The best place for a sunny Sydney day is by the water. Regatta in Rose Bay is helmed by legendary chef Damien Pignolet and chef Michael Morrison. They deliver French dishes as beautiful as the view.
Damien Pignolet is warm and engagingly candid. He's also a great storyteller, does Mr Bean impersonations and loves music and cars. And of course French food. You've probably heard of him in connection with Bistro Moncur or one of his other restaurants or one of his many cookbooks.
He is also the man responsible for the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award. It was started in honour of his late wife Josephine who passed away in a car accident in 1987. The prestigious award taps hot young chef talent and allows these chefs to travel overseas to learn more about food.
Regatta is perched on a wharf in Rose Bay at the former site of Pier. There is an outdoor deck with sunlamps for winter as well as the main dining room. The walkway has original wooden booths on the left while the rest of the restaurant feels like a catwalk with blue ombre fish scales on the ceiling. It also happens to the perfect place for a Sunday lunch or mother's day coming up.
Damien Pignolet (left) and Michael Morrison
I am having a weekday lunch with Brookie. The space really is better for day time especially as winter evenings cloak over the water early. We watch boats bob outside while contemplating the menu.
Crab omelette, sorrel sauce $35
You could pretty much order anything on the menu and be happy but I felt like seafood-the setting lends itself to this. The crab omelette is made with a generous amount of crab meat, a slightly melty centre and a cream sorrel sauce to lift the crab. It's sweet and comforting and one of those dishes you want to curl up with on a rainy day with big wooly socks (or is that just me?).
Steak tartare ‘Grainge’ fillet $29
Sometimes you just can't beat a good steak tartare. The steak is hand chopped and seasoned just before serving in measured doses so that it is perfectly balanced. It comes with crisp wonton skins cooked in a tortilla rack that give it a lovely crunch. It had just the right balance of flavours.
Confit duck with duck fat roasted potatoes, grilled radicchio and green peppercorn sauce $42.5
The mains arrive next. Confit duck is usually a very salty affair especially on the crispy skin which is also my favourite part. This one isn't though and it has got to be Sydney's best duck confit as it has a lovely melting texture and super crispy skin but without the heavy hand of salt. It is served with two batons of duck fat roasted potatoes, grilled radicchio and a green peppercorn sauce.
Catalan Style Tripe $36
Tripe is a temperature dependent," says Damien urging us to try the tripe quickly. Extra bread is requested to mop up this delicious slightly gelatinous tomato based sauce with chorizo, slow braised pork, peas and mint with crispy kipfler potatoes and rouille just to bring it all together. The tripe melts in the mouth and is bereft of any of the smell that can be found with tripe. Instead it's all soft textures.
Kristie's Lemon Meringue Tart $19
Kristie is the pastry chef and her lemon meringue tart is pretty as a picture. With a crisp pastry base, silky smooth lemon curd filling and ribbons of torched meringue it is also served with vanilla ice cream, raspberry stripes and an almond crumb.
Eve's Chocolate cake, shaved chocolate and raspberry coulis $19
Eve's chocolate cake was a recipe given to Damien by an Austrian friend Eve in 1972. Two thirds of the cake is a baked chocolate cake while one third is chilled and they use three different types of Valrhona chocolate for different degrees of bitterness and hardness. It is a cloud of chocolatey heaven.
Mango and creme chiboust mille feuille $19
But the dessert that totally stole my heart (and there were three so I was quite full) is the mille feuille. I love pastry especially crisp, caramelised pastry. The mango, lime zest and creme chiboust mille feuille was the perfect combination of creamy and crisp but with summery flavours and this was pure sunshine on what turned out to be a rainy day.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you tend to visit waterside restaurants during the day or night? Have you eaten at one of Damien's restaurants? And do you tend to order seafood when you're eating at a waterside restaurant?
NQN was a guest of Regatta but all opinions remain her own.
594 New South Head Rd, Rose Bay NSW 2029
Phone: (02) 9327 6561
Tuesday - Saturday 12pm - late
Sunday 12pm - 5pm