The winter of 2016 will always be remembered as the winter of French restaurants in my diary. Bistrot Gavroche was the third French restaurant I dined at during this period. Despite being a self-proclaimed French cuisine enthusiast, I hadn’t heard of Bistro Gavroche until a month or two earlier, when a colleague recommended a newish French restaurant in Kensington Street. Whenever a new cafe/restaurant opens up in Sydney, it is always on my radar, but it gets immediately prioritised if it is French. And that was how I ended up here for a Saturday lunch.
I had made a reservation a few days prior for a 12:30pm lunch on a Saturday. When I walked in, there were a few tables with diners, but I couldn’t call it crowded or busy, at any rate. The decor was simple: leather booths, white tiled flooring, wooden tables and chairs, with soft music playing in the background that created a chic, and simple ambience that made you want to linger.
After my family arrived, we were all given copies of the menu to peruse. The service was prompt, professional and polite.
Just after ordering, one of the wait staff offered us these small bread balls which had a light, cheesy filling, and whose name I can’t remember. They were light, and delightful to eat.
We were given complimentary bread and butter after that. The bread was fresh, and soft, with hard crusts.
The onion soup had a slightly thin consistency, with caramelised onion pieces. It was a comfort to eat on a cold day.
I’m a sucker for bone marrow and would eat it every day if I could, so whenever I see it on a menu it’s basically guaranteed that I’m going to order it. Bistrot Gavroche’s version was served on toasted sourdough, with cloves of roasted garlic, garnished with parsley, and a green salad on the side. The texture of the bone marrow was soft, silky and buttery, basically melting in my mouth. It formed a nice contrast to the crisp, toasted sourdough. The salad was basic, but was a nice addition and contrast to the richness of the bone marrow.
The Burgundy escargots is a classic French dish of snails, served in their shells, cooked with garlic and parsley butter. The snails were chewy, small, and all their flavour came from the garlic and parsley butter, which was delectable.
The duck confit was baked, with a slightly crumbed, golden top. The inside revealed mashed potato, mixed with shredded pieces of duck that were soft and full of flavour. My stepfather enjoyed this immensely, as did I.
My brother ordered the pike fish, and although I like eating fish, I generally prefer meat when dining out as I find most fish dishes in restaurant bland. Once the pike fish was served though, the mere sight of it rendered me with a major case of food envy. The quenelles were creamy and soft, their creaminess heightened by the accompanying crayfish sauce, which was thick and rich. A strong fish flavour permeated both the quenelles and the sauce. My brother relished every bite. Overall, it was a really perfect dish, one that I cannot accuse of being bland at all.
The John Dory fillet was served with a buttery Champagne sauce, which also had a spicy tang. The fillet had been cooked to the point of firmness without being rubbery, and had achieved the perfect balance between soft and hard.
The braised oxtail was slow cooked in a red wine sauce, and vegetables, which detracted from the richness of the meat. The oxtail was very tender, and cooked to perfection. The red wine sauce sauce accentuated the flavour of the meat. In a nutshell, this dish was perfection, as was everything else we had eaten here.
After eating all that delicious food, I still had room for dessert, but was contemplating another place in Kensington Street. My brother had a craving for cheese though, and so we ordered one. I didn’t have a good feeling about the cheese, as the restaurant hadn’t listed the names of the cheese. We had to ask the wait staff for the kind of cheeses available- on the menu it simply states that they have a selection of “matured cheeses from Australia and France”.
Sure enough the cheese was served, and it was completely unremarkable. I am certain that it was a cheese from a chain grocery store. It was served with candied walnuts, which tasted better than the cheese. The dining experience was let down by the cheese. I was surprised that the restaurant didn’t have specialty French cheeses, and wouldn’t order this next time, nor would I recommend.
Despite the cheese incident, the high calibre of cooking at Bistrot Gavroche made a favourable impression on me, and I am eagerly anticipating dining here again in the near future.
Address: Level 1, 2-10 Kensington Street
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11:30am – 2:30pm, 6:00pm – 10:00pm, Sunday 11:30am -3:00pm, 6:00pm – 9:00pm