It's Thursday afternoon and we swing by the stylish CBD hotel for a quick lunch. We're headed for Bistro CBD, located on the first floor of this CBD hotel which is part of the Merivale empire. Bistro CBD has been awarded one chef's hat from the SMH for a few years running.
Simun Dragicevich is the man behind the stove, a friend of ours from my time at est. and we're actually popping in to say 'Hi' to him as well. Unfortunately (for us) he's back home in New Zealand for his birthday. We take a nice quiet seat in the corner and browse the menu. We remembered seeing something about set lunches on offer at CBD on the Merivale website (which I'm looking at now, and they are indeed offering the 'Fixed rate feast' of 3 courses for $40) but we don't see this anywhere on the menu and weren't verbally notified of any such thing, so just decide to go al a carte. I have trouble selecting my appetizer as there's a few things I like the sound of. I start with King salmon with spiced melon and ginger. There's 2 generous slices of salmon that are crusted with fresh herbs and resting on a nice avocado and lemon mix, with some spiced melon slices and fried ginger off to one side. I have trouble trying to work out what has been done to the salmon ... it didn't appear smoked, but was slightly cooked, perhaps sous vide. The flavors are all nice, it's just nothing exciting.
Kim chooses a classic, Jamón Serrano with Manchego, fresh figs, witlof and escarole. There's 3 slices of Manchego, a few slices of Jamon draped delicately, a black fig cut in 1/4's and a escarole and witlof salad. An extra slice of sourdough is in order, and I do manage to get a pick. All beautiful ingredients, and a classic combination.
With the trouble I had choosing which appetizer to order, and no main taking my fancy, course #2 for me is another appetizer. I settled on the seared scallops with cured duck breast, celeriac puree with fennel and watercress salad. I see a bit of Peter Doyle in the plating of this dish. The scallops were okay (I guess after now being spoilt with Hokkaido Diver scallops nothing really compares) the cured duck breast, celeriac puree and little salad were a nice combination though.
A big hunk of beef! That was what Kim was after. We both really miss just having a good steak. That's one thing we haven't got to indulge in since being in Japan. As wagyu is the standard breed of cattle, the beef is just so rich, that no one would sit down and eat more that 60 or 80g at one time. It's another classic, simple bistro pairing of grilled fillet of Angus beef with jerusalem artichokes, green shallots and red wine jus. I know it's lunch time, they're super busy and want to churn through the guests, but the steak wasn't even rested. We would have been more than happy to wait an extra 10 minutes while the meat was rested. With a combination this simple and classic, it needs to be executed perfectly, and it was not. To boot, the side order of fries that got sent to our table were horribly undercooked, so we sent them back. It was terribly disappointing to see that the bowl of fries, that was already seasoned with salt, was thrown back into the fryer for a few minutes before being returned to us. The result, a horribly oily, semi crisp shoestring chip. Eew.
With the way lunch was going, we didn't decide to stay for cheese and dessert, which we had full intentions of doing.
Simun's pressence was definately missed in the kitchen on this paticular visit, as his passion and enthusiasm shines through his food, usually elevating these classic bistro staples to something sublime.