With a discreet gold nameplate as the only indication that this sandstone building has shifted its game from cutting locks to cutting-edge cuisine, it would be easy to walk right by Bridge Street’s newest restaurant resident. What you would miss out on by doing so is a new casual-fine diner hybrid.
Looking down upon a somewhat rowdy dining room with exposed brick walls, bistro chairs, and a distinct lack of white tablecloths, chef and co-owner, Harry Stockdale-Powell, is putting out upper class comfort food from a mezzanine loft kitchen. You’ll love Bouche on Bridge if you’re done with degustations, crave less fuss, or if you’re keen to spend less time at the table, all without compromising on things like a great wine list. Arranged by grape varietal, this list is a cracker. It even holds joy for drinkers who like less common wines, like the vermentino, roussanne, white Grenache blend in the 2015 Clos des Fées ‘Les Sorcières’ ($80) from Roussillon, France.
With punchy acidity, stone fruit and a herbaceous edge, this ‘white Grenache’ is just the ticket to accompany your Oyster, Blood Orange, Wakame ($4/each). The combination is clever, leaving space for the briny oyster to speak.
Juicy Jerusalem Artichokes, Parsley Root, Sheep’s Milk ($22) are cooked sous vide, then tossed on the grill, giving them a wet, smoky edge that plays well against the crisp, the creamy and the vividly green accompaniments.
Cloudy Bay Diamond Clams ($34) are plump and briny, but served in a punishingly salty celeriac and beer sauce. It’s an obvious mistake that was addressed well by the gun floor team. We were offered a replacement dish and an explanation - two chefs salted the dish with neither tasting – and when we refused, it was later removed from the bill without fanfare.
Chicken, Hay, White Soy ($29) presents a juicy half bird that had been brined then hay smoked and finally slow-roasted until it achieved an attractive golden skin. It's presented on a chunky puddle of bread sauce seasoned with white soy that you'll want to lap up with a spoon - that is if you can tear yourself away from the Baked Mash ($12). Oven baking the spuds helps to intensify their flavour in this sinfully good pot of creamy, buttery potato.
Only four weeks in, our standout waiter is able to rattle off cooking techniques with ease, and exchange comparative restaurant recommendations (Fred’s from him, Ester from us), as we converse over the pumping seventies soundtrack while ordering dessert. A shared Mandarin, Shortbread, Fennel ($18) did everything we needed from it, after a meal of salty, rich creamy excesses. There were enough elements – mandarin curd, sorbet, and segments, finely shaved fennel, fennel custard and shortbread crumbs – to keep our mouths interested, without adding too much bulk.
Bouche on Bridge
6 Bridge Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 8278 9400