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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.

Ad Lib Bistro - staff

Appetisers

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:

Mains

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.

Desserts

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?

Details

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.

Web Site http://www.adlibbistro.com
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
Ad Lib Bistro on Urbanspoon


Where have you gone for a memorable celebration meal?

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The first post has to be at one of my favourite places, a place where I regularly go, to unwind, and to have a good bite to eat. This place is Galley Foods, in the Empire Marina, at Bobbin Head.

After a drive winding through the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, from Turramurra or Asquith, the view opens up to reveal parks edging a waterway coming off the Hawkesbury River. Bobbin Head is one place I’ve been going to for years, to go wander around the parks, to go for bush walks (one goes up to Mt Colah), and for kayaking. It’s peaceful.

Galley Foods is located overlooking the Empire Marina. There’s a constant stream of activity, with people working on boats, or preparing to head out on their boat. The view and the colours change with the weather.

For as long as I remember there has been a food place in the Empire Marina. It used to be more of a fast-food place (hamburgers, fried breakfasts, etc.). That was good, but I was delighted when I saw that it was upgraded, and more interesting food began to be served.

Galley Foods has a restaurant, and a kiosk for take-away foods.

Galley Foods – The Restaurant

The restaurant overlooks the marina.

Today I went back to Galley Foods for lunch, feeling like some tasty morsels, back in that favourite of locations. They have some very good cocktails on the wine list, but today I just had the Kir Royale (crème de cassis with champagne) for starters.

Today I decided to not have an appetiser, wanting to leave room for dessert! For mains I chose the roast duck leg and breast, with grilled plum, toasted almonds and baby endive salad with vincotto dressing and thyme jus. Duck is always something I enjoy, and this was no exception. The plum was not overly sweet, adding to the richness of the moist duck. The texture and almost bitterness of the endive complemented the duck, along with the slivered almonds, adding some variety to the dish. What full, rich, flavours!

My choice for dessert was the moscato jelly with a salad of strawberries, basil, honey meringues and vincotto dressing:Oh boy! Every mouthful was extraordinary. The little honey meringues added some crunch, the moscato jelly was luscious, the strawberries sweet, with the basil adding some zing.

At one table on one side of me today where a bunch of kids, and they were very happy with their calamari and fries, so there’s a variety of choices to suit most palates.

Galley Foods – The Kiosk

Galley Foods also provides food, snacks and coffee from a window, for take-away. There are a few umbrellas with tables.

Food from the Kiosk includes things like focaccias, salads, fish and fries.

A week or two back, we had the vegetarian focaccia (with hummus ,roast beetroot, shredded carrot, cucumber and baby spinach) and the salami focaccia (with rocket, tomato, artichokes, grilled eggplant, provolone cheese and aioli). Even sandwiches like this are tasty at Galley Foods. The coffee is Toby’s Estate coffee.

More around Bobbin Head

At the Empire Marina, boats can be hired for putt-putt-putting along the waterways, or for going out fishing.

There’s plenty of fish in the fresh waters of Bobbin Head. The water is tidal, so the water is clean.

More Details

Following are the current details for Galley Foods. Check their web site for more, and current details.

Web site http://www.galleyfoods.com.au
Location Empire Marina, Bobbin Head Rd, Bobbin Head, North Turramurra, NSW
Restaurant
Open Breakfast: Sat & Sun 8am-11am
Lunch: Thur to Sun 11.30am-4pm (Kitchen closes at 3pm)
Dinner: Fri, & Sat
Description Restaurant food, superb setting. There is also a bar menu for lighter, more snack food.
Price range Mains $25-35
Menu Restaurant menus
Kiosk
Open Open 7 days
Monday to Friday 8.30am-4pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm
Description Take away, with limited seating under umbrellas. Light food such as breakfast, focaccias, salads, fish and chips, Toby’s Estate coffee.
Menu Kiosk menu
Price range $5-10
Galley Foods Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Keep on going down Bobbin Head Rd until you get to Bobbin Head, and Galley Foods is in Empire Marina, off to the right.

Hopefully you can see why Galley Foods would be a favourite place to go, with food to suit the mood – whether light takeway or dining in the restaurant – in a peaceful setting, away from the rest of the world.

So, where do you go to unwind, and enjoy a tasty bite to eat?