I still remember the ripple of discussion that swept through the mid-North Shore when the old Food & Plonk premises had been bought out and the notices outside the restaurant proclaimed that a European-style bistro would be opening. It was seemingly out of place with the various casual Thai restaurants and chicken shops lining the Pacific Highway. As The Sister and I are avid fans of French food, we watched as Café Lyon began to take shape, and upon discovering that the owner and Chef de Cuisine was the Executive Chef at the late Berowra Waters Inn, we knew we had to pay them a visit.
We went in on a Friday lunch without a reservation just past 1.00 o’clock, and were pleased that even though the place was about three-quarters full, we got a table for two immediately. The menu we were presented inside was slightly different to the one put up on the window outside and the one on their website, but we went along with it. With a regular changing menu, I imagine many patrons would be eager to make frequent visits to see what’s new.
Upon consulting the menu and negotiating what we could fit in for lunch, we decided that what we would do is share an entree, have a main each (and swap halfway as we always do), and then have a dessert each (sharing optional). There’s also the Prix Fixe on Thursdays and Fridays, which is a main and glass of wine for $25, but seriously, as if we could do without dessert!
We had our bread first, two pieces of warm sourdough baguette served with salt flakes and a little bowl of creamy butter, which, funnily enough, resembled half an egg!
The interior of the restaurant is cosy, warm and welcoming and you almost forget you’re sitting in a restaurant in Lindfield. You could be somewhere in Kirribilli even. The floors are wooden, and the walls hold interesting various pieces of art. The bar and espresso bar lies to the left of the entrance, while the right wall of the restaurant has a long strip of mirror, upon which state the specials, Plat de Jour, and the mysterious ‘Local’s Night’, which you can find more details about on their Facebook Page. The back is framed by shelves full of wine bottles, and opens out to the semi-open kitchen, which is quite quiet (if you compare it to watching an episode of Hell’s Kitchen).
There’s also another floor upstairs, which I imagine they open up when it gets a little more crowded. The very clean female restroom is also located upstairs, the male one is downstairs.
After a very short time (we were still finishing our sourdough), the entree arrived, the Citrus Cured Salmon, Roe, Spiced Avocado Prawn Beignet ($18).
I generally tend to avoid salmon sashimi when it’s not nigiri as I find the thicker cut doesn’t sit too well with me. However, when I tasted this I was blown away – the salmon had been cured to a degree that the occasional ‘fattiness’ of the meat had been eliminated completely, yet the citrus flavour was not overwhelming nor sharp on the palate. The Sister was pleased with the avocado as it had been seasoned well, and I enjoyed popping the flavoursome roe on the roof of my mouth. The prawn beignets were lightly battered and meaty, having been cooked until they were deliciously tender.
The mains took a little longer to arrive, but we spent our time watching the other patron’s dishes go by and tried guessing what they were. At this point the entire bottom floor of the restaurant was filled, and the Chef de Cuisine himself had come out to help the one waiter with service.
Normally if there’s duck confit on the menu, The Sister has automatic claim to it, but on this occasion she graciously allowed me to order it. The Duck Confit, Boudin Noir, Red Cabbage, Pancetta and Pommes Anna ($28) was a rich and gloriously meaty dish, although probably a little too heavy to be on a spring/summer menu.
The duck was tender and fell easily off the bone. I found the sauce very strong on its own, but realised it worked well combined with the duck. The biggest surprise was the Boudin Noir – or blood sausage/black pudding as some know it to be. The Sister has had blood sausage on a number of occasions and proclaimed it to be rather gritty and ‘blood-like’, and with myself being somewhat squeamish about certain foods, I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be. I am pleased to say that I found the pieces of blood sausage absolutely delicious, seasoned and just a little bit spicy. I persuaded The Sister to try a piece and upon gingerly trying a quarter of a slice, the delighted expression on her face told the story. The Pommes Anna (fancy potato bake) on the side was absolutely divine in its creaminess.
The Sister has ordered the Barramundi, French onion puree, Baby peas, Asparagus & Lemon Myrtle velouté ($32). The barramundi flesh was sweet and tender, although it would have been a 10/10 had the skin been crispy. The vegetables were each cut and cooked well, and the lemon myrtle velouté was creamy and foamy, a lovely addition to the dish. The French onion puree was quite sweet, but paired with the fish, was very good.
Hmm, time for dessert, methinks. We deliberated for a while whether we wanted to share a dessert or have one each, but in the end we went for one each. If you’re going to eat, you may as well do it properly. I had seen a lot of people ordering the Mango soufflé, but I was after something a little more creamy and dense. I went for the Créme Caramel, Pineapple, Tuile and Macadamia Croquante ($11).
There was a collective ‘Oooohhh’ from the tables around us as this stunningly presented delight was brought out. The tuile was buttery and crisp, the créme caramel creamy and soft. The caramel was a little more on the bitter-side, but because of that the dessert didn’t have the cringe-inducing effect that many desserts have. The macadamia croquante were toffee-d macadamias that were crunchy and sweet, and the fresh pineapple and passion fruit curd were refreshing additions to the dish.
The Sister has the Lemon Concotte, Marscapone ice cream, Peaches and Tim Tams. Unfortunately this isn’t on the website menu and I forgot to write it down, so I can’t remember the full name nor the price, but the price would be about $11 as well.
The concotte was essentially a firm lemon curd custard, which balanced perfectly with the crushed white Tim Tams (you really couldn’t tell that they were in fact Tim Tam biscuits), the stewed peaches and the marscapone ice cream. I loved the buttery biscuit it came with and kept sneaking pieces of it until The Sister snatched her dessert back.
We decided to get tea and coffee as well, with The Sister having peppermint tea and myself ordering a skim latte. The peppermint tea arrived in a big pot with the petit fours, and my latte arrived in its obligatory clear glass.
The petit fours were two mini friands topped with fruit and two toasted coconut marshmallows. The Sister couldn’t eat either so I demolished them with ease. The peppermint tea was thankfully brewed with tea leaves, and was a refreshing end to the meal. Unfortunately my coffee was rather bitter from being overheated, but upon requesting the bill, the waiter noticed that I hadn’t touched much of it and asked why, before saying that he would take it off the bill. It was very nice of him to do so. You could not fault one element of the service that we had over lunch – they were approachable, friendly and informative – a vast difference from the snooty waiters at many fine dining restaurants in Sydney.
Overall, it was a very good meal and Café Lyon is a welcome addition to the Lindfield Highway strip. You can also come by later in the evening just for dessert – an opportunity I certainly will not miss!
366 Pacific Highway, Lindfield NSW 2070
(02) 9416 5026