Restaurant Atelier, Glebe

There it was. Out of the blue. An invitation to dine at Restaurant Atelier in Glebe last Friday night. Incredible! Having lived in Glebe in my first year in Sydney, walking past the terrace restaurant sometimes multiple times per day, I had been wanting to dine there for ages.

Facing the not particularly difficult choice of two degustation menus (4 or 7 course), we took the option that a quick race is a good race, and decided on the 4 course dinner ($65). Immediately a cute plate of black and green olives were plonked down on our table, their slight saltiness making my mouth water in anticipation.

Soon after, we were presented with a pretty large serving of the warmest, crustiest, most delicious sourdough I have had in a while. I know I made the same claim about Soffrito’s bread a couple of weeks back, but there is a new king in town. I don’t know if they actually make it on site, but it was fantastic. And even better served with a little Pepe Saya butter (apparently the only butter we are supposed to eat these days…). But it was warm…and the butter was melty and, yes, we unashamedly ate the whole plate. Who are you judging?

Bread head

Bread head

First up for our epic meal – the Atelier hen’s egg, a smooth custardy creamy “yolk” with kombu, foie gras, ocean trout roe – bursting (literally) with flavour – and little micro herbs for that bite of freshness. I enjoyed the exciting burst and saltiness of the roe (yes, I’m a food nerd. The bursting roe was indeed exciting). The foie gras was super creamy, really rounding out the dish. A really great, delicate introduction to the meal.

A hen's egg is a chicken's egg, people!

A hen’s egg is a chicken’s egg, people!

Next up, an admittedly terrible photo, which I put down to excessive excitement about the dish placed in front of me. Cured kingfish, confit yolk, potentially shiitakes and a light mushroomy shaving. Yes, I was definitely so excited by the dish that I forgot what was in it. Useless. The central concept that was it was super fresh, lightly cured fish, with various delicious condiments that went really well. Part of the fish was actually relatively tough and hard to cut through! But that is potentially just me not understanding that type of fish. Another winning dish.

Here fishy fishy

Here fishy fishy

Onwards and upwards to number three. After two fairly light dishes, it was comforting to see a nice, hearty, powerful-looking plate in front of me. So it was basically aged mutton cooked two ways. The pink piece in the centre was a beautifully flavourful seared few mouthfuls of lamby goodness. There’s another one of those hidden under the foliage. The second way was a fantastic slow roasted rib of the meat. Falling off the bone and incredibly tender; the fat melting through the meat and adding a sticky deliciousness to the whole thing. Some asparagus and baby turnips, as well as some form of tasty moussey stuff accompanied, and it really was satisfying.

Little lamby

Little lamby

Winding down towards the end of the night, satisfied but also sad that there was only one more dish to round out the night at such a great restaurant (with solid service, too!), we were presented with dessert – a banana souffle, caramel milkshake and yoghurt sorbet. I think Atelier has had a few iterations of this dessert with various flavours, but I think we landed on a winner. The souffle had chunks of caramelised banana at the bottom and we were advised to tip a little of the caramel milkshake into the souffle – a quality suggestion indeed. The yoghurt sorbet added a nice slight tartness to the dish and even with bursting tummies, the plates were licked clean.

Bananarama

Bananarama

All in all, a great night was had at Restaurant Atelier in Glebe. The service, despite a fairly full restaurant and only two waiters, was spot on. I really liked the touch of being explained the various components of the dish (although, as illustrated, through my excitement the detail was somewhat lost on me). The portion sizes were sufficient so that by the end of the four courses I was pretty full – a good taste of everything. I liked that the food was delicate and of top quality.

Restaurant Atelier
22 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Food? 9/10! Tasty, good quality, a great succession of meals and tastes. Was it French? Well…probably not specifically…but it was good. And you can’t go wrong with starting out with great quality, warm, crusty sourdough.
Drinks? I actually have to admit that, having had about 84 beers earlier that evening, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. What a fail.
Atmosphere? The restaurant is set in a beautiful sandstone terrace, which was very comfortable (although as with all terraces, when sitting next to a…gaggle of cackling women (as we were), you should probably bring some earplugs or fear a rapid onset of deafness.

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La Brasserie, Darlinghurst

Feeling a little French the other day – ooh la la, oui oui, baguette, merci etc – I felt that given that this was the extent of my understanding of the great culture, I should probably get myself on down to something that was actually, really, Francais.

And oh it was. The waiters were French, the dishes were French, the music was French, the whole thing was so very deliciously, delightfully French. I’m talking about La Brasserie in Darlinghurst.

Having not ever been to a French restaurant, I (pretty easily) convinced DF to come on a culinary adventure of delicious wonderment last Saturday night.

Starting off with two warm, crusty complimentary rolls served with slightly salted, chilled butter our eyes glazed over with joyful anticipation at the delicious items on the menu. There was escargot (obviously), chicken liver parfait, duck neck sausage, goats cheese, steak frites, steak tartare, veal loin and oxtail. We ended up going with an entree of Soupe a l’oignon gratine (French onion soup, to the rest of us) ($18) and a Souffle au Fromage (Cheese souffle) ($16).

French onion soup with grantine potatoes

I’m constantly impressed with how the French managed to make onions into something I actually want to eat. A whole bowl-full, in fact. The soup was sweet, the potatoes were fluffy and you can’t really go wrong with a big smack of cheese to cover it all off.

Cheese souffle

My cheese souffle was similarly fantastic. It was a textural delight to eat this dish, it really was. Once the spoon crunched through the crispy, parmesan-y outer layer, there was a beautifully light, airy, lightly cheesy souffle and then deep down within, were some sweet, caramelly, mushy onions all surrounded by a deep, creamy, intensely cheesy almost-bechemal sauce.

We ploughed on in to the main courses: the pan roasted pork fillet ($32) and the confit duck leg ($33).

Pan roasted pork fillet with forest mushrooms and gnocchi

DF eagerly cut into what was a very reasonable-sized serving of pork. He noted that the pork itself was every so slightly on the dry side, but that it went very well with the field mushrooms and “sweetish glaze” that together it didn’t taste dry at all. At one point I did launch my fork across the table, catching DF unawares and hooking a hunk of pork on my fork. The edge was crisp and caramelly and the meat was flavourful as well, but I agree with the sliiiiiiight dryness without sauce.

Crisp confit duck leg with carrot cumin puree, orange glazed Belgium endive and sauce Bigarade

That picture came out significantly less clear than anticipated. But the duck was mind blowing. The skin – as described – was super thin and super crisp. The meat was so tender and juicy and fell off the bone with the slightest of touches. The puree was silky, sweet and delicately spiced with cumin. And the sauce added a further balsamic-y sweetness. I quickly worked out that I am in no way a fan of Belgium endive. Its bitter aftertaste was definitely not my cup of tea. It went surprisingly well with the sweetness of the sauce and puree, but I still couldn’t really get past it.

Once again ignoring our protesting waistlines, we skipped right on over to dessert. We had been contemplating strolling across to the newest trend in dessert gustation, Gelato Messina, but as the night grew cold and as our expanding waistlines made it more difficult to move, we settled in for the third course. DF opted for the Fondant au Chocolat, while I went for the Baba bouchon (both $15).

Chocolate fondant with coffee foam and pistachio icecream

The chocolate fondant came out deliciously messy. We were almost confused that it was some form of saucy mess, but then realised that it was a tasty, light coffee foam, under which sat the rich, molten chocolate fondant. DF said that the cute cup of pistachio ice cream was a very nice contrast to the warm, gooey mess to the right.

Rum soaked cake with passionfruit poached pear and passionfruit banana sorbet

My baba bouchon came out, a cute little cake complete with a gorgeous, fragrant poached pear and a sphere of sorbet. The cake was almost brioche-y, but dryness was nicely compensated for with a delicious, but not overpowering rum syrup. The pear could have been poached for just a little longer – sometimes it took a bit of effort to slice through with the fork and spoon I was given – but was sweet and light, all the same. The quinnelle of cream was probably unnecessary, but the passionfruit banana sorbet was nice to add some tart freshness to the dessert.

La Brasserie was a delightful way to spend a cold winter eve. The restaurant was popular and bustling, the service fairly attentive, the meals warm and inviting and the lighting dim and romantic. I’ll be back when I start saying “oui oui” again…

La Brasserie
118 Crown Street
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

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