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Chef Drew Bolton salutes the seasons with a modern menu at Barangaroo’s waterfront French brasserie
The first thing you’ll notice at Été is a display wall of dried flowers and produce that looks like it belongs to a farmhouse in deep Provence. Hanging from the wall’s timber frames are dried artichoke hearts, lavender quills and golden Billy Buttons – arranged just so, in shades that signal the start of autumn.
Chef Drew Bolton (ex-Vine in Double Bay) takes seasonality seriously in his Barangaroo outfit. The restaurant’s name – French for summer – is a nod to Bolton’s vision for the menu: bright, welcoming and liberated from the buttoned-up sensibility of classical French dining.
Opened in December 2017, the waterfront space has the vibe of a relaxed, natural light-drenched brasserie. Chicago-based artist John Zabawa’s work – including a full-wall mural – livens up the predominantly white, blond wood-heavy room.
On a buzzy weeknight, suits and stylish, tussled-haired women nurse their aperitifs to an easy-drinking score of Edith Piaf and light jazz. We’re ushered to a shared table, with full view of an open kitchen that’s framed by jars of last season’s pine mushrooms – picked and preserved by Bolton, we’re told, near his Blue Mountains family home.
Start with a bone-dry Dominique Portet Fontaine Rosé – a crisp Yarra Valley drop with a savoury palate that makes a good match with an entrée of veal tartare. Bolton modernises bistro classics with playful technical twists. For the tartare, he swaps the egg yolk for a herby, emulsified sauce gribiche, and adds umami with paper-thin sourdough croutons painted with anchovy butter. A quenelle of buttery foie gras rounds things out with a richness that complements the lean Torello Rosé Veal. We’re told to mix everything up, but it’s more fun to load the ganache-like foie on each forkful as you go.
Prawns with smoked bone marrow is proof that rendered animal fat can improve most things – even crustaceans. Finished in a woodfire oven, the applewood-smoked marrow adds a salty, unctuous paste to the sweet, translucent prawn flesh.
At intermission, choose a gutsy carafe of red from the French-driven wine list to pair with protein-heavy mains. We’re talking sticky pork rump with fermented apple and earthy black pudding, or a smoky octopus on a bed of saffron mash and inky aioli that comes alive in a Basquaise sauce — a tangy salsa of tomatoes and pimentos that adds freshness to the punchy flavours.
We opt for a flask of 2015 Clos la Coutale Malbec from South West France ($34), which has bold, black-fruit notes and a long finish. But equally good is a Second Take Barossa Shiraz, with plenty of crunch ($44/carafe) and is a natural fit with Bolt’s wet-aged Black Angus Côte de Boeuf.
Bolton’s perfectly charred rib-eye is served a rosy medium rare – if a touch cool from resting. But all is forgiven with the first taste of silky pommes purée: a butter-filled carbohydrate dream that ought to arrive like a bread basket with every meal. Keep up the buttery streak with a side of sweet roasted radishes in beurre noisette.
Your only challenge would be to save room for the assiette mignardise – a tasting platter for two of miniature desserts that jazz-hands its way to the table on an oversized wooden trolley. It’s a spectacular highlights reel of everything from a custardy, vanilla bean-dotted crème brûlée to tiny strawberry eclairs and a meringue-coated dulce de leche ‘cake pop’ – a ball of frozen dulce de leche parfait on a lollypop stick, coated in chocolate. Our pick of the treats is the cold chocolate fondant, its molten centre swapped for a scoop of rich coco sorbet for the warmer months.
Été does a good job nailing the gap between bistro and fine diner. With Bolton’s taste for both the technical and playful, it’s the kind of place that would fit right in with the new guard of bistronomy in Paris – if only they had the restaurant’s waterside views and sunny vibes to match.
T1.03 Tower 1, Barangaroo Ave
|Opening hours:||Daily noon-3pm; 6-11pm|