‘It’s one floor above, so go up the stairs’.
I looked incredulously at the bartender before I swung my gaze back to the spiral open-string staircase in the very middle of the bustling bar floor.
‘I thought it was for decoration,’ I muttered before I thanked her and moved away. I was steeling myself to get over my nervousness of open-string staircases (I have a phobia of heights), before I remembered I was wearing a dress.
That would go down well in a bar full of suits, I thought, noticing the sign for the lift and making my way over.
I was here for dinner this evening at Bistrode CBD, a participant in Merivale’s 2013 March into Merivale restaurant $33 Meal Deal promotions. A friend had agreed to join me in trying one of the restaurants on the website list (find the full list of participating restaurants here).
Bistrode CBD is located above Hotel CBD, another Merivale establishment in the form of a pub which was evidently very popular with the corporates on a Thursday evening. As soon as the lift doors opened out to Level 1, it opened out to blissful peace and quiet, and the large, very open and high-ceiling ed Bistrode.
The decor is all black and white with large columns here and there. The consistent black and white combination gives the place an almost masculine feel. It was very quiet, but then again I had made a 6.00 pm reservation. It was later on through our meal, closer to 7.30, that more people began to trickle in.
The kitchen was also visible from my table and it was a delight to see head chef Jeremy Strode there directing. I love being able to watch a kitchen operate and function.
My friend arrived and we consulted the $33 Meal menu and also asked for the dessert menu (because as always, I can never do without!). I was intrigued by the combination of English with Modern Australian cuisine; I can’t say I’ve had much true ‘English’ cuisine in my life (other than pies) and I was keen to experience what Jeremy Strode had to offer.
I had the Sauvignon blanc which came with the main meal, while the waiter was more than happy to exchange an alcoholic beverage for a lemonade for my friend.
Bread was served from a basket and we had the choice of a slice of sourdough or soy and linseed. I had the sourdough, which was lovely and soft, although it would have been nicer had it been warmed.
Our mains arrived within a very short amount of time, both presented beautifully. Luckily I had had in my mind two of the menu options, and my friend had chosen one, so I could go with the other. He went for the Ocean Trout, with roe, Crispy Pig’s Ear and Vietnamese Salad.
The trout was tender and perfectly cooked, sections falling apart off the crispy skin like pages in a book. I had been a little wary of the idea of pig’s ear, but I was so busy chatting that I picked up a piece of something crispy and was gnawing away happily on it before I realised it was the pig’s ear. It had been sliced finely so it didn’t look like an ‘ear’, and tasted….well, a lot like bacon haha! The Vietnamese salad was fresh and fragrant, and I did manage to avoid my nemesis, coriander.
My Confit Duck with Beetroot Salad was quite lovely to look at, and I admired the crispy skin on the confit duck for a while before I tucked into it. The duck was beautifully cooked and the meat fell off the bone. It was a tad on the too-salty side, but the fresh flavours of the salad redeemed it. I loved the combination of the various salad leaves and particularly the witlof, and I was surprised as to how lovely the fresh beetroot was (I’ve never tried fresh beetroot as I’m usually too turned off by its staining characteristics).
As for dessert, the dessert menu had quite simple fare, and they did it well.
The Honey Tart with Peanut Butter Ice Cream ($17.50) was very, very sweet, although the slight saltiness from the creamy peanut butter saved the slice. The shortcrust pastry was lovely and buttery, crumbling away easily. I’ve never actually had a honey tart before and wasn’t entirely sure how the filling was made – it seemed to be a sort of baked custard flavoured heavily with a good quality honey. It was quite amazing.
My friend’s Rhubarb Oat Crumble with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream ($17.50) was another new experience for me. It sounds silly, but I’ve avoided rhubarb due to its striking resemblance to celery. I was astonished at its very berry-like flavour and that it didn’t have one bit of the ‘stringiness’ I’ve associated with my much-hated vegetable, and I kept eating spoonfuls of it before I remembered that it wasn’t the dessert I had ordered and guiltily pushed it back to my friend’s side of the table.
With our hour and a half sitting up, we called for the bill and were cheerfully sent off by the wait staff, including Jeremy Strode himself, who was standing at the entrance to the kitchen beside the lift when we departed. What a delight! It was simply a lovely , refined dining experience amongst the sea of corporate bars and pubs that populate the King Street Wynyard area.
1/52 King Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000