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Monday, March 28, 2011

Baroque Bistro, The Rocks, Sydney

I'll admit it. We ended up at Baroque Bistro lured mostly by the promise of dessert.  We'd taken the selection of venues quite seriously - I'd even knocked up an online survey with a shortlist of options - and when the votes came in, the sweet tooths won with an overwhelming majority in favour of combining a bistro lunch with a patisserie finish.

Fresh baguettes

The last time I'd been here, it was in the kitchen for the macaron masterclass. We press our noses up against the display counter of desserts as we enter, but we move on quickly to the dining room: today we're all about sitting back and eating well.

Pastry chef

Extra virgin olive oil macarons

Pompadour raspberry and passionfruit mousse with pine nut nougatine and almond sponge

Baroque dining room

Locals and tourists looking for a quick cup of a coffee or a casual bite to eat tend to sit at the tables outside, ideal when the sun is shining like today. Inside the dining room is split into two areas, the first section facing the kitchen, the second accessed by a narrow doorway of exposed brick.

The inner dining room is super shiny with hanging copper light fittings reminiscent of the 1970s, and a metallic feature wall that creates multiple reflections. Curved booth seating along one wall is cosy for couples, but they miss out on glimpses of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House behind them.

There are no tablecloths to be seen, but the rose pink acrylic chairs and polished wine glasses create an distinct contrast against the rough and raw walls and metal pipes overhead. What the dining room does have is an abundance of natural light, filling the space with warmth and energy.

Roasted baby beetroot, goats curd, candied walnuts and cumin-infused orange $17

We're a group of six today and we manage to cover most of the menu with minimal overlap. Our dishes arrive neatly together, and are plated in an impressive fashion that prompts head-swivelling comparisons.

The roasted baby beetroot is a blackboard special, the segments of cumin-infused orange cloaked in a dramatic mist of dry ice (faintly visible in the shot above). The earthiness of baby beetroot pairs well with the candied walnuts, scattered around a curving trail of creamy goats curd.

Fricassé of calamari, saffron cracker and crab cream $19
Fricassé de calamares, croquant au saffran, crème de crabes

The fricasse of calamari takes everyone by surprise with its appearance, but the nubbins of calamari pieces are tender albeit fiddly to eat. By this stage we're swapping plates left, right and centre for maximum tastings, and I'm quite taken by the saffron cracker which is crisp and fragrant. 

Scallops a la plancha, sweet corn, lime, roast onion, foie cream $20
Coquilles St Jacques à la plancha, maïs, citron vert, oignon rôti, crème de foie gras

The classic Coquilles St Jacques is livened in this version with kernels of sweet corn. Fat discs of seared scallops are played off against puddles of foie cream and caramelised curls of roasted onion.

Confit Bangalow pork neck, mussel and lovage emulsion, garlic, charred leek $16
Confit de porc Bangalow, émulsion de moules avec ache de montagne, poireaux brulés

I'd ordered the confit of Bangalow pork neck, and though the flesh is fatty and tender, I'm more enamoured by the baby leeks, split down the middle and charred on one side. They're sweet and smoky, and I eat the entire vegetable brush with glee. And could there be a more evocative-sounding sauce than a mussel and lovage emulsion?

One hour organic hens egg, whipped potato and prosciutto $16
Oeuf bio confit, pomme de terre au siphon, prosciutto

The dish which got everyone all hot and bothered, however, was the one hour organic hens egg. A tentative prod with a fork bursts forth a splash of perfectly runny golden yolk. A ring of whipped potato is buttery rich and silky smooth.

The open kitchen

Mincing beef for the steak tartare

Dish of the day: Steak tartare with chips $25
Plat du jour: Steak tartare, frites

A wander past the open kitchen had given me a preview of the preparation behind my main, the steak tartare. It arrives like a small turret, garnished with micro leaves and topped with an egg yolk still in its shell. Tipping the egg yolk onto the meat isn't a problem, but having a leftover shell with nowhere to put it feels a little awkward, particularly when I'm trying to mix everything altogether on my plate.

The tartare is a little fatty and over-seasoned with capers for my liking, and I'm left reminiscing about the admittedly much more expensive version I still dream about at the now defunct Forty One.

300 day pure Angus flank steak, cauliflower, thyme emulsion, truffle powder $30
Bavette, choufleur, émulsion de thym truffe en poudre

We take turns dipping our forks into dishes that run through beef, duck and seafood. Slices of Angus flank steak pair well with roasted cauliflower, made fancier with smithereens of frozen truffle snow.

Tea smoked duck breast, mushroom, creamed corn, watercress, rye $33
Magret de canard fumé au thé, champignon, crème de mais, cresson, seigle

Tea smoked duck breast is disappointingly mild in smokiness but cooked to a luscious and juicy shade of pink.

Grilled yellow eye mullet, puy lentils, olive, grilled fennel, bacon vinaigrette $29
Mulet grillé, lentilles du puy, olives, fenouil grillé, vinaigrette aux lardons

Grilled yellow eye mullet is also cooked well, served with roasted spears of heirloom carrots in purple and orange.

Braised octopus, compressed cucumber, saffron new potato, olive, verbena $32
Poulpe braisé, concombre sous vide, pommes de terre nouvelles au saffron, olive, verveine

The thick tentacles of braised octopus receive mixed reports on tenderness, depending on their width, and the olive glaze on the side is a little overpowering. Saffron-boiled potatoes provide a striking contrast in colour but the potato galette, although pretty to look at, are soft and chewy.

Creamy Paris mash $9
Purée de pommes de terre

For sides, we share the green beans in garlic butter ($9) and the creamy Paris mash, served in an ever-so-cute Staub La Cocotte miniature cast iron pot. The Paris mash is gloriously sticky, a thick puree that is generous with butter.

Looking into the second dining room


Perhaps it was my photo-taking, or maybe it was due to our large group happily ploughing through a three-course lunch, but our table is presented with a complimentary plate of macarons. The thin crisp shells give way to soft ganache-filled centres. The salted caramel macaron is still my favourite.

Vanilla crème brulée, pistachio ice cream $16
Crème brulée à la vanille, glace á la pistache

It's amazing how egg yolks, sugar and cream can have such a hold on so many women. The vanilla creme brulee arrives in a shallow dish, a rink of brittle toffee protecting a layer of silky custard. A scoop of pistachio ice cream on the side is overwhelmingly strong in flavour, and probably unnecessary against the simple elegance of the creme brulee.

Valrhona chocolate tart, peanut butter, roast banana ice cream $16
Tartelette au chocolat Valrhona, beurre de cacahuètes, glace aux bananes rôties

I'd ordered the Valrhona chocolate tart, another surprise interpretation that is not the baked version I'd expected. A foamy layer of chocolate mousse is draped over a tart shell, but I have more fun with the mix of powders on the side. Delicate crystals of peanut snow melt instantly on the tongue whereas chocolate-covered pop rocks take their time to explode and create havoc against the roof of my mouth. Roast banana ice cream has the subtle taste of fresh banana and finding peanuts covered in gold dust is like discovering buried treasure.

Stone fruit compote, elderflower granite, yoghurt sorbet $16
Compote de fruits à noyeau, granité fleurs de sureau, sorbet au yaourt

Stone fruit compote looks and tastes so healthy, it feels more like breakfast than dessert. Yoghurt sorbet has a welcome tang and the elderflower granita is cool and refreshing.

White peach and almond soufflé, peach sorbet, cats tongues $16
Souffle aux pêches blanches et amandes, langues de chat

The most spectacular dessert would have to be the white peach and almond souffle, jauntily rising above the constraints of its ramekin prison. The souffle is light and airy and generously served with a scoop of peach sorbet, macaron, two cats tongues and a decadent dusting of gold feulletine.

View Larger Map
Baroque | Bistro Bar Patisserie on Urbanspoon

88 George Street, The Rocks
(corner of Hickson Road)
Tel: +61 (02) 9241 4811

Opening hours:
Lunch Monday to Sunday 12pm - 3pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6pm - 10.30pm
Patisserie menu Monday to Saturday 12pm - late, Sunday 12pm-4.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Baroque Patisserie Macaron Masterclass
22 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/28/2011 03:14:00 am


  • At 3/28/2011 5:11 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    I've always come here for the sweets and I knew the savoury dishes were pretty good too, but the hen's egg, oh my! :-)

  • At 3/28/2011 8:50 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Everything's so pretty! Have prices gone up though...?

  • At 3/28/2011 9:54 am, Anonymous Gastronomous Anonymous said…

    oh wow - i have wanted to come here for a while now! everything looks so wonderful and love your photos!

  • At 3/28/2011 10:41 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    teehee calamari nubbins! and rise little souffle rise!

  • At 3/28/2011 12:34 pm, Blogger susan said…

    Wow I didn't realise their savoury dishes were so well presented. That souffle looks pretty special though!

  • At 3/28/2011 12:46 pm, Anonymous Jenny (Figs and Brie) said…

    OH MY GOD oh mygod the eggs and the tartare took so amazing. Actually everything looks amazing!

  • At 3/28/2011 1:17 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    the desserts here are amazing and the dishes never fail to impress me with their presentation! the hens egg sounds awesome - I hope it's still on the menu next time I visit!

  • At 3/28/2011 2:52 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Helen, this is one of those posts where I'm rendered speechless, and then feel badly because I can't adequately convey to you the beauty and excitement and yum-ness of what you've shown us. OMGSQUISH!

  • At 3/28/2011 3:08 pm, Anonymous carol said…

    the white peach and almond soufflé looks good :-)

  • At 3/28/2011 4:10 pm, Blogger Kaydee said…

    I love this restaurant. We went for a pre-Christmas do last year and it immediately became my new favourite. Food divine, service spot on, not too pricey and almost perfect location.

    Fantastic post and photos as always :-)


  • At 3/28/2011 5:58 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    omg i love their desserts! their savouries look really awesome too and doesnt cost a fortune! im gonna go and try it out

  • At 3/28/2011 6:31 pm, Anonymous Renita said…

    great lighting in all your shots! I went there only last week and it feels like their food have stepped it up a knotch or two. Always went back for the macarons but the food this time were better than I remembered!

  • At 3/28/2011 9:19 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    While some of the mains sounded like they were a bit disappointing all the food looks just gorgeous and those desserts are to die for!

  • At 3/28/2011 10:22 pm, Anonymous sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    There is not one dish that I would not want to order. Helen, I am terrible at making decisions and you just made my dining companion's life even more of a trial. All looks wonderful :)

  • At 3/30/2011 10:31 am, Blogger Georgia said…

    So many beautiful dishes there Helen! But for now, I'm dreaming of the creme brulee, the souffle and some of that crusty baguette, yum!

  • At 3/30/2011 4:44 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    hot! Think you just found a nice little gem for after dinner desserts.

  • At 3/30/2011 11:54 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    The souffle (and seemingly any dessert involving eggwhites) has a stronghold on me! And the plate of complimentary macarons in their rainbow of colours is like Skittles but definitely in a more refined form.

  • At 3/31/2011 1:07 am, Blogger Viv said…

    every single dish there are soo beautifully presented (or u just photographed them reallly well!!) that 1 hour egg dish is kinda interesting...and the peach souffle is def calling out to me right now.

  • At 3/31/2011 10:37 am, Anonymous Michal said…

    Helen, we must thank you for such a beautiful, well-rounded review. And the photos... Oh we absolutely love them! You have such a talent. The dishes you tried were from the newly launched Autumn menu. In fact you were the first to review them! There's always a period of adjustment when new menus are released, and feedback like yours is a big help. The tea-smoked duck is certainly a tough one to balance. For some it's too smokey, for others, not enough! On behalf of team Baroque, keep up the great work.

  • At 4/01/2011 12:41 am, Blogger Janine said…

    oh gosh you make everything seem so yummy! Am bookmarking this when I visit Sydney in a month's time :D

  • At 4/17/2011 10:59 pm, Anonymous Louise said…

    It's amazing how egg yolks, sugar and cream can have such a hold on so many women.

    Has a truer sentence ever been blogged? This place looks astonishing, will have to add it to my Sydney wish list.

  • At 4/17/2011 11:43 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi all - Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Hi Tina - Sorry, I'm not sure. It's been a while since my last visit.

    Hi Jacq - The hen's egg was the table favourite by far!

    Hi Michal - Thank you for leaving a response. We had a lovely lunch and service was great too.

    Hi Janine - Enjoy!


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