Three Blue Ducks
Our competition winner Hayley Browne visits Three Blue Ducks
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When you live in Surry Hills, you seldom feel the need to drive in order to find great food. But on this cold winter night we made the effort to venture ever so slightly out of our comfort zone to Bronte, to try the Three Blue Ducks’ new dinner menu.
With a fantastic breakfast and lunch reputation already under its belt, TBD now boasts ex-Tetsuyas chefs Darren Robertson and Shannon Debreceny powering the new dinner service, which consists of 15 or so share dishes at a flat rate of $17.
We find the restaurant in an unassuming and quiet location along MacPherson Street. It’s now made up of two separate shop fronts – the original café and now also the neighbouring space, separated by a laneway. After a slightly frosty reception on entry to the original premises, we are pleased to be ushered into the second room with a tiki-style cocktail bar and assigned a friendly waiter.
Our order is taken and the well-versed staff take the time to explain each dish. We decide not to go with the chef’s banquet, because we are keen to choose our own dishes, but we still order the recommended minimum of four dishes each (in other words: eight to share).
For starters we select the oysters, the snapper cerviche and the calamari with smoked corn. We also order Iggy’s bread with Pepe Saya butter and rosemary salt at an additional $6, which turns out to be one of the best decisions of the night. Our expectations skyrocket.
The starters are all tasty, light and refreshing. The oysters, oddly, come in a serve of five, forcing you to compromise if sharing. The serve consists of one natural, two with soy and mirin and two with cucumber and wasabi granita. We agree the soy and mirin version is far superior to the other two, and would have liked the option to order them separately.
The delicate snapper cerviche conjures up mental images of a tropical paradise with flavours of lime, coconut and chilli. The calamari is just lightly cooked, and rests on a strong smoked corn puree. All dishes are small, but filled with flavour, and with a focus on great produce.
Next we welcome the slightly heartier “mushrooms and grains” where shiitake, swiss brown and shimeji mushrooms are fried with pearl barley, making for some lovely winter flavours. It’s a nice segue to the meat courses.
An up-side to the smaller portions at TBD is that we were able to order the duck, pork and wagyu between the two of us and not have people stare and point at us in horror. (It happens.)
The duck, rhubarb and licorice is not a combination of flavours we’re used to, but it works. The meat is moist and salty, skinless and lean.
The wagyu, bone marrow and kale is cooked perfectly and disappears quickly. We carefully halve the accompanying vegetables and sauces to experience the full combination of flavours.
However the pressed pork with greens is our favourite of the meat dishes. The single piece of pork belly is much less fatty than usual, yet is so tender it melts in our mouths and still retains that beautiful cracking on top. The Asian flavours in the broth are a wonderful match.
Throughout the meal we admire the careful food presentation. These dishes feel somewhat disconnected with the paper napkins, bar stools and wall art at Three Blue Ducks, but it’s part of the restaurant’s appeal.
For our final course we bypass the sweets, instead opting for the cheese and crackers. This interpretation of a cheese platter comes with Roquefort Papillon pears and figs, artfully arranged amongst grated parmesan and thin crackers.
The Roquefort is unbelievably creamy and tasty. My fiancé is less of a blue cheese fan and would have been happier with a second option of something a little milder. Again, the dish is very small and we find ourselves looking on curiously at the other pretty deserts circulating the room.
It’s true this place is not cheap and if you’re drinking you could rack up quite a bill. We are satisfied but not full, and certainly the extra course in the $80 version of the banquet would be comfortably achievable.
Having said that, it’s also quite refreshing to have sampled 8 different dishes and not feel tempted to unbutton anything.