Last Friday was our first anniversary in Australia, the perfect excuse to celebrate with a special dinner. My first thought was to eat something Australian but I didn’t want meat pie, bangers and mash, nor fish and chips. Modern Australian (known in my country simply as “fusion”) seemed to be the right choice. When looking for plalces I read some reviews of European restaurants and suddenly my hunt shifted from Mod Oz to French. Dunno how or why, it just happened. As usual, I had several choices, similarly rated and priced, and couldn’t decide on one. Finally I picked Restaurant Atelier in Glebe and booked for an early dinner at 6 pm.
We got there a few minutes past 6. The restaurant was empty, we waited a few seconds until the restaurant hostess showed up (my guess is that she was in the toilet) and showed us our table. Green olives and coarse salt were placed on the table. The attentive maitre d’ (or was he the sommelier?) came shortly afterward carrying a bowl with French black truffles. First he described the day’s specials in his deep, newsreader voice: two entrées (one cold, one hot) and two mains, all of them featuring pork. He also announced the arrival of the truffles and the possibility of getting 4 grams of shaved goodness on any dish for only $15 (we passed).
We were left with the menus trying to remember all the specials details (and thinking that it would be nice to have the descriptions printed out). Because we usually don’t need much food to reach fullness (it doesn’t mean we don’t eat a lot… we just eat beyond our capacity), I suggested getting one of the three bread options, one entrée, a main for each and, depending on how we felt, a dessert for each. We decided not to drink wine with the food (we could have brought a bottle since they are BYO) because we were having drinks afterward, but we did drink aperitifs: Peach Bellinis for Gladys and Alvaro and a Champagne a l’Orange for me.
I chose the shared plates: the Rare Breed “Berkshire Black” Pork Rillette w Lavosh & Pickles and the West Australian Marron Tail, Foie Gras Mousse, Fresh Pea Salad & Pea & Ham Ice Cream. For mains, Gladys had the confit pork special (I don’t remember the whole description, but it had confit echalotes and crispy pork skin), Alvaro ordered the Cocoa-Roasted Striploin of New Zealand Venison, Confit Carrot Puree, Baby Turnips & a Liquorice-Infused Sauce and I ordered the Roasted Boned & Rolled Macleay Valley White Rabbit, Braised French Snails, Baby Gem Lettuce & Parsnip Puree.
Drinks came first, we raised our glasses for a toast and started enjoying them. Then arrived the rillete (similar to a pâté in texture, but made with pork), which was delicious, and perfectly complemented by the crisp lavosh biscuits and pickled mini veggies. At this point I must apologise for the bad quality of the pictures. It was a fancy, dark and empty restaurant, so I didn’t feel like turning on the flash or taking more time for getting better shots.
After finishing the maitre d’ brought a complimentary dish for each of us, a fish cake ball with avocado cream and aioli, super tasty.
Then then entrée arrived. The portion was small, so I had a hard time dividing each component in three pieces. The marron tail and the fresh pea salad were nice, but the foie gras mousse and the pea & ham ice cream were outstanding. I wished I had a full portion for myself, but I wouldn’t have had room for all the food.
Then the mains arrived. Gladys’ dish had a side of something wrapped in cabbage leaves (petit something) that was as good as the confit pork and crispy skin.
My plate had three round slices of rabbit ballotine, plus three snails, the baby gem lettuce and parsnip puree (it was actually foam). I enjoyed my main, though it didn’t blew my mind (or taste buds).
Alvaro’s dish arrived with two battered and fried leafs of lettuce resembling wings. It was good, but we all agreed that Gladys’ dish was the tastiest (and biggest).
We weren’t ready for dessert yet so we waited for a while. We didn’t have to ask for the dessert menu, the maitre d’ brought it to us announcing that the chef’s special was the Pear & Caramel Souffle w Milk Chocolate & Chicory Ice Cream & a Poire William Milkshake. I suggested getting a cheese board but Gladys and Alvaro preferred the chef’s special. I chose the Fig Leaf & Vanilla-Infused Pannacotta w a Fresh Fig Ice Cream & Sherry Reduction.
We received another complimentary course, brought by the chef to the table: a poppy (the flower) kind of custard topped with those lollies that pop in your mouth and ice cream, served in an egg cup. It was an interesting experience that reminded us of our childhood. Then dessert arrived, also from the hands of the chef. He explained to Gladys and Alvaro that the souffle ramekin was super hot and that the idea was to open a hole in the middle of the souffle and pour half of the pear milkshake in it before eating, then drink the rest of the milkshake through the chocolate straw and don’t forget to eat the straw afterward. I tasted the souffle, it was really good, with a nice texture and not too sweet, and the milk chocolate & chicory ice cream was delicious.
My panacotta was good too, but for me the souffle was tastier. Maybe I shouldn’t have ordered an Italian dessert in a French restaurant?
We were offered coffee or tea but declined because at that point we were officially full. Overall I think it is a great restaurant, even when I didn’t feel like all dishes were equally tasty. I would love to go back and try the degustation menu with matching wines, I’ve read that is one of the best in Sydney.
I took care of the bill (it was my anniversary, after all):
2 Peach Bellini $24.00
1 Champagne Orange $12.00
1 Rillete $ 10.00
1 Marron $26.00
1 Pork $34.00
1 Venison $34.00
1 Rabbit $32.00
2 Souffle $30.00
1 Figs $30.00
Then we walked all the way down home (3 kilometers, according to Google Maps), left my backpack with the laptop there and headed out to Erskineville Road for drinks. We checked the Erskineville Hotel but we didn’t like the vibe, so we went to the Hive Bar (my personal favourite in that area) but it was really loud, not only because of the music, but because of a high-pitched fat lady. Gladys and I drank a beer each (Alvaro had a juice) and then went to The Rose of Australia, where we had another beer each. Then we walked back to King Street, checked the Union bar but didn’t like the vibe, walked to the Courthouse Hotel on Australia Street, but it was closing. We went back to “our side” of King Street and ended up in the Sando (Sandringham hotel) drinking one more beer each. Alvaro and I wanted something to nibble on, but the kitchen was closed so we bought a bag of chips from the machine and then real chips in the sandwich bar next door. We hadn’t realised that it was really late and didn’t make it to St Peters station on time for Gladys to catch her train, so she stayed in our place.
22 Glebe Point Road Glebe NSW Australia 2037
61 2 9566 2112