Monday, August 01, 2011

Baroque Bistro, The Rocks

I am firmly of the belief that birthdays should be celebrated for at least a week, which is how we end up at a pre-birthday lunch for The Boy in The Rocks. I'd stumbled across a meal deal voucher for Baroque Bistro, a somewhat fancy French bistro and patisserie – which seems like a fitting place for a pre-birthday celebration. I'm taking The Boy to Canberra for his actually birthday, so perhaps this semi-fancy lunch is an apology of sorts (ha ha)!

The added bonus of lunching at Baroque Bistro is that we would have a chance to wander around The Rocks and look at the markets and marvel at some of the fabulous old buildings that dominate this area. If we are in the city we may as will make a day it.

Although The Rocks markets are geared towards tourists there are a number of stalls selling lovely handmade items and I did happen to pick up a lovely brooch made out of broken tiles… So pretty!

After the horrendously rainy week Sydney had experienced I was thrilled to see a bit of sunshine, which thankfully stayed about for the entire day. We spent about an hour wandering around before lunch, and working up an appetite! 

Our meal at Baroque Bistro starts with a seemingly bottomless bowl of warm white bread served with a lovely, smooth olive oil for dipping. It's amazing how lovely an expensive olive oil can taste – maybe we should stop burying the cheap, homebrand stuff for use at home. I also like to sprinkle a little Pink Murray River salt on the bread and oil – lovely.

After we polished off nearly 2 bowls of bread the entrees arrive. The boy has selected a fricassee of calamari with saffron crackers and crab cream. This is probably one of the most fancy dishes either The Boy is or I have ever eaten – it has a foam on it, fancy! I adore the way the calamari is diced into tiny cubes, giving it a whole new texture in the mouth.

The waitress helps me out with my entree decision as everything sounded so delightful I didn't know what to choose. With her help I end up selecting grilled scallops, shitake confiture, fried pine nuts, with Jerusalem artichokes and butternut pumpkin. The scallops were perfectly cooked, and incredibly tender. This is the first time I've ever had Jerusalem artichokes and I loved the woody texture and the taste that I would say is similar to a Swede.

There is a bit of breathing space between the entrees and the main, which is welcome as were starting to fill up – too much bread!  We get a chance to admire the beautiful setting of the restaurant - the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are just outside the windows. The interior of the restaurant is both swish and rustic all at the same time. I particularly love the bronze light fittings that adorn one of the dining rooms.

For mains The Boy was quite taken by the ten-hour slow roasted Bangalow pork that was on the specials board. He promised to share some of the crackling with me and it was really nice - crispy and salty and I suspect deep-fried to give it that extra crunch.  I was keen to try one of the Brussel Sprouts that came with his meal. My previous ventures into the world of Brussel Sprouts has been HORRIFIC - over boiled, soggy little balls of YUK!  I'm pleased to say I quite enjoy the Brussel Sprouts at Baroque, though I still found them a little bitter tasting.

I chose grilled Angus flank steak, triple cooked chips with an eschalotte and watercress salad and béarnaise sauce for my main. As soon as I saw triple cooked fries on the menu I knew I had to have them – especially after seeing them being cooked on Masterchef earlier this year. The fries were TOTALLY AMAZING and I would say the star of the dish. They were super crunchy on the outside yet the potato on the inside was still soft and fluffy. 

I probably didn't need to dip these tripled cooked fries into the creamy béarnaise sauce as they were naughty enough as it was, but oh my it was good! I really appreciated the token watercress salad on the side to give my arteries a bit of relief from all the fatty goodness.

When I told the boy that we were to share a dessert I have to say he was a bit miffed – after all if this is his pre-birthday lunch why has he got to share a dessert? Good point, but as there is only one dessert on offer with our voucher I certainly wasn't going to miss out.

Before dessert arrived we are offered tea or coffee. The boy opts for a cappuccino and I choose a Peppermint Tea (I have a no coffee after midday rule as I have enough trouble sleeping as it is)!

Our lovely French waitress kept explaining to me what dessert was in her sexy French accent, but I just could not understand what she was saying as she was saying the name of the dessert in French. I later asked one of the Australian waitresses what the dessert was.  When she explained it was a sampling of the pastries of the day plus a selection of macarons I knew that sharing would be no problem.

When the dessert platter arrived at our table I’m sure our jaws nearly hit the floor. Although each petit four was relatively small in size the combination of all the elements on the plate made for an incredibly large dessert. We had a little of everything on our plate, from chocolate twirls, berry cheesecake, tiramsu, truffles, dots of berry jus, almond clusters, a berry sponge concoction, chocolate mousse, macarons and a biscuit crumble. 

Everything tasted amazingly delicious and decedant. I've never eaten anything like this before in my life as it just seems so over the top!  Needless to say I was very sad when my dessert stomached totally failed me and we had to box up the macrons and take them home.

After lunch we strolled across the Harbour Bridge, admired the fabulous views of the city and the Opera House and jumped on the train at Milsons Point to head home. 

The walk probably took as an hour as we stopped every few seconds to admire the view and try and snap the perfect picture to capture the day.

Baroque Bistro and Patisserie is at 88 George Street (corner of Hickson Road) The Rocks, Sydney. I’d recommend making a booking as they were incredibly busy on the day we visited and were turning people away.

Baroque | Bistro Bar Patisserie on Urbanspoon

A note on my photos: this was another outing with the D3000. I was hesitant to take the camera with me after the last two epic failures, but I thought "why not"? I reset all the settings which seem to have fixed the issue with the light meter not balancing...mostly.  In a silly move though I sat facing the window at the restaurant, so the photos are all a bit "off" in terms of their colour (too bright perhaps - who knows, not me). I've since been told that next time I need to sit with my back to the light.  I think on a few of the outdoor photos in particular I had the shutter speed too slow (so they are over exposed). This hasn't been helped by my fiddling around in Picasa to try and fix up the light and colour.  I also increased the f/stop from f/1.8 to f/2.5 so the photos have less blur, but I could probably up this even a bit more to make sure the whole plate of food is focus -- looks a bit more appetising that way, right?


  1. That dessert & the macarons look divine :D

  2. Your pics look great Mel! You are definitely too hard on yourself. Your sense of composition is lovely... I love that shot of the sugar cube!

    I had a look at your EXIF data on the photo of the box of Macarons, and noticed you were shooting on quite a high ISO setting - 1100? Your shutter speed was very quick at 1/160 - this indicates that the room was quite bright, so I think you could have brought the ISO down a bit.

    Ideally you should aim to set your ISO as low as possible - maybe 200-400 in bright sunlight. When the ISO setting is high, it can mess with your colours and make them look a bit flat and grey (not to mention high ISOs add noise!)

    As a guide - you should be able to shoot a photo handheld at a shutter speed of 1/60 and still avoid camera shake. Slower if you can prop your arm against the table or something sturdy.

    But honestly you are doing so well! I just compare these photos to the pics you were taking with your canon, and there is such a huge difference!!

  3. love baroque! the dessert sample platter looks awesome!

  4. hey mel, love baroque! love the food and damn that dessert sample looks delicious! think your photos look great! agree with crunchy tiger! you are too hard on yourself :)

  5. What a lovely place for a birthday meal - I had a booking on the weekend but had to cancel as the other half was sick :( Also, great advice from crunchytiger; in daylight, ISO 400 is more than enough to avoid over-exposure. The photos are fantastic, regardless.

  6. I totally agree on the birthday festivus week front - especially if it involves multiple delicious outings! That meal looked like a total jaw-dropper from start to finish! I've never heard of Baroque so will have to try it. Luckily there are a few birthdays coming up:)

  7. Photos look nice Mel!

    Love everything about baroque, especially their salted caramel and black truffle macarons! The bouillabaisse is good too!

  8. It's good that you're approaching your photography with a critical eye but don't be too hard on yourself. It's a process that takes time to understand, let alone finesse.

    It looks like you had some really delicious food at Baroque. Only ever had desserts there so would love to go back for savouries.

  9. hey mel your pics looks great! im dying to try the slow roasted pork!

  10. The food all looks so vibrant and colourful! And your pics look great to me!

  11. Great photos! & also thanks to the other Mel for the advise, useful for me, too.

  12. This place looks great - I cannot believe Mr Chipconnoisseur is allergic to vouchers (but loves good food so we always pay through the nose), I should start buying them... I've decided this looking at the 2 most unhealthy meals on the list: chips and dessert. What have I become???

  13. Lol, totally agree that birthday's should be celebrated for at least a month. The dessert looks stunning.

  14. Well, I'm drooling, so clearly your pictures are taking effect! Haha!

    I must not be a good foodie, because I have never tried anything "foam" before in my life. It seems to be a popular thing these days though! Very hau frau!

  15. Isn't Baroque great! And bonus that you can go shopping at the markets before or after! :)

  16. Your photos look awesome - as does that fabulous meal. Baroque is now on the list :) what an awesome meal deal!

  17. Haha fancy foam! Good quality olive oil is such a must-buy, I think you should treat yourself and get some for home! :D
    This lunch looks delicious, and what a perfect location.

  18. What a fantastic day in Sydney, playing tourist with! Lunch at Baroque looks great, that dessert platter, oh yes please.

  19. Beautiful food and looks like it was a wonderfully relaxing day. The dessert platter looks like an artwork and who wouldn't drop their jaw at all the pretty colours?

    And I think your photos are coming along quite nicely!

  20. Fantastic photos. Its a shame i missed out on the triple fried fries. I've been there a few times, but never for lunch. Anyway about the photos. I had a similar issue a few years ago. It ended up due to the UV filter I had on. If you're using a cheap-o filter, might aswell don't use one, it gives the image a unwanted washed out look. The other thing could be the ISO setting used. Hope that helps!


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