Two stalwarts of the Sydney LGBT community, Steph Sands and Fran Bowron, won the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby 25th Anniversary auction prize for 2014.  This was a dinner for four at one of Sydney’s most highly praised restaurants, The Bridge Room, situated in Bridge St in Sydney CBD.  GLRL supporters Michael Kirby (ex-High Court Judge) and his partner of 45 years, Johan van Vloten came as part of the prize.  The dinner took place at the Bridge Room on the evening of May, 10 2014.  The participants have given the restaurant an excellent rating.  Here is their report:

AMBIENCE: The restaurant has a pleasing ambience. It is situated in the midst of grand colonial and high rise buildings in Sydney’s financial and professional centre.  It is convenient to bus and train services (Martin Place railway station).  The décor is modest.  In fact, the decoration is art deco chic.  It exudes an image of devotion to the culinary arts rather than grand elegance.  A team of highly praised chefs can be seen by diners at work in an impressive, modern kitchen.  Food guides have given it a very good rating.

STAFF: The principal chef and owner is Ross Lusted (ex-Rockpool). He has been awarded Chef of the Year by SMH Good Food Guide and Hottest Chef in Weekend Australian magazine.  The restaurant manager is handsome Martijn de Boer from the Netherlands.  Smart, dressed in a suit, and cheeky, he exchanged jokes in Dutch with Johan and runs a tight ship.  The waiters are many, efficient and friendly.  The efficiency is essential as this is a very busy restaurant: usually a sign that the food is good.

FOOD:  Michael took six rock oysters as an entrée served with white miso dressing and chives. Steph and Fran loved their Moreton Bay bugs served with sweet grilled endives and roasted chilli paste.  Johan, ever mindful of the figure, skipped the entrée.  Fran and Michael chose ocean trout for the main course.  Steph selected Rangers valley 6+ Wagyu rump and Johan picked poached chicken.  The Dutch creamed potatoes were a special.  Desserts included chocolate chestnut mousse for Steph; burnt caramel cream for Fran and a shared passionfruit ice cream concoction for Johan and Michael.

COST:  Not cheap.  Average entrée prices $35; mains $45 and desserts $18.

DRINKS:  A glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne opened the dinner on arrival.  This was followed by excellent Australian Chardonnays and Shiraz.

CRITIQUE:  The participants concurred that the food was exquisite, the service top rate and the atmosphere pleasing.  The only criticism was Johan’s belief that the chicken was underdone.  But Dutch people are forever complaining.  All participants agreed that they would return to the restaurant.  Michael (whose usual haunts are cheap eats) says he will have to start saving to cover the costs.  However, by Sydney CBD standards this was probably mid-top range.  The food distains gimmicks and concentrates on an interesting variety, using old fashioned quality produce.

ASSESSMENT:  Steph gave it five stars.  The overall consensus was 3.5 stars.  Highly recommended.

FINDING IT:  The Bridge Room, 44 Bridge St, Sydney. Call: (02) 9247 7000. Website:  It is open six days, closed Mondays. Its menu is inspired from Europe and Asia and is available online.  Bookings recommended.


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