Update (June 25, 2012): It is with regret that I learned that Ad Lib Bistro, along with the Berowra Waters Inn was closing. See the SMH article for more details. I’ll leave the rest of this post as is, in memoriam! Big changes going on in the restaurant world in Sydney.
In thinking about what to do to celebrate my “round birthday”, as a friend called it, another decade, I had been debating where I’d like to go for dinner. It had to be something with great food, something special, and something where there would be dishes my nephew and niece might enjoy. There are quite a few restaurants I was looking at, with unique, incredible dishes, which I would enjoy, but then those might be not appreciated as much by younger ones.
Another consideration was how many to invite, whether to invite the majority of my family and friends, or to limit the numbers and keep it more intimate.
French food, and just about all things French, are the ultimate for me, so eventually I settled on Ad Lib Bistro at Pymble, which had the added advantage of being easily accessible by everyone who were going to be there. I had been to Ad Lib Bistro earlier, and found the food delicious, and service superb.
On the evening, I arrived to a beautifully set table, with the menu for the evening there for each person.
As guests arrived, we had some celebratory champagne: the Pommery Springtime Brut Rosé. Loved that! It was a pale pinkish-golden colour, and gentle, subtle in flavour.
For the more than 10 people there for the celebratory dinner, I could choose a dégustation menu, or a table d’hôte menu. I ended up going with the latter, so that people could choose what they wanted. The Ad Lib staff were helpful in the planning of the evening, including letting me make some adjustments to the standard menu to include dishes I wanted:
The Ad Lib Bistro staff provided superb service, in the planning, and throughout the evening.
For the appetiser, I ordered the prawns sautéed in garlic butter, baby spinach and Paris mushrooms. It seems to be all the rage to have a foam on a dish, and this had the garlic butter foam surrounding the prawns. Even the spinach tasted garlicky (yum!). The prawns were tender, succulent.
Here’s the sugar-cured salmon, toasted brioche, herb and shallot mascarpone. It looked gorgeous. I’m looking forward to getting back again so I can have more of the dishes!
I heard good reports about that, and the onion soup gratinée:
I had eaten the duck before at Ad Lib Bistro. Big, big flavours. Normally I would choose something different on each visit to a place, but this was so good I had to order it again. The duck confit is moist and tender, with a crispy skin. The Lyonnaise potatoes were rich and flavourful, having been sautéed with butter, onion and garlic. And then the fresh orange, and the endive and raddichio salad added complementary flavours and textures, with the orange adding sweetness, the endive and radicchio adding crunch and bitterness, which all the more made the flavour of the duck stand out.
The fish fillet meunière was served with almonds, green beans, and beurre noisette. The fish was tender and tasty.
I heard good reports about the grilled sirloin steak, served with beurre café de Paris. One of my friends who doesn’t usually eat steak even ordered it and loved it.
For sides, we had lots of small dishes of mesclun salad, French fries with mayo, and creamed potatoes. Even though I had the Lyonnaise potatoes on my plate I had to try the creamed potatoes, and they were light, fluffy, buttery, creamy, heavenly, melting in your mouth.
I had read that the dark chocolate mousse is normally plated at the table, for a bit of showmanship, but I think because of the number at our table, it was served already plated. Light, full chocolate flavour.
I ordered the crêpes suzette, served with macerated oranges. By that time of night it was dark outside, and the light more dim inside, so the pouring of the lit Cognac and Grand Marnier liqueur, with its blue flame, onto the crêpes provided some drama. The rich orange flavours and the lightness of the crêpes were even better than I could have imagined they’d be. Another dish I’d order again because it was so good.
The raspberry soufﬂe, served with a raspberry sorbet, was gorgeous. I’ve had it previously there at Ad Lib. The souffle is incredibly light, and the raspberry so definite. The raspberry sorbet ball rests on tiny crumbles of something like a butterscotch, presumably to stop it from rolling around the plate (and the crunchiness adds texture).
After dessert we were served tea, coffee and petit fours, which were delicious chocolate truffles.
A wonderful evening. Superb food, superb company and superb service. What more could one ask?
Here are the latest details for Ad Lib Bistro, Pymble (details are different for Ad Lib Bistro at Double Bay). Check their web site for current information.
|Address||1047 Pacific Highway, Pymble, NSW, Australia|
|Phone||02 9988 0120|
|Open||Lunch: Mon-Fri, 12 noon – 2:30pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat, 5pm – 10pm
Also open from 10am Mon-Fri for coffee and dessert
|Menu||French, Mains $25-45|
Where have you gone for a memorable celebration meal?
Looks like a nice spread of tasty food. Congrats on the “round birthday”, and what a nice way to do it. My round birthday is a mere few weeks away (40th) and I’m yet to plan anything
Yes, it was excellent food, full of flavour. Thanks for the birthday wishes. Hope you can get to do something special for your 40th, even if it’s with a few friends. Gotta mark these milestones somehow. And, it’s a good excuse to get out do something you like 🙂
happy birthday and woooo fire! love the shot of the crepes suzette!
Thanks, @chocolatesuze! The crepes suzette were delish.
Happy Birthday! what a great place to celebrate.
If you enjoyed Ad Lib, you must also try Bistro Felix in the Ivy complex in the city. Another fab French bistro….and very close to Angel Place Recital Hall
Hi Ros! Thanks for the wishes, and the tip about Bistro Felix. Mmmm… sounds good.
Happy Birthday! Unfortunately I have yet to visit a French Restaurant, but I’d really like this to be my first one. The raspberry souffle looks AMAZING.
Yes, Jasmyne, the souffle was one of the best I’ve had – incredibly light all the way through, and I don’t know how they managed to get such a good raspberry flavour. I would have thought that that it would be much weaker in flavour. I’ve been very happy with my Ad Lib Bistro visits.
Happy Belated Birthday Andrea!! Your menu looks fantastic! So yummy and beautiful!! xoxo
~Juliane of http://www.StyleNectar.com
Thanks, Juliane! Yes, it was a wonderful celebration, with every element being as I hoped.