Friday, 17 December 2010

Duke Bistro, Darlinghurst

Bar @ Duke Bistro

A last minute dinner outing with Nut and her mom (who was visiting) before she goes back to Thailand for good - another fellow blogger that I've just get to know and now have to say goodbye too *sob*.
Managed to drag my usual partner in crime too - Ony.

At the helm of Duke Bistro's kitchen we have the talented duo of Thomas Lim (of Tetsuya's fame) and Mitchell Orr (the recipient of 2010 Young Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of The Year and was at Sepia), pretty sure we are in very capable hands tonight ^_^

The decor is very cool with vintage asian themed decors and colours of rich red, green and dark brown. 
Somehow the bistro reminded me of my late grandma's house back in the days, it brings back nostalgic memories :)

Recycled Water Bottle

Got some tap water while I waited for the others to turn up and how cool is that bottle ?
It was used to be a whisky bottle maybe ? On the other side of the bottle you have "Made In", a British whisky perhaps :)  

Ceiling Fan ; Hemmingway The Bar Hog

Asked the waiter if it's okay to take pictures, he said I may, under one condition *oh ouw....*

Friendly Waiter  : "You have to take a photo with Hemmingway"
Confused Blogger : "Who ?"
Friendly Waiter  : "Hemmingway, The Bar Hog"

Hemmingway, you looked too scary with that bottle of Shiracha in your mouth, so I'll just take a shot of you from far far away.....

Hotel Nacional Cocktail ; Bar ;
Strawberry & Guava Mocktail ; Ginger Ale, Lime & Pineapple Juice Mocktail

Ony ordered something off the cocktail menu, Hotel Nacional (light rum, fresh pineapple juice, apricot liqueur & peach bitters) was recommended by the waiter.
While the rest of us opted for mocktails which were not on the menu but can me made to your liking.
Nut's mom got the Strawberry & Guava mocktail, while the two of us got the same one, a simple concoction of Ginger Ale, Fresh Lime & Pineapple Juice. 

Cute Tea Light Tea Cups & Cool Cutleries

There were 15 dishes in the Share Plates menu, it was easier to eliminate those that we don't want than choosing what we wanted, so that's what we did :P
Just need one more person and we could have ordered everything on the menu ! 
After reading out to the (slightly shocked) waiter, I asked if that would be enough - 9 share plates for 4 of us, plus we are going to order 2 desserts later on (advanced stomach space planning).
His reply was that would be enough if we are hungry , to which all of us nodded LOL

Kingfish Gin & Tonic $18.00

Our orders were served 3 dishes at a time, progressing in groups from lightly flavoured to a more heavier and richer dishes.

First up is the Kingfish Gin & Tonic, served in a glass as you would gin and tonic. The kingfish sashimi was firm and fresh, topped with roasted coriander seed, micro coriander and curled ribbons of cucumber. The gin & tonic jelly at the bottom was interesting, you can definitely taste the gin and the fizz from the tonic water gives the tingling sensation on your tongue - fun !

Char-Grilled Watermelon & Fresh Herbs $10.00

A new seasonal dish that was highly recommended by the waiter and I must agree 100%, this was one of my favourite dishes of the night.
The warm and nicely charred watermelon slab was topped with a fresh herb salad with Vietnamese flavoured dressing. The herb salad consisted of a medley of zucchini flowers, mint, coriander, eschalot, cucumber and chilli.
Simple flavours but tasted oh so good and light - delicious !

Fritto Misto $16.00

The fritto misto was a plate of lightly battered and crisply deep fried school of prawns, squid, white bait, a very tender octopus and the very interesting "octopus pops" - as the waiter described it.
Octopus pops, as I later discovered, were the little suction cups found on octopus tentacles - those little suckers hehehehehe.
They pops were removed then deep fried till very crisp ! The platter is served with a wedge of lime and yuzu mayonnaise.

Night Time Ambience

As the sun sets, the place gets really dark, which equals to blurry shots T___T
I was so tempted to bring out the plates to the balcony area where there were tables with so much better lighting.

Fried Chicken Wings, Coleslaw Milk, Hot Sauce  $10.00

Fried chicken wings will always put a smile on my face :) And it was done perfectly here at Duke Bistro, the wings were very crispy and juicy. Squirt some Shiracha Hot Sauce if you like hot and spicy wings.
I liked the coleslaw milk that was quite interesting. It tasted like coleslaw, but in a puree form, except for the random bits of crunchy cabbage.

Egg, Seasonal Mushrooms, Almonds $15.00

The other favourite of mine for the night - a mixture of seasonal mushrooms (I think they were eringi, enoki, wood ear fungus, white cloud ear fungus, shiitake, oyster), sprinkle of curly parsley and scattering of almond flakes. 
Break the perfectly poached egg, mix with the mushrooms and pour over the hot consommé that came in a little beaker. 
What you end up with was a warming, slightly soupy dish with earthy flavours, loved it !! 

Tater Tots, Duke Gravy, Edamame $15.00

The tater tots were potato hash, served with Duke gravy that came with tender braised veal, edamame and pea shoots.
The portion was the smallest for the price compared to the other dishes. The tater tots were too salty for my liking as well.

Wagyu, Herb Dressing, Baby Gem Lettuce $24.00

The wagyu steak was quite tender and served medium rare. The tangy herb dressing compliment the wagyu well, but the star on the plate for me would be the grilled lettuce *lettuce over wagyu ?!?!*
We were instructed to squeeze the wedge of lemon over the chargrilled baby gem lettuce and it was very good ! 
The lettuce was tender and sweet with a slight charred flavour, lifted up higher with the spritz of lemon. 
Again, so simple but oh so good :)

Lamb Belly, Cumin, Eggplant, Pearl Onions $16.00

Obviously not a dish I would usually order, but I still gave it a go (in the name of research).
The lamb belly was tender but had very strong lamb flavour that I just can't take. The lamb belly was served with a gravy with barley, eggplant puree and sweet caramelized pearl onions. 

Beef Shortrib Pancakes $20.00

Another seasonal special, beef shortrib pancakes ala Peking duck :D
Grab a disc of pancake, a ribbon of pickled daikon with crushed pink peppercorns, then some beef shortribs, sprinkle some shredded shisho (perilla) leaves an a drizzle of jalapeno sauce, wrap and straight into your mouth *chomp* - thumbs up !!
It was a mixture of different textures and flavours, although I wish the shortrib were more tender and it would be perfect. 

Knickerbocker Glory $12.00

As planned, we ordered just 2 desserts to share :)
The Knickerbocker Glory is a trifle of mango jelly, sliced fresh strawberries, beetroot meringue, whipped cream, pannacotta ice cream and topped with an edible pansy.
This was one interesting dessert, with the obvious odd one out being the beetroot meringue. 
If you eat them all together in one spoonful it was good, but I did the mistake of eating the beetroot on its own (not knowing what it was prior) and it kind of put me off a little (and I love beetroot).

"Peaches & Créme" $12.00

This special dessert of the day was described as the chefs take on the classic peaches and cream.
The inside shots didn't turn out well so you just have to bear with me and use your imagination ^_^
At the bottom of the ramekin we had poached peaches, then a layer of whipped cream, scattered almond brittle bits, pipe some meringue and last but not least, some blow torch action !
The peaches was nicely poached, tender but not too soft and the crunchy almond brittle added some nice crunch and caramelized nutty flavours. A tad too sweet because of the meringue but it was a delicious spin on a classic dessert. 

Lovely Note :D

The bill came with a lovely thank you note - well, thank you guys for the very friendly and attentive service ^_^
At the end of the night, we end up spending $50/person including the drinks, which I found was pretty good for the amount of food we had.
The flavours combinations were not the norm but they worked well together and interesting in some of the dishes.
The portion on some of the dishes may be on the small side but we left feeling satisfied without being uncomfortably full.

The bistro's noise level does gets higher as the night progress, but it is still a great place to hang out with friends, perhaps not a romantic dinner :P

Good luck Nut in your future and I'm sure you will reach your dream of becoming a court judge ( be fair  ^_* )

Duke Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh I need that char-grilled watermelon now!

  2. lol 'be fair'? hahaha
    what was that hog doing? just mounted next to the bar..?
    that mushroom dish sounds interesting!

  3. Thanks for the great guide. Will have to try and make it there some time this year... :)

  4. Kimberley : yeah, should make your way there before the watermelon is off the menu :)

    Cella : guarding the bar hahahahaha. The mushroom was good ..

    Nik : should go when you are back in Sydney !

    Tina : hope you liked it too, a tad pricier than District Dining, but more fun flavour combinations here I think :)

  5. ooohhh. they looked interesting and delicious. would love to try the chargrilled watermelon and the mushrooms..

  6. I've gotta say that lamb belly sounds delicious!

  7. whoa char grilled watermelon! and nawwwwww it has a cute little beaker!!

  8. Mel : definitely must try them :)

    John : despite it having a strong smell that I can't stand, it does have a nice caramelized flavour :)

    Betty : maybe I should start "borrowing" those beakers from the lab at work lol

  9. Watermelon with other savoury stuff is so good!