I’ve been to Sydney on business just about every month for the last two years and I’ve eaten at many great restaurants. This last weekend I flew my husband to Sydney for his birthday. With only three nights at hand I spent some time agonising over which restaurants to take him to. Three Blue Ducks in Bronte was my only given – and they didn’t let me down. Thank heavens. Because one hour before our reservation we took a peek at the menu online. Looking like he’d sucked a lemon, my rather conservative and very much steak-and-veg-loving husband implored “is THAT the menu?”.
Not that he won’t try something a little different – when I cook it. I’m not sure if that’s because he knows I’m sentient to his taste or if it’s just because the poor chap hasn’t got a choice, but in general when we go out his choice is steak, spuds and greens. Nonetheless, he stepped up to the challenge and the boys prevailed. Not really three blue ducks anymore, but five, these guys have created something together that is what I can only describe as understated brilliance.
Three Blue Ducks, in the heart of Bronte, is warm, welcoming and utterly unpretentious, but the atmosphere belies the excellence underpinning its success. It may present as more of a cafe, but with ex-Tetsuya head chef Darren Robertson in the mix with home-grown and locally sourced produce, you’re in for a treat. The fusion of characters and cuisines, from five surfers with varying histories to the strong influence of Morocco and Asia, makes for an interesting result.
Of course I’ve eaten here before, popping in once for a quick lunch and great coffee, but it was lovely to take the time to soak up the salty twilight with a glass of pinot noir and the waft of chargrill drifting across the room.
Did I mention the service is impeccable? Our pork and beef dumplings with ponzu (soy citrus dressing) arrived within minutes. Delicate silky dumplings with a slightly sweet, salty and sour dressing was the perfect entree.
The duck, cooked on the bone, served with chilli jam, greens and wild but delicate mushrooms was perfectly moist. The hero here though is the chilli jam. I could eat it with anything, on it’s own, by the jar or straight out of the pot … and now that I have the recipe, I intend to.
My husband, the fillet king, loved his flank steak – perfectly chargrilled, butter-soft and simply salted. Not partial to zucchini or squash, he devoured this almond and parmesan rendition – and I will not rest until I can make it myself (hint for your next recipe book chaps). My man would equally love me to recreate the mushrooms with pearl barley, macadamia bread sauce and labne he ordered on the side. Lucky for him this one is in “The Blue Ducks” recipe book and lucky for me I now have another carb to play with.
We sidestepped the smoked potato ice-cream (for reasons afore mentioned) and opted instead for the strawberries with yuzu curd, salted meringues and goat’s milk. Like everything else here, simple but exciting, crunchy and soft, sweet and salty, sour but delicate. The yuzu curd (yuzu being an East Asian sort of cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit) was knockout. Again – pot, jar, spoon.
I couldn’t be more pleased that from wary trepidation, this turned out to be one of my husband’s favourite food experiences. Proof that if you (or your partner) is a fussy eater you may well step over the precipice into a food wonderland and not be disappointed at Three Blue Ducks.
As for me, I’m off to make a Sunday-night Blue Duck “kick arse steak sandwich”.