Bistro Ortolan, Leichhardt

7 February 2011
by Phuoc

Ant and I celebrated our anniversary a little while ago at Bistro Ortolan; a 2-hatted French restaurant located in the little Italian suburb of Leichhardt. We decided to go for the degustation because at $120, a 9 course meal from a hatted restaurant is a steal in my eyes.

We started the night off with an amuse bouche of iced tomato essence with baby herbs and Merimbula rock oyster. The tomato essence was light and refreshing, it was like drinking the juice of a ripe tomato minus the flesh and seeds. We were a little saddened by the fact that we only got one oyster each as we could have devoured a lot more of these babies. It was quite funny for us to be served Merimbula rock oysters as we were actually at Merimbula a while ago and had them freshly shucked from the oyster farm there. These oysters were exactly what we remembered, plump and briny; fresh from the waters.

The first light course to start of this degustation was the ceviche of citrus cured ocean trout and baby octopus with fresh Tasmanian wasabi. Not very French as this was served in a DIY san choy bau style; we were instructed to mix the cream into the pile of ocean trout alongside the various condiments scattered around the plate and to pile this mixture on either the croutons or pieces of baby lettuce. This was not what I had pictured the ceviche to be; I thought there was going to be a citrus element rather than a creamy component. However it was still delicious regardless, the ocean trout was amazingly fresh and went well with the lightly oiled and crispy croutons.

The tartlet of Victorian smoked eel and kipfler potato comes with a petite salad nicoise and is topped with a softly cooked quail egg. The tart was buttery and crumbly with a hint of smokiness from the eel and when pierced, the yolk oozed out from the perfectly poached egg. I forgot what the green stalk-like thing are called (if anyone knows, please let me know) but it’s apparently a close relative to asparagus yet slightly salty and crunchy; it added an interesting texture and flavour to the salad.

The dish of crepinette of pink snapper with seared Hervey Bay scallops and baby greens was topped with foie gras butter at our table. As pleasant as this may not sound, the pink snapper was encased with a casing similar to those used to make sausages, retaining the juices of the snapper as it cooks. The greens were crisp and was wonderful with the foie gras butter and the scallops were seared to perfection.

Roasted loin and braised trotter of Melanda Park pork with spring vegetables and artichoke veloute was a fantastic dish to showcase this wondrous animal. The meat was shredded off the braised trotter, rolled to form a ball and wrapped with casing; this component was comforting with the creamy and rich artichoke veloute. The loin was tender and simply divine with the jus and you can’t see it in the picture above but a small sliver of pork crackling also featured in this dish; although small in size, one bite into it yielded a loud ear-shattering crunch which made me extremely happy and wanting more.  I loved how the vegetables were neatly arranged on the plate.

At this point we were feeling quite full, you can trust the French to fill you up with their buttery pastries and rich sauces. The very last savoury dish on the menu before we headed for the cheese course was a dish of rare, spiced-roasted sirlon of Cervena venison which is served with a fricassee of glazed vegetables, foie gras and game pie. The game pie features a melange of animals including venison, squab (pigeon), quail and duck; and although I couldn’t taste every single animal in the buttery pie, it was rich and heavy. Still juicy with blood, the venison was so tender it literally melted in the mouth. The parsnip chips provided a nice textual contrast to the dish.

I’m not a fan of funky cheeses. I do not understand how people could love smelly cheese. A plate of Roquefort “Le Vieux Berger” cheese was brought out to us with fresh honeycomb and walnut toast. Ant has never had blue cheese before so he decided to give it a go whilst I embraced myself and had a tiny bit, next moment he screws up his face and declares he can’t have any more. I had tiny bits of the cheese with alot of the honey and toast; both components toned down the strong flavour to some extent but in the end, it’s still blue cheese. I can not say much about the cheese as I couldn’t appreciate it completely. The waiter who took away our plate was really surprised and possibly saddened that we didn’t finish off the cheese. I wonder if next time it would have been possible to ask for another dessert course in exchange for a cheese dish.

The pre-dessert was a stonefruit salad with plum and lemon balm sorbets. Now we’re talking… Peaches and nectarines make up the salad; these fruits were quite firm and juicy as well. The sorbets provide a lovely cleanser after all the rich dishes we consumed and they were so refreshing. This dessert has Summer written all over it.

The sight of the roasted banana bombe alaska with walnut dacquoise and salted caramel had my mouth watering; the dessert also featured fresh blueberries, caramel jellies and a vanilla bean creme anglaise. Every component of this dish complimented one another perfectly. The salted caramel sauce was poured at our table and I was tempted to ask the waiter to leave the little jug with me. With slightly burnt undertones and a slight hint of saltiness from the caramel sauce, pairing this sauce with the toasted flavours of the banana icecream in the bombe alaska made this dessert simply irresistible and indulgent. For those who may be interested, here’s a picture of the innards.

We ended the night with coffee and some petit fours. I was expecting the white chocolate and cardamon truffle to be a bit odd because I’ve had a dessert featuring cardamon in it and it wasn’t pleasant, however I couldn’t really taste the cardamon in these truffles (which was a good thing) and the white chocolate wasn’t sickeningly sweet. Ant has a thing for passionfruit, he absolutely loves it, so when the passionfruit pate de fruit came out I knew he’d be happy. Gummy in texture, these definitely packed a punch with the passionfruit flavour.

Service was friendly and helpful here at Bistro Ortolan and the degustation was definitely value for money in my opinion.

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  1. chocolatesuze

    happy anniversary dudes! that bomb alaska looks freaking awesome

  2. Helen (grabyourfork)

    I love the plating of the roasted loin, and keep going with the blue cheese. It is awesome when you get a taste for it. Roquefort is divine! And happy belated anniversary!

  3. joey@FoodiePop

    What a great anniversary dinner! I really liked the food here some time ago but was told not to take photos of the food. I guess that’s changed.

  4. mademoiselle délicieuse

    Happy anniversary! The food looks beautifully cooked and presented as well as being quite generous. I’m clutching my stomach just looking at your photos, but not enough to stop me from wanting to eat there myself…

    But blue cheese doesn’t do it for me either, and I’ve been continually trying for 10 years!

  5. Jenny

    happy anniversary phuoc!!
    ps. i loooooove cheese! there are good blue cheeses out there!! (usually the more expensive ones though) i’ll get some for us someday hahah

  6. Richard Elliot

    Looks like you had some great food to celebrate your anniversay.

    It’s very French to have a cheese course before dessert and Roquefort is known as the king of cheeses in France. No wonder that your waiter was upset you didn’t eat! 😉

  7. Monica

    Happy anniversay Phuoc 🙂 I’m actually going there next Wednesday, shall remember to ask whether I can swop the cheese course with something else ( not a fan of funky cheeses either :P).
    The asparagus look-a-like vegetable, I think they are sea asparagus – saw them selling at Broadway’s Harris Farm on the weekends.

  8. MelbaToast

    I’m a totally wracking my brain for a reason that we can go to Bistro Ortolan asap. I’d only heard of it for the first time last week (I’m slow, I know) and now your post, with these great photos, has my wanting to go asap! It sounds lovely and looks like amazing value for money…esp for a two hatted restaurant.

    Happy Anniversary to you guys!

  9. Ellie (Almost Bourdain)

    Heard too many good reviews about Bistro Ortolan. Time to make a booking…….

  10. john@heneedsfood

    The stinkier the cheese, the better it is. For me, anyway. Love the stuff!
    Happy Anniversary!

  11. Tina@foodboozeshoes

    Seriously drool-worthy!

  12. Judy

    OMG, I absolutely love Blue Cheese and can have it with almost everything. I have even been known to request it on burgers and made as a dip for my salads. I routinely eat whole wheels of the stuff.
    Love your review. A picture tells a thousand words and I have lived the meal vicariously through your post. Yum.

  13. Jasmin

    Hi! The green stalky veg is called samphire also known as sea asparagus. It’s grown in the salt flat areas of Australia.
    Bistro Ortolan looks great, I agree with you on blue cheese, I’m however trying to ease myself into it with blue brie and copious amounts of plum paste. 😉

  14. foodie and the chef

    Wow, beautiful photos! I ate here 6 months ago with a group of hatted chefs – we couldn’t fault it, just lovely food.

  15. Gianna@TheEmptyFridge

    hee hee im always so amused by your aversion to blue cheese 🙂 It’s not a favorite of mine but will happily attack it on a cheese plate.

    what a delicious meal to celebrate your anniversary, I’d love to go there soon!

  16. Anita

    Yum! Yep that’s definately a FDB! (fair dinkum bargain) Happy anniversary. What a great choice. Your photos are beautiful too. did you get any pics of the inside of the bombe alaska?

  17. OohLookBel

    Oh yes, I can definitely see a meal for me here very soon! Great photos of a great meal.

  18. Sara @ Belly Rumbles

    Foie gras butter, delicious, served at the table, now that is cool.

  19. nic@diningwithastud

    Love love LOVE the pork plate!! It looks so delish and very impressive. Happy anniversary 🙂

  20. thang@noodlies

    happy anniversary Phuoc!

    The venison looks to die for!

  21. Phuoc

    Chocolatesuze: It was awesome indeed

    Helen: I know who to palm my blue cheese to next time.. 😛 I tried but can’t do it! It’s to funky!

    Joey: Oh that’s good to hear that they have opened up to people taking pictures now; I always ask before I taking pictures. Also glad to hear that you also enjoyed it here, food is very generous.

    Mademoiselle délicieuse: Very generous indeed, we were so full! You think after that long you would stop trying right? 😛

    Jenny: I don’t mnd cheese, I just don’t like the funky smelly ones that’s all.. If you bring it, you know I won’t be having it. Ewww… lol

    Richard: I’ll skip on having blue cheese, it’s just not for me.

    Monica: I hope you enjoy your dinner. Yes they are actually sea asparagus, thanks for the heads up!

    MelbaToast: I hope you do find that excuse soon enough, try to go when truffle season is in because apparently they serve this magnificent pappardelle dish with truffles and egg.

    Ellie: I hope you get to venture out soon..

    John: Another person I can palm my blue cheese to.. 😀

    Tina: Cool, it was but sooooo filling!

    Judy: OMG you are a fan of it aren’t you! WOW!! Thanks for your kind comments.

    Jasmin: Thanks for the name drop, I’m starting to see it making a feature in restaurants now. I love brie so I guess blue brie is a baby step towards blue cheese right?

    Foodie and the chef: Good to know that you and the group of hatted chefs enjoyed your meal here as well.

    Gianna: I’m just amused by people loving something that smells funky.. Don’t get me wrong, I love durian, but blue cheese is a whole different story.

    Anita: Thanks! I just updated the post with a pic of the innards.

    Bel: Cool, let me know what you thought of it.

    Sara: It seems that for some dishes, the final touches were made at the table.

    Nic: Pork.. Such a magical animal it is 🙂

    Thang: Oh it was so tender and rich (just how I like my men… hahaha Just kidding!!)

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