[CLOSED] We’re torn about this joint. Is it a bar, or is it a restaurant? The food's so good, you wouldn't come in and not eat. But the drinks list is so strong and the vibe so chill that it feels like a bar. So, like 10 William Street, Monopole and the Paddington before it, we're calling it: Bar Brosé is both.
It’s the new joint from the ACME crew in the space formerly occupied by the Passage, which was owned by the ‘A’ and the ‘E’ of ACME, Andy Emerson and Ed Loveday. The kitchen has been taken over by co-owner, ex-ACME chef, and the winner of Best Hot Talent at our 2015 Food Awards, Analiese Gregory. And man, can this woman cook. Having previously worked as executive sous-chef at Quay (that’s one rank below Peter Gilmore), she’s also done stints at Mugaritz and Bras in Europe. She is the most exciting chef in Sydney right now. No wonder the ACME guys wanted to open a restaurant with her.
It’s a beautiful space. Designed by Luchetti Krelle (who also did ACME), there are three different rooms in which to dine, but it’s the back room that feels the most like a drinking haunt with a long, marble bar, light-rimmed mirrors (another reference to ACME) and a glass-walled private dining area at the back.
As you walk in, you might smell cheese – that will be the gougères. They are little comté-imbued choux pastry orbs that melt on your tongue like cheesy clouds, and they’re a must order. Try the weekly changing terrine. When we’re in it’s made from pig’s head and it blows our tiny little minds. They offer it to you seared or cold, but you’d be a fool to not get it warmed up – it relaxes and softens the meat, making eating it a truly unctuous experience. Served with sides of acidic pickles and sourdough, the meat is cut into big hunks that fall apart on the fork with tenderness, and it’s flecked with tarragon giving it faint aniseed tones that counteract its richness.
Tear off crisp-edged, creamy centred ‘leaves’ from the ‘Blooming Onion’ and dip them in creamy, fermented habanero-spiked soy and tofu emulsion. Or try a crisp, fried sandwich of sweet Christmas ham, spicy 'nduja, crème fraîche and melted comté cheese alongside a dry, tight 2014 Mount Edward ‘Clockwork’ skin contact wine (try the Hermit Ram Müller-Thurgau for something a little softer and more floral). And a note on that – with sommelier and former co-owner of Tasmania’s Garagistes, Katrina Birchmeier, running the wine here, the list is right on the money, with a strong focus on natural drops. Frederick Stevenson’s funky, super juicy 2015 ‘Dry Red’ pairs beautifully with crisped-up pillows of gnocchi tossed with slices of lap cheong sausage (channelling Gregory’s Chinese heritage), chilli and umami-rich kombu butter.
We’re not sold on the fig leaf custard with matcha, figs and camel milk granita for pudding (it’s more perfume than flavour) but the skinny sandwich of finely sliced potato crackers encasing silky brown butter mousse and slicks of salted caramel is everything we want in a dessert: sweet, creamy, crunchy and light.
Service is good, if sometimes a little rushed, and the crowd features all the bright young things you’d expect for a restaurant at this level of cool. Come in for a gougère and a glass of beautiful wine, or stay for the evening and eat your way through the menu. No matter how you treat it, you’d be hard pushed not to have a good time while you’re here.