With great power comes responsibility. And with my brand-spanking-new Entertainment Book for 2013-2014, it was time to break it in a little with an upcoming craving for something a little bit fancy a bit later during the working week. I had heard some good things about Just Pure Bistro (JPB) in Market Street’s Swissotel, and so I decided to pocket my Gold Entertainment Book card, organised a plus one and made a booking for dinner.
In all honesty, a booking really wasn’t necessary as the restaurant was about three-quarters empty. There were a few tables of two and a few tables of suits, who looked like they were in Sydney for work trips.
Just Pure Bistro offers a range of fresh, organic and locally sourced produce, with a farm-to-table approach. There’s extra virgin olive oil from Megalong Valley, pork from Byron Bay, and even organic honey sourced from the 200,000 bees that live on the roof of the Swissotel itself. Where the bees actually feed is beyond me…maybe they have a garden up there as well?
Once we had ordered, we were brought our complimentary bread, two lovely soft slices full of healthy multigrains. The olive oil was first-press and so not only quite green in colour but also flavour. I also loved that olives were provided as well as I’ve been particularly craving them lately. We started our meal with a glass each of quite a nice Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from Margret River ($14).
Our entrees arrived fairly quickly and I was quite impressed with the plating of my Grilled Scampi, Pernod sauce, fennel and orange salad and salsa verde ($15).
The three scampi were grilled to perfection and the salsa verde complemented the sweet seafood perfectly. There was probably a bit too much fennel in the salad, with a heavy aniseed flavor, but the salad was fresh and a welcome accompaniment to the shellfish.
We probably weren’t so impressed with the plating of my dinner partner’s Prawn Cocktail with macerated tomato and cucumber and chipotle cocktail sauce ($15).
While it’s understood that the prawn cocktail is quite an old-school dish, we had been expecting a new take on this old party favourite. The chipotle sauce almost overpowered the natural taste and flavour of the sweet prawns. There was also just way too much iceberg lettuce for the both of us.
The meal was saved for my dinner partner with the arrival of his main, the White Pyrenees Lamb Rack with minted peas, ratatouille and confit of tomatoes ($25).
I’ve had lamb once in my life back in Year 11 school camp, and it was quite a traumatic experience. Since then, I’ve never wanted to taste lamb again. But curiosity won over when I saw my dinner companion swooning over the lamb and he was kind enough to cut me a whole rib. And it was simply amazing. I could cut through it with my standard dinner knife and the meat was tender and flavoursome. Simply put, it converted me and put to rest an old childhood trauma.
I was in the mood for more seafood and so had ordered the Pan-seared Tasmanian Salmon with mashed potato, saffron fennel and truss tomatoes ($25).
The salmon was cooked just slightly past my request for medium rare, but the skin was well-seasoned, crispy and the flesh soft. What was the let down of this dish was that the truss tomatoes were quite cold and I couldn’t even slice into the fennel because it was so undercooked. If these elements were tweaked it would make a big difference to this dish.
Finally, dessert. I traditionally enjoy finishing my meal with something sweet, but after hearing that they make their own organic honey from the beehives on the roof, I knew I had to have their Selection of NSW Organic Cheeses ($13), which came with house-baked lavosh, a chunk of their own organic honeycomb and quince paste ($13).
As cheese platters go, this one was pretty tasty and dipping a piece of lavosh into the blue and then the honey was one of the most beautiful combinations ever. We were a bit puzzled over what the milky, creamier cheese was (traditionally a Brie or Camembert on most cheese plates), but after analysing it and tasting it a bit more I narrowed my guess down to a goat’s cheese and the waitress confirmed this when she came to clear it away. Yes!
It was unanimous between the two of us that the meal should be finished with something sweet, so we shared the cheese plate before we started on our other dessert, the Home-made Apple Pie with Bilpin apples and cinnamon ice cream ($13).
A cute little round of puff pastry, it could have done with a bit more apple but the refreshing cinnamon ice cream made up for this.
The standout dishes for the evening were definitely the scampi and the lamb rack. As for service, we had a variety of staff cater to us over the course of the evening and while their personalities did differ, it was predominantly friendly and polite, with a couple being more than willing to recommend particular dishes from the menu. It’s lovely to see people who are so committed to simple, organic and locally grown ingredients.
68 Market Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
(02) 9238 8888