By Franz Scheurer
With glorious, intimate views of the Opera House, the Quay and Kirribilli, Bambu is the latest restaurant to open in the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Another venture by Wolfie Pizem, it is architect designed by Misho, interior designed by Olga Gruzdeff and most of the restaurant is taken up by a huge sculpture by Horst Kiechle.
Colours are warm and earthy hiding the warehouse space very well. The sculpture reminds me of a series of photographer’s reflector panels and it doesn’t really come into its own until dusk when the lights are being switched on. Then it mimics the sails of the Opera House and really comes alive.
On the mezzanine level, you find a cocktail bar with even grander views and its own menu of bar snacks.
I do not usually comment at length on the chairs in restaurants, but I will make an exception. The chairs and lounge chairs, although attractive, are the worst things I ever had the misfortune to sit on. Whoever bought them should have to spend a day sitting in one of them for punishment! The chairs are too narrow, hard, with thin, uncomfortable armrests and the lounge chairs too soft, forward slanting and an ergonomic disaster.
The savoury part of the menu is broken up into five sections plus sides. The Sea, Asian, Mediterranean, French, and The Land. Each section showcases four dishes and all dishes are available in entrée size and some of them in a main size, as well. The idea is to mix and match and share.
We started the meal with a main size ‘Variation of Small Seafood Appetisers’ which consisted of flattened scallops served as a Thai style salad, a couple of oysters, natural and a couple Thai flavoured, tapenade coated barramundi fillet pieces and seared tuna with brandade. The scallops were excellent, the oysters not freshly shucked and the tuna and barramundi hardly memorable.
We continued our meal by sharing four entrée size dishes: ‘Slow Roasted Magret of Duck with Olives, Truffle Oil Potatoes’, ‘Harissa Spiced Lamb Tenderloin with Fetta and Roquette on Potato Bread’, ‘Drunken Corn-fed Chicken Salad with Chilli and Green Mango’ and ‘Strozzapretti fried with Sage, Marmalade of Three Tomato and Parmesan’. The quality of the duck was not as good as one has come to expect from Sydney restaurants and the truffle oil was too strong for my taste. The chicken salad was excellent, as was the pasta. The lamb was a 10/10 if you didn’t touch the sauce, which was cloying and totally spoilt the wonderful balance of the dish, but thankfully was served separately.
The experienced kitchen team with Xavier Mouche as executive chef, (ex Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, Regent, Sheraton on the Park and Bathers Pavilion) and Wil Meyrick (ex Longrain) and Danielle Renwick (ex Rockpool Group) have a firm grasp on Asian, French and Mediterranean flavours and textures and presentation is excellent. Considering that the restaurant has only been open for two weeks, they did a great job and no doubt, the food will only get better.
Desserts definitely lived up to our expectations. The ‘Pistachio Ice Cream, Soft Baked Chocolate Tart, Cherries’ and the ‘Toblerone Pizza with Coffee Granité’ both looked every bit as beautiful as they tasted. They alone would be reasons to come back.
The wine list, compiled by sommelier Ben Moechtar (ex MG Garage) is as eclectic as the menu. Lots of boutique labels and a few wines available by the glass. A very small list I believe the place demands a bit of expansion.
Service is friendly and casual and value for money is excellent. This really is quite a cheap night out, with good food, a glorious view and a great list of cocktails to boot.
For more information or bookings:
Overseas Passenger Terminal
Circular Quay West
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel.: 02 9247 6044