Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Duke Bistro - The Duke's Regale, Surry Hills

Duke's Bistro, often described as the hipsters hideout, is known as much for it's edgy fit out as it is for its eclectic and experimental creativity. Browsing through 2012's list of Crave Sydney dinners reveals a fair few promising dinners. Unfortunately, my meager budget leaves me very careful about the places I choose. If you're really interested in a dinner, here's my advice: the day the calender for October comes out, seize that opportunity to find the events you like and book them quick. A lot of the events get booked out in a couple of days and most after a fortnight if i'm not mistaken so the early bird really gets the worm.

I'll admit, I'm not exactly the most social person (I loathe the idea of any huge crowd setting) so being presented with the idea of communal tables was quite offsetting. However as the night went on and even initially, with unlimited free flowing booze and such interesting stories to be discovered, it's hard not to get into the mood. 

Yes I'm one of those wankers that attempts to drink for taste. That's not working out so well for me because I find all can taste is alcohol. Guess I'm not at that stage yet. Forgive me for the non-existent descriptors of the the matching wines for the night. The photos are terrible because I only started to discover my camera had a flash function. Yeah... Not going to deny it, i'm a big rookie.

Whilst the menu isn't very complicated, before every dish comes out, it is announced at the front and given astute detail.

Potato, Bone Marrow, Horseradish
We start off with canapes. The crisps are more chewy than crisp but bone marrow of course makes everything better. Note to self: those little brown things on the bottom are not edible.

Duck Liver, Pain D'epice
Duck parfait is next which come in the form of little balls of rich deliciousness and are incredibly yielding.

Deers Pudding, Pickled Onions, Malt
Layers of beer soaked onion provide an edible bowl full of rich pudding, liberally dusted with malt, and get the taste buds rolling.

Snails, Parsley, Pine
First time I've had snail before and they were cooked marvelously. Just as well because I hear if you're a couple of seconds over, they become rubbery bullets and no one likes that.

Potted Swine, Pickles, Bread
Our first main course is a pot full of pork shreds. It isn't so overwhelmingly rich that it merits the use of gherkins but as A exclaimed numerously: "gherkins make everything taste better". I'm not going to disagree. Finely pulsed crackle provides a nice textural counterpoint and makes it an overall a very nice dish.

Spring Vegetables, Quail Egg, Rye
I quite loath radishes in every form. I find their harshness quite overpowering and even these light ones didn't quite do it for me. Served cold, the rest of the well cooked vegetables created a very simple, fresh and elegant pathway into the slightly heavier dishes.

Broth of Artichoke and Preserved Truffle, Leaves and Cream
The light truffle flavour of the cream was definitely there and was literally quite finger licklingly scrumptious. The consomme that accompanied it was incredibly jam packed full of heady earthiness and went down very well after every bite of artichoke crisp. Admittedly it did have a smell reminiscent of some of the asian broths my mum would used to simmer up but the taste is so very different.

Grilled Bug Tail, Leek, Garlic, Riesling
I recall it originally being a marron tail, it became a grilled bug tail and was a worthy substitute. Wonderfully cooked, it came with beautifully light accompaniments of smoky and soft leeks and a heady garlic sauce. I quite disagree with the others, I found the individual elements satisfactory but together they were just gorgeous.

Squab aged in Bay Leaves and Hay, Broad Beans, Gamekeepers Tea
Perfectly cooked squab comes accompanied by a deep broth that had resulted from hours of simmering pigeon bones. It's a combination that works even better by taking a bite and washing it down with a sip of the shot glass.

Grapes in Ashes, Cheese and Lees
Our cheese course came with the unusual pairing of ash. A loathes anything ash but I found the flavour was only quite light and went well with the similarly mild cheese. The bizarre looking gel was had a very distilled boozy kick and I'm guessing that was the lees part.


Chocolate, Chicory, Smoked Prune
Dessert was a surprisingly light affair. Not too sweet with bags of flavour.

The Duke's Regale was based off what a duke would eat. It's a fascinating concept that I hoped wouldn't compromise on flavor and it didn't. The dishes were unusual to say the least and it seems like booze was very much a secondary theme of the night. Glasses were repeatedly refilled in a blink of an eye and every sort of protein seemed to be dressed, soaked, infused or mixed in some sort of alcohol. Going through many other blogs, it appears tonight's dinner was slightly more conservative then what they usually dish out with no form of molecular whizz-bangery in sight. Just very good clean flavours that work well.

Admittedly, looking around the internet, Duke's Bistro leaves many mixed. It does have it's legions of  local followers but at the same time it can be quite polarizing. Service, portion sizes, controversial combinations and pricing are amongst the few problems that I read a lot about. I, however, remain optimistic about it. Those aforementioned issues weren't in the slightest sense present that day and if the duke's regale is any indicator of what Duke Bistro is like on a normal day, I'll be surely back.

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oh wow that grilled bug tail looks incredible! and nah dont use flash in a restaurant cos itll disturb other people

@ suze. Yeah I know. It's not right of me to do so. I only realised that towards the middle and just stopped. Your photos always look brilliant regardless!

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No, we aren't the most amazing gastronomes or chefs. Heck, half our team doesn't even know how to cook... well. However, what we really love is eating. And lots of it. We enjoy that occasional freebie, filling up that craving for a midnight snack and finding a 20 in our pockets that we thought we never had, and using that as an excuse to go out eating. As we battle the ongoing war on uni student poverty, we'll bring you the most swoon worthy recounts of our latest foodie adventures.

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