The Date: Monday 26th September 2011 (yes, I’m a few weeks behind in this review, but I still wanted you to know about this fantastic place).
My Date: Dad. For our usual father-daughter catch up and general chin-wag.
What Is It: A quiet little suburban bistro, tucked away on the High Street of Willoughby. Surrounded by a vet clinic, a hairdresser and the usual village shops, this unexpected corner restaurant is light, but cosy, with funky wallpaper, a long booth and an indoor/outdoor front section, perfect for people watching (and animal watching, as they head into the vet’s next door!).
• Entree: Salmon brandade, cornichons and sourdough; Crisp fried Zucchini Flowers filled with crab & lime on a shaved brussel sprout salad lemon & white anchovy – we shared the entrees. Not that you can really call it sharing when essentially we were racing to take the next mouthful before each other. You’ve never seen a blob of salmon brandade disappear so quickly. Perfect in texture and not too fishy, combined with the little cornichons and the thinly sliced and toasted sourdough, it was hard not to wish I hadn’t suggested sharing…
• Main: Roasted herb infused spatchcock (deboned) on crushed potato, new season broadbeans & white anchovy, celery heart salad; Grilled Lamb backstrap with a goats cheese, pine nut, watercress & blood orange salad, jus & crisp croutons; Rocket salad with organic almonds, black pepper & lemon – Dad had the lamb and it seemed to me that I held quite a one-sided conversation through the main course, as he was pretty focussed on his lamb. Always a good sign. I had the spitchcock, which (as always) left me in awe of a person who can debone a small bird and still keep the overall structure in place. That’s impressive knife skills. The combo of the broad beans and anchovies was the perfect accompaniment to the richness of the bird, the tanginess just taking the edge off. And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the pettiest salad I’ve ever seen. Flowers and nuts – oh my!
• Dessert: Warm dark chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream & smashed raspberries – just something, chocolatey and warm to end the night. It was perfectly gooey in the centre. And smashed might be my new favourite way to eat raspberries.
We Drank: BYO Red Wine – The Black Chook Shiraz. A plucky name, a funky bottle, a tasty red.
Cost: Really good value for quality of food & service, in the quiet of the ‘burbs. Entrees $18-$23, Mains $25-$35, Desserts $12-$19. Corkage $10 per bottle.
The slogan: “Respect Thy Produce”. A very good tip.
The single waiter. Calm down. No I didn’t ask if he was single. I mean he was the only waiter working that night. And he was fab. Efficient, chatty and with an indefinable accent.
The food. Good looking, simple-fancy and so tasty.
The website. Black & white sketches of animals in top hats. What’s not to love?
The BYO. There’s something so good about not paying fifty bucks in a restaurant for a bottle that you could have bought at the bottl’o for fifteen.
The perfect dinner roll. Round, floury, fluffy white goodness.
Loathed: The people sitting at the tables around us; they weren’t speaking to each other so they felt they might as well just listen in on our conversation. There’s nothing I hate more than bored couples playing restaurant eavesdroppers. Which perhaps suggest that the tables were too close together (or I was talking too loudly…).
The Final Word: Loved it. It was brilliant. I have to say, I think we were both surprised by this hidden gem. I recommend it to all North Siders looking for a mid-week place to get a fix of funky but casual.
High Street Bistro
197 High Street
WILLOUGHBY NSW 2060
Lunch & Dinner 7 Days
Fully Licensed. BYO.