Sunday, 6 September 2015

Fish Lane Bistro - Southbank

Standing on the bridge above Cultural Centre Busway, you may notice Fish lane tucked away off Grey Street. I've always had it on my list of places to go for quite a number of months, but never gotten around to attending. Last week though, we were lucky enough to get invited to try out the new Spring Menu at Fish Lane Bistro, designed by their executive chef Jay Rowley.


You'll find Fish Lane Bistro, down the street from Julius Pizzeria. It's situated on the ground floor of the fox hotel, near the Long Bar.

We arrived ten minutes ahead of our booking, but were greeted warmly by our host who showed us to our table. The decor was modern and chic, with a general wooden theme. The restaurant was sparsely filled when we arrived, but by the time we finished, it was quite full.

We perused the menu eagerly. Despite Fish Lane Bistro being described as modern Australian cuisine, we found there to be definite strong French influences to the dishes. 

Table water was provided very promptly as we were deliberating what to order. I particularly liked the embedded bottle holder in the table. It saved space and ensured that there would be no accidents when it came to tall bottles falling down or breaking. 

To start off our evening, we tried two of their cocktails, I had the Strawberry Fields, whilst my companion had the New York Sour. The Strawberry fields contained Ketel One Vodka, Pavan, Crème de Pèche with strawberries and mint. It was refreshing, with a good balance between the sweet and sourness of the drink. It was a very appetizing drink in my opinion, and the coolness of the mint and ice contrasted the warmth of the alcohol when drinking it. My companion's drink was comprised of whiskey, lemon juice, bitters, egg white, shiraz and some cinnamon. I tried a sip and found it to be quite spicy, probably due to the cinnamon and whiskey. My companion found it to be very tangy, but we both agreed it wasn't as sour as we had expected.  

Our host came over during our drinks, and made a number of very good suggestions about what to order. I noted that everything we had actually ordered was on the sign up near the door, which was a nice coincidence.

Our entrees came after a short wait.

I tried the Blue Cheese Soufflé first. It was delectably light and puffy, and reminded me strongly of light chiffon cakes. The texture was very smooth and soft. I was quite hesitant to choose this dish, because I find blue cheese to be very strong and pungent, but I was impressed actually at how the strength of the cheese was infused into the soft souffle. The sauce was rich and creamy without being overpowering, but the added fig was a bit strange, as the added sweetness seemed a bit excess for my tastes. My companion enjoyed the figs though, and said they added an extra layer of flavour and complexity to the dish. 

The other entree we tried was the Scallops with Chorizo. Our host introduced the dish with a lot of enthusiasm, and explained that the scallops were sourced from Japan, twice weekly. There was a horseradish sauce and pea puree under every portion. The scallops were seared to have a very nice brown top, I note that it was cooked just right in the middle, as its quite easy to overdo things like scallops. The chorizo was firm and contrasted the soft scallops. The horseradish added the extra zing to the dish, which made it all the more enjoyable.

After finishing our entrees, our mains came soon after.

We shared the crispy skinned twice cooked duck with steamed Asian greens and orange caramel sauce. Our host explained that the duck was free range sourced from Hunter Valley. Whilst the skin was definitely more crispy than any other ducks that I've had. However on the flip side, the flesh had lost most of its moisture and was very dry and stringy. We tried mixing it with the orange caramel sauce, but that only slightly improved the experience. The Asian veges on the other hand were cooked very well. They were soft but still maintained a level of crispiness. My companion and I had differing opinions on the sauce, he found it to be a tinge too sweet, whilst I found it to be just right to complement the dish.

Despite our differing opinions of the orange caramel sauce, we both definitely agreed that the Steak Frites was one of the absolutely best that we've ever had. The steak was cooked to near perfection, the flesh was smooth without being overly fatty, and it was sliced for our convenience. The sauce maison (which is a sauce based with garlic and cheese) complemented the steak very well. Our host mentioned that it is designed to taste like the steaks that one would enjoy on the streets of Paris. Being an avid fan of garlic, I appreciated the strong comforting garlicy and herby taste very much. We ate any remaining sauce we had with the french fries. I don't have much to say about the fries, except that it was cut to a very nice thickness, and was fried to a nice level of crispiness, which made the dish very satisfying.

There was quite a wait between when I finished my mains to when dessert was served. This was mainly attributed to my companion taking a very long time to eat his meal, as he had decided to eat three doughnuts for afternoon tea.

The first dessert we shared was the passionfruit brûlée served with macadamia biscotti. The creme brulee was nicely caramelized on the top, with a crispy sugar coating. We enjoyed it because it had the added sour tang of the passionfruit, which distinguished it nicely from the other creme brulees that I've had before. To contrast the tanginess, the biscotti was very mild and crispy. My companion found it very agreeable. 

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the Apple Tarte Tartin, which our host described as his favourite dessert. It consisted of caramelised granny smith apples, which were then marinated in cinnamon and covered with a puff pastry to bake, and then flipped over and topped with vanilla ice cream and fairy floss. My companion found this dessert to be very rich, but I found it to be just right. I loved how the pastry was soft and flaky, and how the vanilla ice cream contained ground up vanilla beans. Having tried the cinnamon pineapple at Navala, I really appreciated the added spiciness of the apple, which greatly accentuated the sweetness of the apple. I also enjoyed how the fairy floss melted into the ice cream. 

Overall, we had a very enjoyable evening at Fish Lane Bistro. Given the opportunity, we would definitely go back and try the other things on their menu.

Price Range: $35 - $50 pp

Taste: 8.5/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 8/10

Espresso and Matcha were invited guests of Fish Lane Bistro,but all opinions are our own.

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