New Year's Eve Lunch at Ad Lib Bistro - Pymble
Not only were we celebrating the belated Christmas Day birthday of our dear friend Lol, I'd promised her Mum a fancy meal out as she'd been very kind when I was ensconced in a hospital earlier this year where she works part time.
Ad Lib was nearby and had received rave reviews.
The innovative menus at this French influenced restaurant, (for the stationery hounds amongst you, narrower than A3 but longer and wider than Foolscap), were printed on brown paper stock and folded into a neat packet which sat on our bread plates. Head Chef, Dietmar Sawyere, declares on their website that this is a restaurant which is "looking less to surprise with unexpected flavours but rather to satisfy with delicious ones, sensual pleasure rather than intellectual pleasure ..." (Poking a tongue out at molecular gastronomy perhaps?!) We firmly believe they delivered on that promise.
There were so many great sounding dishes that it was difficult to choose but there were four of us and we all chose something different so that we could try as many dishes as possible.
Les Hors D'Oeuvres Classiques - ranging from $10 for the Soup of the Day to $85 for the Oscietra Caviar,
Soup of the Day - Truffled Cauliflower
As a lover of truffles, I was sorely tempted by this and while I didn't select it in the end, I did have a taste and I think I'm going to have to go back and have myself an entire bowlful. Unfortunately, as part of their Seasonal Dishes menu, I'm going to have to find out when peak cauliflower season ends!
This was a beautiful combination of flavours which seemed to echo one of the dishes in my Boxing Day menu yet I so love Salmon that I had to have it. It didn't disappoint.
Which was sitting on a bed of celeriac remoulade, YaYa was expecting the lemony flavours to be a bit stronger but the kingfish was wonderfully fresh.
Les Plats Principaux - from $25 for the Boudin Noir to $98 for the Grilled Aged Beef Rib Eye
Boudin Noir, Caramalised Pear, Celeriac
This is Ad Lib's version of a blood sausage, something I would probably never order, yet having had a small taste, I can tell you that it was enough to change my mind. It's a shame that I'm not short of iron as this course would certainly be an easy way to increase my intake!
In hindsight (it was a hot day), this was a little heavy and way too much given my intention to have 3 courses. Luckily the others helped me out. The lamb, although cooked to perfection as far as my order and sufficient for as much as I wanted to eat, was probably just a little raw and a little chewy closer to the bone but I was happy to leave that part on the plate.
Dotted with a tiny quail's egg yolk, the small mound of beef proved to need very little else as it was so rich. As an avoider of execessively raw meat, it wasn't enough to make me try it but YaYa seemed to like it.
Lol's Mum had:
My Hospital Angel, who had declined an entree, chose to have one of the starters as a main course, something which is not only available but encouraged and so good to see! So often you want to eat 3 courses but the mains feel too heavy or you just love the sound of the entrees more. So here is a main course offering of the Sugar Cured Salmon.
Sides - from $8 for the French Fries to $10 for the Gratin Dauphinoise Potato
Of course we had to have the French Fries for you know I love my potato. They were crispy outside and fluffy inside and hot and just salty enough. The beans were beautifully crisp without being limp and I found myself wondering where they sourced their beans.
Les Desserts - ranging from $3 per scoop of sorbet to $12 for everything else
With a crispy, caramelly pastry moulded lovingly over a single pear half, this is surely a decadent dessert for the cost.
Lol's Mum had:
Requiring a 15 minute delay in the serving, we were encouraged to order this and by all accounts it was certainly worth the wait.
A light, refreshing combination for those who ate too much in the first two courses!
As pretty much all of the desserts contained egg in some form or another, I chose to have the:
Selection of Cheeses - $12 for a single serve to $24 for a Plate for 2
POSTSCRIPT: For those who live east of the city, there is a branch of this restaurant open in Double Bay.