Time Out says
Classically prepared food in luxurious city surrounds
How do we define the food of the moment? It’s a tough question, and one that we at Time Out are asking ourselves all the time. There are restaurants right now that are redrawing the borders of what food can be; be it the Instagram highs of animal shaped éclairs at Doux Amour, the anti-photogenic food at Automata, or even just the chilled-out fried cheese sambo at Bar Brosé, served with an amazing glass of natural wine.
The Bridge Room isn’t about any of these things. Nothing here is pushing any boundaries, or trying to shock you right out of your seat. Here the flavours are pure and the cooking refined (patron-chef Ross Lusted was once executive chef at Rockpool). It’s a comfortable, luxurious place to eat a meal in the city, and it feels like that’s what it’s trying to be, too.
You’ve probably walked past the place a thousand times, with it’s prime position on the corner of Bridge and Young Streets. But step inside and you’re hermetically sealed off from the hustle and bustle of the city streets. It’s designed with a Nordic feel; lots of pale wood and glass, and the crowd is a blend of suits and glamorous women.
You can do the six-course dego here if you’re after the full shebang, but we go for the three-courser for $55 less per head (if you’re sharing between two then you’re trying six dishes anyway, so why spend the extra moolah?). The first dish of Fraser Island spanner crab leaves us a bit cold – it’s picked and shelled and cooked well (not unctuous like Firedoor’s shellfish, or playful like Bennelong’s) but we find the celeriac cream overwhelms the flavour of the sweet meat, though we love the little rounds of fresh chestnut, which add satisfying crunch. We ask to have the somm pair glasses of wine with our dishes (manager Matthieu Rabiet doubles as the head sommelier, and he knows his grapes), and the mineral-rich Domaine de la Majone picpoul de pinet he selects for the crab is spot-on.
The next starter however, a play on steak tartare, wins dish of the day. Long swathes of wagyu beef are so rich and fatty that they – no hyperbole – actually melt in your mouth. They’re paired with charred, textural enoki mushrooms; crisped-up nori, upping the umami factor; pickled chillies to keep things sharp and a creamy, mayo-like duck egg emulsion.
Murray cod is cooked long and slow so that it’s impeccably tender, but the flavour, as a result, may have been compromised. The clams hiding underneath are a bit tough. They’re paired with a chinkiang black vinegar sauce that further overwhelms the delicate taste – it reminds us of those sweet, umami jus you used to get in the late 90s, and it doesn’t work here with the mild flavoured fish.
Tender beef cheek is wrapped in pickled Treviso radicchio with hop purée and served alongside aged rump cap that demands a much sharper knife than the one we’re given – the table is physically shaking as we try to cut into the meat. But the flavours are good. And the included sides of salty, buttery pomme purée and vinaigrette-dressed salad are excellent.
A crème brûlée has a retro rum’n’raisin vibe thanks to the inclusion of Pedro Ximénez and little raisins, with Packham pear slices adding refreshing respite from the rich cream. A heavy chocolate mousse comes with a light, whipped chestnut cream and crisp caramelised chocolate wafers, and will hit that chocolate spot no bother.
Service has that traditional, stiff approach that you either love or hate. One waiter seems visibly annoyed when we ask if the rye option of bread is sourdough. His response is one of horror and impatience, “No,” he says, “it’s rye.” (It’s rye sourdough, for the record.) Very much in the vein of Rockpool (now Eleven Bridge), the Bridge Room is a classic fancy restaurant. And it’s catering to a CBD audience who demand exactly that. Job done.