Modern French shines all year round at Été restaurant, not just during summer.
Barangaroo has it all, covering a global spectrum of cuisines. Weave your way through the buzzing streets and you’ll eat your way through New Orleans, Hong Kong, Spain and beyond. Can you find a French restaurant? Absolutely and boy, is it’s good one. Été, meaning summer in French, came to the game a little later than expected, with the project put on hold for five months. Quite fortuitously they experienced their first week of trade in early December.
From the outside, Été could be a multitude of things, its sleek neutral tones and minimalist interior not giving much away. Is it a casual bistro? Or fine dining? As it turns out, Été is a little bit of both. Dried flowers offer pops of French vintage chic, with a striking wall mural quickly catching your attention. A modest scattering of blonde tables and chairs evokes a generously sized space, giving diners plenty of room to ease into a into a long and leisurely meal.
As for the menu, Ete chef and co-owner, Drew Bolton (ex-Vine, Double Bay) believes strongly in the seasonality of ingredients. The menu is far from static, breathing new life into some of the French classics.
Sure, you’ll find chicken liver parfait ($16), but here it’s wonderfully light and airy, a side serving of cornichons revitalising the palate. On the starters menu, you can opt to take things up a notch with caviar ($80) accompanied by blinis and creme fraiche. Teamed with one of three varieties of Perriet-Jouët Champagne available by the glass, how can you go wrong?
As for entrées, again Bolton can be found injecting some modern techniques into classically French cuisine. The veal tartare is a standout. Made using ethically reared rorello rosé veal, the tenderness of the veal means it melts on the tongue. Laced with sauce gribiche (a French mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce) and an accompanying mound of foie gras, this is a dish you won’t quickly forget.
As for seafood, the prawns ($29) are equally worthy of a mention. Here you’ll quickly find two generously sized crustaceans with a myriad of complex flavours at work. The addition of smoked bone marrow offers intense depth of flavour, offset by the welcomed acidity of both tomato and apple vinegar.
If you ask one of the waitstaff what is popular when it comes to mains, chances are they’ll recommend the octopus ($33). Arriving to the table, it carries a visual finesse. Generous pieces of octopus, albeit a little overdone, work well with silky smooth saffron mash and aioli. The sauce basquaise works to accentuate the flavours of the seafood, resulting in an almost perfect dish.
Unlike the gnocchi of Italy, at Été this crowd pleaser is made using pâte à choux—the same dough used for profiteroles, cream puffs and éclairs. You won’t be disappointed with the Parisienne mode, the same light fluffiness carrying through. Teamed with charred corn, ribbons of zucchini and a scattering of hazelnuts, the flavours here are interesting, modern and simultaneously comforting.
As for the wine list, as you can imagine it’s predominately French. Your chicken liver parfait works well with a glass of Marie Christine by Chateau de L’Aumer Ade Rosé (glass $18.5), notes of rose and strawberry contrasting the rich essence of the livers. Don’t be afraid to order a locally sourced drop, the Steingarten Riesling from Eden Valley ($14.5) marrying well to punchy seafood dishes.
The French believe that there is always room for dessert. In this case, you’ll want to make sure of it. Order the crème brûlée and indulge in the sacred act of cracking your spoon into the burnt sugar lid. The creaminess of the custard is delicately offset by lemon balm and a scoop of peach gelato resting atop a biscuit crumb. Simply divine.
Ete is clever in the way that it teeters between classically French and modern. Its unpretentious fit out means that you can opt for Bolton’s ever-changing plat du jour for under 50 dollars or alternatively indulge in a long and decadent dinner. Été may lend itself to the summer months, but here, modern French shines all year round.
For more information, you can check out the website here
T1.03 Tower 1, Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo 2000
(02) 9052 5383
Open daily 12pm-3pm; 6pm-late.