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Café Lyon, Lindfield

October 17, 2011 — 2 Comments

A month or two back I’d read in the SMH about the opening of a new French bistro in Lindfield, Café Lyon, so I just had to try it out.

The menu is fixed, with the choice of 3 dishes for each of the 3 courses, at $65. The menu mostly changes every week, with a few favourites staying on there, and other favourites make repeat appearances every so often.

On a Saturday night there are two “sittings”, the first starting about 6pm, and we were told on booking, and again several times that we needed to be out by 8pm. That seemed limiting at first, but worked out OK, although it did mean eating and running, rather than lingering over the meal for more conversation. If a longer time is needed, I would suggest booking the later session.

Seeing we knew the time was limited we were there right on time at 6pm, but it took a bit for the staff to get their act together, which I thought was a bit odd seeing the time limit had been stressed. Once they did get going, the service was friendly and helpful. Maybe that’s all part of learning what works in a new-ish restaurant.

The tables were close together (although not as close as in France), with starched-white table cloths topped with white paper. The atmosphere was elegant but relaxed.

The wine list was not huge, but had enough choices between local and French wines.

Appetiser

I wasn’t going to take any photos of the dinner – sometimes you just want to be “in the moment” without any distractions – but when one of my friends asked about not taking any photos, well from then on I just had to. So… there are no photos of the first course.

I ordered a delightful dish with smoked salmon, topped with prawns in a tempura batter, drizzled with a citrus sauce and decorated with fish roe. Apparently this is one of the dishes which stays on the menu, and I can understand why: it’s light, tasty, with a combination of textures.

Mains

One of my friends ordered the barramundi, served on a bed of potatoes and onions:

I ordered the quail ballotine, stuffed with spinach, and also served on a bed of potatoes and onions, but with peas. The sauce was rich, full of flavour.

And then another friend had the lamb shanks, served on polenta. It was all that you would expect: rich tomato sauce and vegies, with tender meat.

Dessert

There was a parfait with white chocolate and honeycomb, with strawberries:

The ice-cream in the parfait was firm, with the honeycomb providing crunch.

And I ordered the pear tarte tatin:

The pastry was wonderfully caramelized, sitting on a rich caramel sauce dotted with finely crushed nuts, and served with vanilla ice-cream. I loved it all, with the caramel sauce and tarte and ice-cream all complementing each other well. I’d order it again.

The third option on the dessert menu was a cheese dish. None of my group ordered that, so I didn’t see how that looked.

Afters

The coffee was served in gorgeous red cups (alas, I didn’t take a photo!). Along with the coffee came some tiny treats: mini almond biscotti and berry jellies. Both gorgeous, and a good finish to the meal.

Petit fours

Conclusion

The serves were not huge, but you realized by the end of the meal that they were just right. It’s not haute cuisine or a 3-hatted restaurant, providing lots of “wow!”, but good bistro food. Three courses for $65 is a good price. Knowing that the menu changes regularly, I can imagine quite a few people make regular returns. I know I will.

Details

Here are the details about Café Lyon at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.

Web site http://cafelyon.com.au/
Address 366 Pacific Highway, Lindfield 2070, NSW
Phone (02) 9416 5026
Open lunch, Mon-Fri; dinner, Mon-Sat
Menu $65 for the 3-course meal, plus more for drinks
Cafe Lyon on Urbanspoon


What’s your favourite local French restaurant?

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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?