Looking for a romantic date night or a dinner with a view with family or friends? Head to Chowder Bay for L'Heritage, a French bistro restaurant housed in a historic building. What is the food and atmosphere like and which table has the best view for a romantic dinner?
It's a Friday night and Mr NQN and I are driving through Mosman towards Chowder Bay. Chowder Bay gets its name back from the 1830s when whalers made fish chowder from local oysters and pippies. We drive past waterfront properties that house government and military buildings behind steel fences.
One of these properties is where we are headed. Or at least it was used by the Navy as the soldiers drill hall and has been for many years the site of restaurants and shops. The building is has panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and Clifton Gardens. The Head Chef and owner is Julien Audibert.
We are sitting at a table for two next overlooking a view of the water where we watch as a couple of divers wade in and disappear under the water. This table is the definite pick of tables if you're after a romantic meal for two. "I wish I hadn't worn jeans," I whisper to Mr NQN.
We start with glasses of sparkling wine-the drinks menu is filled with French and Australian wines. They also bring out two amuse bouches, the first is Carpaccio de Saint Jacques or scallops carpaccio with an orange emulsion and crushed pistachios that slips easily down. The second is a ball of duck rillettes with breadcrumbs, another delicious bite that is designed to be like serving duck rillettes on croutons. These are usually part of the 8 course chef's tasting menu on Friday nights.
Our first entrée is a beauty and it is a special of the evening and set to go on the summer menu. It's a puff pastry tart topped with a balsamic glazed tomato, mustard, home made pistou and buratinna. They've chopped the knot on top of the buratinna so that it is easier to cut and spread. It's a gorgeous dish, the buratinna spilling its creamy contents all over the crisp pastry and tomato.
The scallops usually come three to a serve but they can easily add on more so we have two each. The scallops are gratinéed and dressed with a hazelnut, chive and lemon butter . The scallops are perfectly cooked and the butter is glorious - make sure to get some baguette and cultured butter ($6) to mop up all of that butter.
I would have normally ordered their signature Bouillabaisse but it has barramundi and I am allergic to it. Our waiter recommends the duck breast special which is a duck breast with potato gratin dauphinoise, orange sauce and wild roquette. I particularly like the orange sauce for this which has a hint of nutmeg and warm spices.
However my favourite main is definitely the Entrecôte with fries. It's a 300g beef scotch fillet with a marble score of 3 served with hand cut French fries and a pot of pepper sauce. It's a beautiful steak with a nice amount of char to it and cooked perfectly pink inside so that each bite is tender and juicy. Usually I only really like the flavour of dry aged steaks but this one is so good that it doesn't even need the pepper sauce. It's also a nice treat to get hand cut fries and they are piping hot and moreish especially dipped in the orange sauce from the duck.
It's time for dessert and the selection is full of French classics like tarte tatin, chocolate mousse and gelato but we are persuaded to try the vanilla panna cotta infused with French vanilla beans and it's served on a layer of caramel sauce not unlike a crème caramel.
While I usually don't finish a big meal with chocolate fondant I was persuaded to try it by the waitstaff. I take a spoon to the warm chocolate fondant served with vanilla gelato on top and the centre of this chocolate fondant oozes out slowly only to be caught by my spoon.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever ask for particular tables when eating out?
NQN and Mr NQN were guests of L'Heritage but all opinions remain her own.
7b Chowder Bay Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
Phone: (02) 9968 1658
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 am–3:30 pm, 5–10 pm
Monday & Tuesday Closed