|Bistro Avoca, Avoca Street, Randwick|
|Inside Bistro Avoca|
It's more sophisticated than your average suburban restaurant, which is an intriguing niche that Randwick appears to have been dying for (I’m told Friday and Saturday nights get completely booked out).
The clever food menu begins with starters to share followed by entrées and mains, but it’s the wine menu that astonishes me. Wines by the glass are all under $8 while no bottle of wine exceeds $40 – prices quite unheard of. Plus the restaurant allows BYO wine from Tuesdays through to Thursdays.
|Thai oyster shots with, fresh herbs and ginger, garlic, chilli, lemongrass & lime nam jim|
It wasn't a one throwback shooter, but the melee of flavours in the mildly spiced, Thai inspired shot reached a peak with the release of briney juices from the oyster. It wasn’t easy stopping at just one, especially those deliciously fresh oysters.
|Salt & pepper squid with spring onions, chilli and lime|
A heavier hand in seasoning could have made this the best S&P squid ever, but it still stands as the best value squid dish I’ve seen in a while ($8.50).
|Blinis served warm with sliced smoked salmon, pickled Spanish onion and dill sour cream|
The long, rectangular plate was virtually covered in the bright orange smoked salmon, twisted over pikelet-sized blinis with cucumber slices, pickled Spanish onion in a fine dice and dill-spiked sour cream splodges.
|Crisp fried pork belly, sweet chilli glaze, shoestring potatoes, watercress salad|
The raw vegetables alleviated some of the guilt in such a decadent entrée; though not so much the deep fried potato straws.
|Twice cooked crisp duck leg with apple, radish and celery salad, candied walnuts|
The rich, moist flesh matched insanely well with the salad nest of Waldorf-esque sweet and tart green apple, radish, thinly cut celery and candied walnuts. Just all round lovely washed down with a most affordable glass of 2008 Vasse Felix Shiraz Cabernet ($7.50).
|Seared sea scallops, cauliflower puree, bacon crumble and pesto oil|
The bacon crumble was a great textural addition atop each huge, bouncy mollusc and added flavour to the scallops which, while impressive in size, seemed to lack their usual natural sea-sweetness.
|Medallions of beef, roast potato, sweet pumpkin puree, asparagus and |
cracked pepper hollandaise
The pumpkin puree added sweetness to the overall dish while the tenderness of the beef was a real highlight, even though the stomach seemed to be reaching a capacity of sorts after just one of the medallions.
|Lamb rump with colcannon, deep fried zucchini flowers and sugar snap peas|
And beneath, colcannon – mashed potato with bacon, cabbage and other bits – added more sustenance for the man-sized meal. I’m glad we decided to forgo orders of sides but we had to make room for dessert.
|Dessert special: Lemon meringue with ice cream|
|Bistro Avoca tasting plate: coconut pannacotta, raspberry jelly and |
dark chocolate mousse
The chocolate mousse was by far the best: a big chocolate hit, airy as a cloud texture and a bit of crunch with the praline crumbs on top. The raspberry jelly was pleasant with the mousse, with real bits of raspberry heightening the experience.
|(Clockwise from left) Coconut panna cotta, dessert wine and raspberry jelly|
|Vanilla and raspberry Bombe Alaska with rhubarb confit and praline|
The cooked rhubarb and praline bits added colour and interest to the overall plating, but ultimately were unneccessary. Just more of that raspberry ice cream would have kept me happy for days.
The restaurant was surprisingly not empty at a fairly late weeknight hour, with plenty of happy faces still dining on the, let's admit it, large servings of modern Australian food. And with such good value and interesting dishes to be had, Bistro Avoca is a welcome breath of freshness for Randwick.
Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Bistro Avoca with thanks to Charlotte Foot Public Relations.