out I was surprised at how big the piece of meat was. I think I was trying to picture how much meat there is on chicken neck and thought it would be same on lamb (go figure?).

lamb neck: onions, mustard seeds

Course 12: pecorino. Finally we are on to desserts! I could only have 1 spoonful of the finely shaved pecorino as I found the cheese more rich being eaten this way. I was desperately trying to save whatever space that was left in my stomach for the 3 other courses.

pecorino: honey licorice, bee pollen

Course 13: wattle seed. I wasn’t a fan of the crispy milk but I love, love, love the malt ice cream. The wattleseed meringue had more of a honeycomb like texture of it sticking to your mouth, rather melting in your mouth.

wattle seed: malt, crispy milk

Course 14: miso. Miso? For dessert? Yeap! Fresh cherries were buried underneath miso ice cream with black sesame on top. The finely ground black sesame resembled soil and I was digging my way into the dessert for more cherries!

miso: cherries, black sesame

Course 15: petit fours. I knew this was going to come but I had no idea how it can go down. The slow roasted pork shoulder was to be eaten with our hands! The skin had a dark, toffee like caramelisation to it and quite frankly the strands of meat was so tender. I could pull the thing apart and turn it into next day’s leftover sandwich (how I wished I asked for a takeaway bag for this).

Petit fours

I think overall I hyped myself up and was expecting to be wowed by every single course, but with 15 courses, it is very hard to do. I took a step back and thought about it again and yep David Chang is a chef who takes real simple ingredients and show cases them and let it speak for themselves. He shows fine dining technique in a casual-esque environment which allows the diners to be loud and have fun at their meal, not whispering and worried about making clanking noises on their table. Would I come here again at $175 a pop? Yes, I would!

Momofuku Seiōbo

The Star

80 Pyrmont St

Pyrmont NSW 2009