I’ve had amazing food in the most hideous decorated restaurants and I’ve also had terrible dishes at the prettiest ones. My main consideration to make a post about a place will always be the food. Thankfully nowadays it’s easier to find a combination of good food and nice interiors. Like at the Clown Bar, where you can find best of both worlds.
The circus-themed decor dates back from the Belle Epoque. And ‘belle’ it certainly is. Not the trendy white tiles and marble counters we see a lot nowadays but walls filled with colorful, hand painted clowns on ceramic tiles, a floral ceiling and a gorgeous bar. A fear of red noses will be easy to overcome in here. There’s nothing scary about this place.
Clown Bar was taken over by Sven Chartier and Ewen Le Moigne from Saturne and together with former Vivant chef Sota Atsumi the historical bistro has turned into a real gastro bar.
The cuisine is refined, tasty and accessible. With a use of quality ingredients dictated by what’s in season and available on the day. I went there for lunch and had two starters and one dessert. The foie at Clown Bar was creamy, exceptionally smooth and the unusual combination with smoked eel and cucumber was excellent. Quite a heavy dish though so I was glad I also ordered the dish with tuna, raspberries and rocket. Light and fresh. The dessert, a licorice/ anise jelly combined with cardamom and melon was the most surprising dish. Normally I’m not a huge fan of jelly textures but I had no problems eating this one. The flavours were exquisite!
If you’re looking for a casual but intimate French bistro with a creative twist on the classics, Clown Bar is the place to go. Don’t forget to make a reservation in advance.
Clown Bar Paris, 114 Rue Amelot, +33 (0)1 43 55 87 35
With my upcoming trip to Japan at the time I was in Australia I was keen on trying some more Japanese food in advance. When I walked by Cho Cho San the simplicity and beauty of the design of the restaurant drew my attention.
The Japanese izakaya or bar-style food here is taken to a new level. The menu at Cho Cho San is not like the traditional Japanese cuisine. The food is designed to share. It’s simple but exciting, light but satisfying, with new tastes and textures to experience.
Just like in traditional Izakaya drinks play a big role at Cho Cho San. They have a great range of drinks from their cracking sake menu to a well put together wine list. I tried two of their fresh cocktails, perfect refreshments on a hot day in Sydney.
With former Ester chef Nicholas Wong my expectations were quite high and he didn’t disappoint. My favorite dish was the tuna with avocado and pickled eggplant dressed with tamari and sesame. Soft, creamy but still light and fresh. Subtle, just like the interior. Pure and minimal, deceivingly simple but at the same time elegant and beautiful.
The owners of Cho Cho San are the same ones behind the popular Greek restaurant The Apollo across the street which we visited later that week. A promising start for what would follow.
Cho Cho San
73 Macleay St, Potts Point NSW 2011, Australia
+61 2 9331 6601
One of the best surprises in Melbourne: Cutler & Co. After a long, hot and sweaty day of wandering through Melbourne we accidentally walked by Cutler & Co. The good looking restaurant caught our eye. At that time our experience in Melbourne already learned us all the places in Australia that look good actually serve good food as well so we stepped in. Wearing shorts, flip flops and messy hair immediately made us feel a bit uncomfortable when we saw the beautiful interior but the friendly staff at the door made us feel welcome anyway. Unfortunately they were fully booked that evening but we got ourselves a table for the next one. Without doing any more research we dressed up the next evening to eat at Cutler & Co, not knowing the restaurant was voted nr 7 in the top 10 best Australian restaurants by Gourmet Traveller. The restaurant is classy but unpretentious. You’ll find a mix of diners ranging from young couples to business meetings and family-get-togethers. The enthusiastic, friendly and well informed service team knew how to precisely introduce the dishes without overdoing it and kept us focussed on the degustation menu with paired juices en excellent wines. We started off with a delicious Ortiz anchovy pastry, followed by the tuna tartar with slightly smoked kohlrabi, fromage blanc, bottarga and lavas. This might have been the highlight of my meal although the following course with pickled mussels, bean salad and almond, fennel cream was very, very impressive as well. And of course the rest of the meal is also worth mentioning. Like the Flounder with blackened leek, pickled onion and Brown Butter. The smoked duck breast, salsify and prunes. The dry aged lamb saddle, confit belly, garlic sauce and fermented carrot. Dessert was no letdown either. In fact, the buttermilk ice-cream with melon, cucumber, verbana jelly and thickened melon juice was in our top 3 dishes at Cutler & Co. as well! Happily surprised by how good the food was I did some research afterwards and found out Chef Andrew McConnell is a veteran of the Melbourne restaurant scene an has won just about every award going during his career. His restaurant group also includes Cummulus Inc, Supernormal, Moon Under Water/ Builders Arms Hotel and Luxembourg. I visited Builders Arms Hotel and I’ve put the rest on the list for my next visit to Australia! 55–57 Gertrude St. Fitzroy 3065, Melbourne