Bistro Mint: Minty French

Cafes, Eat, Restaurants, Sydney / 15 July 2014

Thanks to our rather short history and particularly long distance from Europe, heritage sites and French restaurants are merely scattered around our fair city. Bistro Mint has just opened at The Mint in Sydney, offering a modern interpretation of classic French cuisine within the CBD’s oldest building.

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Hay Baked Celeriac and Spicy Basque Boudin Noir with Apricot at the pass

After an extensive (and, I’m told, expensive) refurbishment that took into account all sensitivities of such a significant building, the kitchen and dining areas at The Mint are lighter and brighter. Guests are encouraged to take in the view from every angle – whether it be their food being finished-off at the pass or the sights of bustling Macquarie Street, flanked by Hyde Park to the south.
Although its food is unpretentious and contemporary, Bistro Mint takes its French fare seriously. To start, we shared a mix of rich little delights, including Crumbed Brie de Meaux, Hunter Valley Snails with Wasabi, Lemon and Garlic and Spicy Basque Boudin Noir with Apricot. To call the Brie “deep fried cheese” would be a complete understatement – I would call it “liquid gold with crispy, salty protection”. And if you are not a fan of snails, this is the place to either give them a go or try them again. Australian snails are smaller and far less slimier than their French counterparts, making them the perfect vehicle for indulgent flavours to our southern palates.
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Hunter Valley Snails with Wasabi, Lemon and Garlic

Scallop Meuniere with Jerusalem Artichoke, Fermented Black Beans and Sorrel and Beef Tartare “with a hint of the Basque Region” followed. Beef tartare is already one of my favourite dishes, so when Bistro Mint’s version came out with beef tendon crackers that were so fresh they were literally still crackling, I was completely won over… it was a sensory overload!
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Beef Tartare “with a hint of the Basque Region”

The Plats (or mains) were the stars of the day. Hay Baked Celeriac with Wild Rocket, Kale and Tamari Almond Vinaigrette was a vegetarian’s delight and Salt Steam Fish with Potato Gnocchi, Rapa and Beurre Blanc was a show in its own right, finishing its last two minutes of cooking and plating-up in front of our eyes.
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Salt Steam Fish with Potato Gnocchi, Rapa and Beurre Blanc ready to be finished-off in front of us

The third main on our table, Veal Tongue Grenobloise with Grilled Lemon and Caramelised Endive, was the largest of its kind that I have ever seen on a plate. But I appreciated the confidence with which it was served and so did not hesitate to tuck right in. I hope that many others will welcome this dish with the same open mind, because there are not many opportunities to really step out of your foodie comfort zone in the CBD and be rewarded in such a satisfying way.
Veal Tongue Grenobloise with Grilled Lemon and Caramelised Endive
Veal Tongue Grenobloise with Grilled Lemon and Caramelised Endive

Desserts included Rum Baba with Cardamom Chantilly (a fitting dessert for a venue that was initially financed with 45,000 gallons of rum!) and Fromage Blanc Mousse with Rhubarb, Fennel and Sorrel, a light dessert that undulates between sweet and savoury – dangerous for those who do not usually have a “sweet tooth” but feel like something a little more.
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Fromage Blanc Mousse with Rhubarb, Fennel and Sorrel

Bistro Mint is open from Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch from 8am to 4pm, as well as private events. If you are on the go, quick meals such as a croque madame with The Grounds of Alexandria coffee are also available.
Bistro Mint
The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
www.bistromint.com.au
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