Archives For Paris

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


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.

Web Site
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?

Ah, Paris, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

My apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for mangling her poem, but that’s the best way of expressing what I think of Paris.

I’ve posted a few comments about places I’ve eaten lately, and seeing this is “Eat. TRAVEL. Bliss.” I thought I should have one travel-related post. The first just had to be on Paris.

I’m going to take you on a walk around the heart of Paris, pointing out a few favourite places along the way. It’s difficult to limit the number of places, because there are so many, but this is a start.

The photos here were taken in winter, with much darker light, and quite a lot of rain (and freeeezing cold weather). Somewhere down the road I’ll post more photos and details about other favourite places.


The tour of some of my favourite places around Paris starts at the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries, the green place marker on this map:

The mini-tour below goes clockwise from the green marker, at Musée de l’Orangerie. As soon as I land in Paris this is basically the walk I take, to see the best of Paris along the way. There’s so much I could say about other fabulous places along the way, or with minor detours. I’ve needed to keep this as brief as possible, for just one post. More details will need to wait for other posts!

1. View from Musée de l’Orangerie looking towards the Louvre

The starting point is in the Jardin des Tuileries, just outside the Musée de l’Orangerie. That means I would have just been to soak up Monet’s water-lily paintings covering the walls inside. Truly bliss.

2. The Grand Bassin Octagonal in the Jardin des Tuileries

From there l’Orangerie I would make my way to the Grand Bassin Octagonal, and sit on one of the chairs there, watching kids sail boats, watching people walk by, looking around, towards the Louvre, the buildings along the rue de Rivoli, down the wide avenues down towards the Place de la Concorde. Love just resting there, breathing in the air, soaking up the atmosphere.

3. Café Le Nemours, Place Colette

It must be about time for lunch, so I would head over Place Collette, on one side of the Palais-Royal (another favourite place), to Café Le Nemours for a light lunch. Typically, I would order a quiche with chevre and salad, of course served with slices of baguette, and a glass of red. Another place to sit and watch the world go by while savouring the food.

4. The Louvre

Another must-see place, at least to walk by, is the Pyramide du Louvre. I tend to find the Louvre overwhelming, and should take smaller bite-sized views to avoid that. I don’t go there every visit to Paris because of that, but I do love to walk through the courtyard here where the Pyramid is located. A beautiful place, with the stunning Pyramid, the historic and picturesque and huge Palais du Louvre, the fountains. Atmospheric, day or night.

5. Pont des Arts

Another place I must go to linger is the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian-only, wood-paved bridge across the Seine, between the Louvre and the Institut de France. Sit or stand here, looking up and down the Seine, watching the bateaux-mouches and the heavily-laden cargo vessels, seeing so many of the landmarks of Paris, including the Tour Eiffel, the Cathédrale Notre Dame, and the Île de la Cité.

6. Pompidou Centre

The photo at the top of the post is taken from the upper levels of the Pompidou Centre. I love the art there, finding it always stretches my creativity and my head. Inspiring. At the top right of the photo you can see
Cathédrale Notre Dame (another favourite place).

7. Place des Vosges

Wander on over to through the Marais to the Place des Vosges, the old square, with apartments, restaurants, hotels, and shops around the outside, and garden in the middle. Classic Paris.

Oh, I could write so much about the areas around each of these “favourite places”, and more.

8. Patrick Allain, Fleuriste, Île Saint-Louis

I would then wander over to the Île Saint-Louis, window-shopping, looking at Patrick Allain Fleuriste, a fabulous cheese shop, stopping off at Berthillon for a glace.

9. Métro

It doesn’t really make sense to catch the Métro to the next stop, but I had to include it in the list of things to do in Paris, with the Métro making it so easy to criss-cross the city. It’s fun looking at the character of each of the stations, reflecting the area above.

10. Café Delmas, Place de la Contrescarpe

I usually catch the métro to Censier-Daubenton, and wander up rue Mouffetard on a market day, loving walking up the narrow street, looking at all of the food shops along the way, and restaurants galore. Whatever fresh food you want to buy, you can always buy there, cheese, olive oil, breads, meats, fish, wine, and so on.

To take a break, I like to stop at Café Delmas for a coffee. Another place to sit and watch the world go by. Cars go zooming through the Place, people are always hurrying by, and the fountain in the square in the middle splashes.

11. Jardin du Luxembourg

Heading back to our starting point, another place to explore, and linger, is the Jardin du Luxembourg. While I love the Jardin des Tuileries, somehow the Jardin du Luxembourg seems more peaceful, more laid-back. I love wandering around the variety of gardens, looking at the beehives, watching people play chess, seeing the kids play on the playground, and others just sitting back and relaxing. Even on freezing winter days I’ve still seen people enjoying being here, eating their lunch, trying to catch whatever warmth could be found from the sun’s rays.

12. Église Saint-Sulpice

Every time I get to Paris I always spend some time in Église Saint-Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris. There’s a 20-minute or so organ performance at the end of the Sunday morning service, with a regular organ recital later in the day.

13. Musée d’Orsay

The last blissful place in Paris in this list is the Musée d’Orsay. I have to get there every visit, loving see the Corots, Renoirs, Manets, and so on. Such goodness, but not overwhelming like the Louvre.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-review of some of the highlights of Paris. I have! Such memories. It is such a rich place, with so much to see and do. I never understand how people can visit Paris for just a few days at a time. You need time to see sights such as these, but above all, to explore, to sit and soak it up, to discover fabulous little places in the back-streets, to shop at the food markets.

I bet you’re thinking: “what about …” and “why not mention … “. Hopefully I’ll get back to writing more posts digging more into the delights of Paris.

What are your favourite places in Paris? I’d love to hear.