Sunday, 4 December 2011

Restaurant Review: Bistro Avoca, Randwick

Thanks to Charlotte Foot PR and Bistro Avoca for inviting me to their bloggers dinner on Tuesday night.

With the Randwick locals flocking to the bistro midweek, there wasn't a free table in the front room of the restaurant when I arrived. With crisp white linen and a subdued interior, it stands out from Randwick's strip of cheap ethnic eats.

The menu is modern Australian with a few Thai dishes scattered in for good measure. Not your generic Australian-Thai, but some authentic punchy flavours reminiscent of my visit to Sailors Thai. The Mod Oz dishes were good too, with my scallops perfectly cooked and the vegetables nicely al dente. I would be interested to know where the chef learnt his diverse skills from.

Avoca is a place that you need to visit hungry as the serving sizes are very generous. The starters could pass off as main courses in other restaurants and you will never have seen a pannacotta so huge!

The food was all attractively presented with lots of technique being demonstrated on every plate. My only criticism is that a couple of the dishes would have benefited from more seasoning to bring out their flavour. The under seasoning seemed an odd omission when virtually every other detail had been attended to so perfectly.

The Thai oyster shots with fresh herbs, ginger, garlic, chilli, lemongrass & nam jim was my favourite dish of the evening. A heady smell of fish sauce, crunch from the lemongrass and salty oyster to finish. A bit too big to knock back in one go the shots came served with mini forks. A truly inventive dish.

The Seared sea scallops, cauliflower puree, bacon crumble and pesto oil looked devine. The scallops were perfectly cooked. However, I couldn't help feeling a little underwhelmed by the dish. I wanted more flavour. The cauliflower puree would have been enhanced by more seasoning, a stronger pesto oil and a coarser bacon crumb to provide a more textural element.

My main course was the Black Angus steak, Irish colcannon, asparagus, sugar snap peas and red wine jus. The steak was perfectly cooked to medium rare and the sugar snap peas were nicely al dente. It might not come across in the photo, but the serving was very generous and the steak enormous. I would have appreciated it if the steak had been more strongly seasoned and the jus was a bit richer.

The humble rocket, pear and parmesan salad was a triumph. There were generous amounts of pear and parmesan folded all the way through the rocket so that you got a bit of everything in each mouthful. I'd definitely order it again.

The table went dessert crazy. From the specials board I chose the Sticky toffee pudding, stuffed dates, butterscotch sauce and ice cream. I enjoyed the pistachio stuffed dates and the pudding. The butterscotch sauce was too rich for me.

Simon ordered the affogato which he described as coming "with a decent amount of ice cream". An understatement in my book! I haven't seen a 'mix your own' affogato before, but I think that is how they all should be. The ice cream is often melted by the time it arrives at the table in my experience.

The coconut pannacotta, lime jelly and fresh mango, coconut biscotti was an opinion divider. Laura wasn't a fan, while Charlotte and I both really liked it. I had a couple of mouthfuls managing to get a bit of the toasted coconut, fresh mango, jelly and pannacotta in each one and thought it worked really well. Particularly the toasted coconut. I tasted more green apple than lime in the jelly, but won't be holding that against it!

When I looked at my watch at the end of the night I was surprised to see we'd been seated for an enjoyable and relaxing three hours. We don't seem to have many bistro style restaurants in Sydney. I think the French would be impressed by this Australian interpretation of le bistro. Good food, good value and a relaxing and unhurried atmosphere. I just wish they'd season like the French too!

Bistro Avoca
133 Avoca St
Randwick, 2031

Bistro Avoca on Urbanspoon


  1. Food looks awesome but a bit too "international" for my taste... I like menus that have a stronger identity. Biggest affogato ever!

  2. hi richard, i nice recap of the night. i thinking a more robust flavoured crispy bacon crumble for the Seared sea scallops would probably work very well. in terms of the affogato i've had them presented many times as a make your own. generally in the more nicer dining restaurants and especially if you're having with alcohol. it all helps to keep the coffee hot and ice cream cold as long as possible before mixing.

  3. @LateralEating - the menu was definitely Modern Australian with four or five Thai inspired dishes. I didn't think it was too 'international'. Not like a pan-Asian restaurant!

    @Simon - I'll defer to your wisdom on the affogato! ;-)

  4. The panna cotta looks so pretty. Even though the food sounds fairly pedestrian, I like seeing colcannon on the menu and always enjoy a plump scallop or two. Or three. :-)

  5. Damn, now why aren't all affagato's served like that indeed!?
    Haven't been here since it switched from being Balzac.

    1. Never was Balzac, you thinking wrong end of town, most recently Elysium

  6. @Joey - I think it is a little bit unfair to call the food pedestrian. Most of it was very good and the dishes that disapppointed slightly only needed a good season. If it wasn't for that I think Avoca would be on my 'top eats' list.

    CHFG - Balzac is just down the road. I haven't been to there either! ;-)