Buzo in Woollahra has relaunched as Jersey Rd Bistro.
In a time where fried chicken, towering burgers and freak shakes seem to dominate our Instagram feed it’s refreshing to dine at a restaurant that’s keeping things simple. That’s not to say the food at Jersey Rd Bistro isn’t impressive but the produce is the hero at this Woollahra restaurant, not the hashtag.
You may have been to this venue in one of it’s previous existences. Keeping up with this venue is almost like understanding the who’s who of Days of Our Lives. For years Italian restaurant Buzo kept locals well fed with their cabbage, pine nut, raisin and pecorino salad. Then it became Pinbone restaurant, who amongst their dinner menu did a delicious Sunday brunch and have recently relocated to Kensington. Then in 2015 Mark Campbell and Phillip Fikkers from Macleay Street Bistro took over the space and resurrected the Buzo name. After a short stint and the return of the cabbage salad they closed and reopened in March of this year as Jersey Rd Bistro. Are you following the plot?
Now free to create his own menu without the pressure of the Buzo legacy, Head Chef Jason Dean (formerly of Bentley, Est. and London’s two Michelin-starred The Greenhouse) has gone down a modern Australian bistro path with some fun twists. Along with his Sous Chef Chris Cho, (formerly Oscillate Wildly) they have gradually evolved the food from its Italian roots to a modern bistro style menu, featuring Australian producers and ingredients and modern cooking techniques.
One of my favourite dishes at Jersey Rd Bistro is on their appetizers menu- the red cabbage crackers with parmesan custard ($8). (What is it with red cabbage and this establishment?) This time round red cabbage stock is dehydrated then deep fried to make a light, fluffy cracker with a similar texture to a Chinese prawn cracker. Add a dollop of the parmesan custard and a cocktail and you’re on to a winning start.
The changes to the venue itself since the rename are subtle but it does feel more relaxed. Upstairs in the main dining room the table cloths are gone and light wooden tables with dark wooden Bentwood chairs fill the room. It’s minimal and has a more masculine vibe which brings your focus to the star of the show, the food. The food and the music! It’s almost worth going to Jersey Rd Bistro for the old school tunes alone.
Dining at Jersey Rd Bistro is about the produce and flavour yes, but every mouthful is textually satisfying. From the crunch of the crispy kale served on top of the incredibly delicious cured wagyu tartare served with shiitake mushrooms and radish ($22); to the puffed quinoa served with the crispy skinned duck breast along with pumpkin and dates ($34). That crunch is even on the sides with the addition of hazelnuts to the green beans ($10) and the kale on the smoked potato puree ($10). Served with chicken jus the smoked potato puree could be a meal in itself it’s that good (though certainly not good for you).
For a lighter option try the scallop carpaccio with jalapeno, capsicum, saffron and orange ($24) for an entree; and the confit kingfish with black lentils, celery, sour cream and radish ($26) for main. If you’re in a sharing mood order the dry aged 700g beef ribeye for two. It comes cooked two ways, with your choice of a side (go the mash) for $90.
Leave room for dessert. The list is short but intriguing. There’s a rich chocolate and caramel dessert that catches my eye but I order the stone fruit with elderflower, lemon verbena and golden syrup ($14) while my companion keeps it classic with an affogato ($18). There’s a lot going on in the stone fruit dessert but it all marries well. Stone fruit is dehydrated and served with compressed nectarine, lemon verbena jelly, white peach sorbet, golden syrup mousse, white chocolate honeycomb crumble and freeze dried plums.
The Wine List features Australian, New Zealand, French, Italian, German, and Argentinean wine and ranges from $45 to $250 a bottle. This sets the tone for both a more casual mid-week dinner or a special occasion. The cocktail list features classics like Whiskey Sours, Manhattans and Negronis. And whilst almost everything is different to Buzo the Wednesday night BYO option still exists with a $14 per bottle corkage.
Jersey Rd Bistro is simply a great restaurant. No gimmicks, fads or trending dishes needed to seduce you in. It’s the kind of place you can go with friends, a date or take your older parents. We’ll be back for dinner but we’re really excited to check out their Sunday brunch menu. Running from 10am-3pm they have dishes including Fried duck egg, duck jerky, spiced quinoa, pumpkin, shallo; whole glazed ham hock, pickles, mustard, watercress and a mushroom omelette, asparagus, smoked; onion, parmesan. Not to mention Bloody Mary’s and some decent Champagne. There’s no red cabbage salad but we’re ok with that.