It’s raining (again) when my partner M. and I are running to Baroque Bistro for dinner during the Easter long weekend.
The Bistro was opened last year by Sally Charkos and her sons Christophe, Olivier and Jeremy as an homage to the late Pierre Charkos, the famous Patissier behind the closely located La Renaissance Patisserie, who had a big influence on the patisserie industry in Sydney.
The restaurant is set up in a warehouse, with a lot of space, high ceilings and windows offering a beautiful view on the Harbour Bridge.
The décor is a mixture of modern (designer translucent plastic chairs, chrome lights-fittings) and traditional (copper pans hanging from the ceiling, old clocks), which would be a good way to describe their cuisine: classical French fare, but reworked with a modern twist.
The menu is mouthwatering and after considering the Baked eggs, porcini cream, toasted baguette I end up choosing the Boudin of prawns, shellfish bisque, which sounds a bit lighter. M. decides on the Salad of beetroot, goats curd cigar, walnuts.
Olivier is taking care of us that night and the service is friendly, fast and efficient. He switches effortlessly from English to French when he hears my accent, which always fascinates me, my French deteriorating to a horrible Frenglish these days.
The entries arrive shortly after the complimentary bread with olive oil and they don’t last long, as we are famished. M. is very happy with his salad, fresh and prettily presented and so am I with the boudin, which is light, melting, but crunchy at the same time thanks to the prawns pieces and the bisque sauce is so nice that I forget all about elegant sufficiency and table etiquette and use my bread to mop it to the last drop.
I take ages to decide on a main as well, but Olivier comforts me in my final decision by telling me the Duck Two Ways is a specialty of the house.
M., a vegetarian, opts for the Spelt Risotto with Mushrooms.
The Duck Two-Way is fantastic, the leg is “break-apart” tender and the breast cooked to perfection. The orange sauce offers a nice balance with the roasted beetroots and as Olivier assured me, I am really not regretting my decision.
Mushroom risotto is often the standard vegetarian option in a lot of restaurants (that and pumpkin ravioli), which, even though better than nothing, can become a bit déjà-vu after a while. However, M. is quite impressed with this dish, very creamy and flavorsome. The spelt offers a welcome change to traditional rice. Although still not very common, this cereal has been making a comeback these last years thanks to its high nutritional virtues.
In view of the reputation of both establishments in pastry matters, it seems crazy to pass on desserts, even though we are already quite full at this stage. I choose my old-time favourite, the Crème brûlée here with pistachio ice-cream. M. has his sights firmly set upon the Crêpe with caramelized apples and I can already feel the food-envy creeping in, but I still stick to the Brûlée. My fears come true when the desserts arrive and as M. starts moaning and rolling his eyes of delight. But my Brûlée defends itself quite well, even though I usually like the upper crust to be a tad harder.
I go wander and admire the macarons assortment in the display and Olivier offers us to taste a salted caramel macaron: fresh, light, melting in the mouth… delicious. Even M., who is not a huge fan of macarons, has to admit that it is the best macaron he has ever tasted.
After an espresso, we are back in the rain, content and happy with our experience. The value is pretty good, considering the high quality of the food and service, and I would definitely recommend a visit to Baroque Bistro.
Baroque Bistro Patisserie
88 George Street (corner of Hickson Road) The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9241 4811