Monday, 13 February 2012

Three Blue Ducks in Bronte: a foodies' paradise

OK, it is in Bronte, but that’s only a couple of suburbs over from Bondi, so after reading this review in the Sydney Morning Herald of Three Blue Ducks by Terry Durack I jumped online to book. 

Three Blue Ducks first gained a reputation for its breakfast menu and was awarded the Best Breakfast in Sydney in the Good Café Guide. Late last year is started opening for dinner Thursday-Saturday and this is where it gets tricky to get a look-in. The first available booking was three weeks out and we had to be there at kiddies’ hour of 6:15, and out by the time the adults arrived at 8.30pm to take their seats at the big table.

I took it. Lucky I did, as it was the only table available for another month. 

Now, in case you think I’m a slavish follower of restaurant reviews, the clincher in Durack’s review was thus: “I might as well say it up front: for three nights a week, you can eat as well in this cool little cafe as anywhere in Sydney. For $17 a course, for food cooked by former chefs from Tetsuya's. I think I now have your attention.”

He certainly had my attention. The café is on the main drag on Macpherson Street, a short stroll to the beach so no views (except of the main road and the bus stop sign). It looks like a rather funky café rather than a bastion of fine dining and this is part of the appeal:  murals line the walls, the tables are wooden, the waiters are dressed in shorts and t’shirts. 

This could be because the founders are local surfers, Sam and Chris. It was while he was running a hostel for surfers in Morocco that Chris met Mark, who had trained at Tetsuya’s and they decided to come home and start a business together.

The produce is sourced from local suppliers from in and around Sydney where possible, to help reduce the impact of transport. And organic produce is preferred: the bread comes from Iggy’s, which is four doors down the street. 

There are 15 dishes to choose from, each dish costing $17. The menu starts with oysters and ends with cheese and crackers.

kingfish ceviche
calamari and smoked corn
pot of pork and pickled veg
lobster and soft polenta
mushrooms and grains
mussels, clams and beach spinach
egg, blood cake, apples and beets
mackeral, tomato and eggplant
carrots, pumpkin and nettles
pressed pork shoulder
beef, burnt onion and mustard seeds
strawberries, sea salt meringue and passionfruit
chocolate and fennel
cheese and crackers

We chose seven dishes, which came out two at a time, with the exception of the egg, blood cake, apples and beets, which Bondi Curmudgeon had for his dessert. We started with the calamari and the pot of pork with pickled vegetables, which came out as a terrine on soft, crusty bread.

The mussels, clams and beach spinach make no mention of the amazing coconut sprinkled on top and the coconut sauce – this was the standout dish for me. Apparently it is a family recipe handed down and adapted. The mushrooms and grains and the mackerel, tomato and eggplant rounded out the meal. This with a bottle of wine, a glass of dessert wine (and maybe a couple more glasses of wine) took the bill to $200.

Quite a lot for a café, but reasonable for what we had and we left raving about the flavours, the freshness of the food and the subtle experimentation.

It’s definitely worth getting in line but and waiting your turn. 

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