Could you possibly ask for a more beautiful day for lunch beside the beach? Certainly not Sunday afternoon was my belated birthday present from my sister – a lunch reservation at the Public Dining Room Restaurant, situated on the beautiful Balmoral Beach.
The floor to ceiling front windows overlook the baths and allow a generous amount of natural sunlight to shine into the restaurant. Tables of two situated at the window are turned to face the gorgeous view (just in case you would prefer not to look at one another ). We had an early reservation of 12.30 pm, but the restaurant started to fill up at 1 pm and proceeded to be a full house through lunch service, full of families with toddlers to sophisticated made-up women chattering over cocktails. Noise level became quite loud, so probably not the ideal place for an intimate luncheon.
I had already had a thorough look at the menu a week ago and knew what I wanted, so it was a mere matter of communicating this to my sister, who proceeded to flag down the waiter and run him through our requests. We asked to share the entrees and mains, to which they were happy to cater to. A lot of waiters will give you dirty looks if you say you’re sharing, as it requires them to dole out extra sets of cutlery and plates, but they seemed more than happy to do so here.
We had our complimentary slice of bread first, a lovely warm slice of rye sourdough that had a tasty honey undertone to it, with a square of creamy soft butter and little bowl of sea salt for the table.
Our first entree arrived speedily, the seared scallops with cauliflower, crispy pancetta, beurre noisette (brown butter) and sage ($26).
The scallops were wonderfully tender, the cauliflower puree creamy as a dream and well-seasoned (not bland in the slightest), and the pancetta so crisp it broke into shards upon slight contact!
Our second entree arrived soon after, the Kurobuta pork belly with sticky seed mustard dressing and tatsoi ($19).
The pork belly was cooked more in a Chinese style than Euro style, reminding me of the pork belly you can get at Chinese BBQ shops. The fat was a little more rendered, and the crackling deliciously crispy and sticky with the mustard seed dressing.
After clearing away our dishes, and setting out a whole new lot of cutlery, our mains then proceeded to roll out. First to arrive was the Brodetto, Italian seafood soup, vongole octopus, fish, prawns, local mussels, served with bruschetta ($39).
We found the soup to be quite heavy in dill and lemon flavour, none of us could have many spoonfuls of it. But all of the seafood in the soup was cooked well, with not one element over-cooked.
I had been eagerly anticipating the Thirlmere confit duck leg with smoked duck breast, sauce soubise, caponata, and duck jus ($42).
I think our dinner knives were a little blunt, because it was quite the ordeal cutting through the slices of breast meat! I was almost afraid I would break my plate in half! But when I tasted it, the duck breast was tender, so it definitely wasn’t that the meat was tough and sinewy. The skin was still slightly fatty and would have been nicer if it had been rendered a little more. The duck jus was very duck-y (lol) but we all found the caponata beneath the duck leg (Sicilian eggplant dish) a bit too salty and strange for our tastes.
Our third main was the ‘Melting’ Huon valley tasmanian salmon (sous vide) with rockefeller sauce and pomme allumette ($34).
“Pomme allumette” actually means “matchstick potatoes” in French, however the curious bundle piled on top of our salmon resembled more fried vermicelli noodles! Regardless of semantics, it was deliciously crunchy and went beautifully together with the salmon (truly the most melt-in-your-mouth piece of fish I have ever had) and the rockefeller sauce. As from where we were seated I had a clear view of the kitchen and what was coming out, I noticed that the salmon was the most popular main ordered, with good reason!
By this stage, we were straining but I was holding out for one dessert, the 1950’s bathing cap Bombe – strawberry & chocolate ice cream, toasted Italian meringue, frilly bits ($16). Out of their dessert menu, it was the only thing that jumped out at me, and was I glad I ordered it!
It was truly a beautiful work of art That’s one spiky bathing cap! Although when I turned it to the side we all thought it actually seemed to resemble a Japanese puffer fish more than a bathing cap, no? Haha.
And an innards shot….
The strawberry and chocolate ice cream were deliciously smooth, and with the meringue reminded me nostalgically of the Peter’s Neapolitan ice cream my mum used to buy in two litre tubs. I’m relieved to say this tasted a lot better than that ice cream, though The bottom layer was a dark chocolate cake which was interspersed with bitter bits of cracked cacao nib, which seems to be the magical ingredient these days. The topping was slivered pistachio nuts, freeze dried strawberries and some other berries, as well as dried rose petals. Such a pretty dish
A beautiful restaurant, with a lovely view and speedy service. A great place to come by for a fancy lunch with the girls or for a special occasion, accompanied with a lazy swim and sunbathe afterwards. I’d recommend making a reservation as the place is very popular for wedding receptions with its picturesque view.
Public Dining Room
2A The Esplanade Mosman NSW 2088
(02) 9968 4880