I may have mentioned this previously, but I’m not really a huge fan of the fine dining scene. Sydney is yet to live up to the calibre of international customer service, whether it be in retail or dining. For me, as fine dining is as much about the service and atmosphere as it is the food, I’m yet to be impressed.
I much prefer the laid back, relaxed atmosphere of a small restaurant or bistro with a heartiness about their dishes. This was the reason why I decided to check out Le Pub, a Parisian-themed basement pub tucked into the heart of the Sydney CBD on King Street.
Le Pub is a combination of a TAB with big screens and a cosy dining area complete with moodily-lit booths. It’s an unusual combination, particularly with the Parisian-metro themed decor of curved, tiled walls and floors, and the ceiling decorated with light panels, brass and copper.
My dining companion for the evening was Brother Bear, and we had both decided (or I had decided for the both of us, if you want to put it that way) what we wanted. A waiter came over to take our drinks order, and not having seen the drinks menu, we asked what types of cider they had. He listed them in a very French accent, and it was after a slight pause that we selected the last one he said – not having any idea what it was! Luckily it was a brand that we were familiar with, a Somersby Pear ($7.00):
Our first dish was designed for sharing, being the Charcuterie ($29): Homemade duck rillette, jamon, Parisian saucisson and three jars of condiments of red pepper relish, pickled vegetables, and remoulade with breads and cornichons.
This was a fabulous dish for sharing, and we both really enjoyed picking at the different elements on the platter. The bread was nicely crisp and toasted, and was perfect with the cuts of soft, cold meat or the tender duck rillette. The pickles and the other condiments provided a lovely amount of different textures with their crunch and tang of vinegar. I would happily return to Le Pub just for this dish and a boozy beverage after work.
I occasionally get into a mood where I want nothing more than a big hunk of steak, and that was the case that evening. I had selected the L’Entrecote ($28): a 220gm Scotch fillet with Cafe de Paris sauce and frites, with a Grass-Fed Marble Score of 2+, from Cape Grim, Tasmania.
Is there anything more satisfyingly French than steak and frites? The steak was perfectly cooked to my request of medium rare, and had a beautiful amount of tasty char on the outside which had me salivating for more. I barely had the sauce with the steak at all, but did use it to dip my chips into, which were already well-seasoned.
Brother Bear loves his seafood and so he had selected (or I had strongly recommended that he select) the Moules ($30): One kilo of Kinkawooka South Australian Mussels, with speck, pastis cream and parsley.
While the mussels were tender and perfectly cooked, as is the case where a kilo of mussels is served, all of the sauce was at the bottom of the pot. Despite shellfish and pork products classically going well together, the sauce was rather too salty for either of our liking.
Dessert was an easy decision. I usually don’t go for the ice cream selection when I’m dining out, but the Assortiment de Glaces: Quartet of homemade ice cream and waffle cones ($20), could not be passed up. And I was glad we hadn’t passed it up.
From left to right, the flavours were: Salted Caramel and Macaron, Belgian Chocolate and Mandarin Segments, Sour Cherry and Passionfruit Sorbet with Passionfruit Dust, and Toasted Coconut with Mint and Pineapple. We ate each methodically, one at a time, and with each one we declared it to be the best out of the four. I particularly loved how the mandarin and the pineapple pieces of the ice creams had been deliciously freeze-dried so they had a glorious crunch and shatter with a simultaneous burst of flavour. It was a difficult choice, but I would say that my favourite was the Toasted Coconut with Mint and Pineapple. Simply refreshing, tropical and capturing the true essence of summer.
While probably not within the usual price range of a pub meal, the quality of the food at Le Pub was truly exceptional. You don’t have to come here for a three-course meal like we had, but even just coming for the Charcuterie or the dessert platter (or both!) will be well worth your while.
Basement, 66 King Street cnr York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9262 3277