Une nuit à la maison publique (A night at Le Pub)2 September 2013
With the proliferation of high end French restaurants, it is nice to know there are small offerings of casual dining that provide quality food with a more relaxed attitude. Nestled in the basement between King and York streets in the CBD is the Parisian-style bistro, Le Pub, which offers just that – honest French meals in a non-pretentious atmosphere. The ambience is reminiscent of a speakeasy and is the perfect escape from the bustling city.
There are two entrances to this underground space. I used the King street entrance which meant that I had to go through a sea of yuppies enjoying their end-of-working-week libation, a bar with brass and copper fittings and quite possibly the most un-enthused DJ crammed in the corner. Note to self – “use the York street entrance for a more direct route to the dining area”. That said, once I waded through the obstacle courses, I was transported to another era circa 1800s; the dining cul-de-sac was fitted with intimate booths amongst tiled walls and light ceilings.
This ‘scrabble’-like walls are all around the dining area, a playful French throw-back with words like quenelle, versailles and croque-madame.
The wait staff were friendly and casual although our waitress who introduced herself and said “I’ll be looking after you for the night” very rapidly disappeared and we didn’t see her for the rest of the night. Despite that, the rest of the attentive staff were more than happy to recommend their favourites and what is popular amongst the diners. After our gin and tonic aperitif, we perused the wine list which was impressive and featured Australian and French wines. We settled with a bottle of 2012 Yves Cuilleron Syrah.
Executive chef Ronny Ghantous’ philosophy is to showcase the simplicity and robust flavours of French food. For entrée, we ordered the charcuterie platter which consisted of homemade duck rillette, pork and pistachio terrine, Parisian saucisson, red pepper relish, pickled vegetables and a celeriac remoulade with breads and cornichons. The highlight of the platter were the duck rillette and the pork and pistachio terrine. The terrine was a personal favourite – sweet and subtle, punctuated by the nutty flavour of the pistachios.
Seduced by the romance of eating snails in a French setting, we couldn’t help but order some escargot. They arrived, well presented and well cooked – rich and buttery. I would have liked them a little more salted but that still didn’t take away the romantic notion of eating snails in a French bistro.
In true French fashion, I ordered the confit duck for main and my companion ordered a rump steak with pomme frites. The servings were generous and, true to his form, Chef Ghantous delivers honest, everyday French food.
The confit duck, cooked to perfection, sat on a bed of du Puy lentils, roasted beetroot and carrot puree. A visually stunning dish, only to be rivalled by the piquancy of the duck.
We went against our full bellies and ordered dessert. The apple and blueberry brioche crumble on the menu was impossible to ignore. Another stunningly prepared dish served, deconstructed, with crème patissiere and vanilla bean ice cream.
All in all, Le Pub delivers a great option for an impressive yet casual French fare and a down-to-earth service you rarely find in the CBD.
Le Pub is located on 66 King Street, Cnr of York Street, Sydney.
GO FOR: The location, the duck and the steak.
STAY FOR: The wine selection, the attentive service and the ambience.