Unpretentious is not a word often associated with the cream of Sydney’s restaurants. Yet it sums up many of my lasting feelings of our experience at The Bridge Room in the pointy end of Sydney’s CBD. Stepping back, there are many positive aspects, and some less positive aspects behind this lack of pretension.
The overall experience is excellent so my primary focus is on the best parts. The room itself, and the facade of the building, is warm and classical. The art deco architecture is accentuated to provide full impact. Inside it is not classically spaced for fine dining, but is certainly not spaced like a bistro. Touches such as the candlelight and soft furnishings create intimacy juxtaposed with the noise of a restaurant full of happy customers.
The menu is quite simply exciting. There are at least four entrees and mains that I cannot choose between, leading to quite a lengthy deliberation. Eventually Catherine is ready, but I am still not even close. Enter our waitperson to solve my ordering issues.
On the way to this assistance it would be remiss to not mention some comical errors from the floor prior to ordering. First the poor person about to serve the bread was literally pushed away because we had not yet ordered (it seems there is a rule here), next the person who pushed him away poured still water in our sparkling (we noticed half way but it was too late), and lastly Catherine got an explanation about there being no strawberries available for her cocktail – which she had not actually ordered or even enquired about. We are not stuffy diners and laughed it off, but in the same laugh, it is important for the top echelon of restaurants to get these things right because other diners are not so forgiving.
I had been pointed towards the Moreton Bay bugs for entrée and that is all I needed as a prompt. Our waitperson could not have recommended a better dish. Absolutely divinely grilled bugs, beautifully presented under ingredients that enhanced the deep but subtle flavour, and a roasted chilli paste that was even more decadent than the bug meat. Catherine too loved her slow roasted organic beetroot which was perfectly cooked, smacking of flavour and bettered with the accompanying ingredients.
The entrée, along with the dark rye and sourdough bread offered, led to high expectations for the rest of the evening. I had again taken the recommendation of our waitperson for main. The Victorian Murray Cod was indeed superb, but I couldn’t help but feel doing the seafood double left part of me a little empty. On the positive the fish was cooked beautifully and complimented by the ginger, melon and mushrooms. Similarly, Catherine’s Ocean Trout was also cooked perfectly. Presentation wise, the grilled rock kelp made a statement on the plate, and added a definitive Asian accent along with organic soy, roasted tea broth, and sesame.
At this stage it is worth mentioning how good the assistance on the wine matching was. In particular the elegant Chablis by Domaine Louis Moreau which we both enjoyed with our mains. While the wines by the glass are not cheap, they are not outrageous for this type of establishment.
Turning to dessert, we were hoping for the same excellence as entree. In between it was interesting to find no amuse offered to begin, and no palate cleansing or intriguing course offered to enter into dessert. I had my eye on four out of the five desserts. Guess which one our waitperson recommended! So I tried the black sesame whip and it was three out of three. It was actually a revelation in its creativity and deliciously executed technique. The puffed corn in particular didn’t just offer the requisite texture; it was one of the key elements on the plate. The whipped black sesame was mousse like, rich in flavour, and would be hard not to order on our next visit to The Bridge Room.
Equally Catherine loved her dessert. It was the best presented dish of the night, with perfect “glass biscuits” surrounding the other elements. The flavour of the passionfruit starred through the dish, with its various textures all marrying together in harmony, and with the nougatine adding further oomph. We had ordered peppermint tea, and an espresso, to have with our dessert, and they were up to scratch. However, given they didn’t come with any petit fours we thought $7 for a tea and $7 for an espresso was a bit rich. Our reasonably generous tip was reduced to compensate but really should have gone to the staff.
There are aspects lacking at The Bridge Room but those oversights are eclipsed by the beautiful food and genuinely helpful floorstaff. This is a restaurant that is working towards the top of its game. Some of the excitement is where it could be in months and years to come. One thing is for sure, on our next visit we will be sharing three desserts!