Bistro Moncur Mosman
It didn’t surprise me in the least, dear readers, when I had heard that Bistro Moncur in our Sydney suburb of Woollahra had opened a sister bistro in the very French/European heart of Mosman. It only makes sense when an in demand, well loved and appreciated classic institution like Bistro Moncur expands and settles in to a part of town where it too would be well received. Although it took mon mari and I a while to actually get there (my French passion is a complicated pursuit at times) once we did, however, it was certainly worth the wait. Everything from the romantic ambience, stunning glass house setting, cuisine and tempo of Bistro Moncur Mosman is enough to transport you to the French Riviera and if you can forget for a while that you’re actually in Sydney you might as well be somewhere in Nice. Damien Pignolet’s (founder and original proprietor of Bistro Moncur Woollahra) inspiration, love and passion for French culture and cuisine continues on here providing that source of comfort and consistency that loyal patrons’ of Moncur keep coming back for. Even the bistro’s love heart logo goes on to remind us of the adoration and desire Pignolet once had to share his love for French cuisine with all who wish to indulge in some authentic and exceptional French cuisine in a setting that’s quite romantic indeed.
From the moment you arrive at the threshold of Bistro Moncur in Mosman you will be enamoured by the stuccoed white washed façade and the romantic and old world charm of the French wood panelling that support immaculate French windows which reveal the stunning interior from within the bistro. A gentle glow emanates from the windows, when we all arrive at the restaurant on a cool and crisp Saturday evening, beckoning us to enter. Glancing into the glasshouse, we immediately notice a full house of diners having a convivial time and to my personal delight a wedding reception is taking place within the bistro’s stunning central reception room. The bride is a picture of loveliness all smiles and joy as she stands by her handsome groom who is giving a speech to elegantly dressed and seemingly content guests. Bistro Moncur Mosman is becoming quite a popular and sought after venue to host a wedding reception with its romantic European inspired glasshouse building, petite French courtyard and lovely large dining rooms to seat guests and of course an indulgently decadent menu. We enter through a wooden door into a Mediterranean inspired lobby framed at the end by a pretty archway and where a table is beautifully set along the main wall and to accommodate the wedding guests. A pristine and elegnant bar, referred to as, “Bar Moncur”, stands by the archway where a couple is sitting cheerfully chatting away as they enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese platter – a nice concept for a quick and casual drink and bite before taking off elsewhere. Tim, the bistro’s gracious maitre d (from Paris but of course), escorts us to the bar to enjoy a drink while we wait for a few of our other friends to arrive and the barman whips up a delicious French and a Lychee Martini for my friend and I while our hubbies enjoy a glass of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon.
Soon enough our other friends arrive and we are led to our lovely banquet table in the central dining room that looks out onto the main, tree lined street and is adjacent to the wedding reception room giving us a superb vantage point into the ceremony taking place. The French windows by our table open up into the central dining room and from our table we can also hear the convivial banter and laughter coming from the reception room. Being a bit of a softy when it comes to weddings I can’t help but admire the delightful romantic scene feeling almost like a guest due to the close proximity. From every direction, the bistro is an eye pleasing delight from the breezy, canopied ceilings to the elegantly dressed tables to the luminous pendant lighting and the open plan airiness and relaxed French Mediterranean inspired ambience and décor. Wait staff are rushing to and fro delivering impressively presented dishes to patrons while a team of chefs can be seen performing cuisine acrobatics from their open plan kitchen hurrying to prepare those delicious and artfully presented menu items that Bistro Moncur is known for. As we waited for our highly anticipated dishes to arrive I was happily soaking in the heavenly and artificial French inspired scene before me and sipping on a Cote du Rhone blanc whilst French lounge music played ever so modestly in the background.
While Bistro Moncur in Woollahra, I am quite certain, has set the bar for all other French restaurants in Sydney this one in Mosman is continuing in her sister’s highly esteemed reputation (in the cuisine department) only with a slightly more Australian twist. The menu here at Bistro Moncur Mosman offers a few of the celebrated and loved items you will find on the Woollahra menu with many more interesting additions offering cuisine with some inspirational ingredient combinations that use Australian ingredients to elevate the French cuisine even higher. The bistro’s wine and alcohol beverage menu is also exquisite with some quality choices of red and white wine from France, Australia and New Zealand chosen to pair beautifully with the menu items with some inventive and splendid cocktails that will delight the palette. On the evening we sampled quite a few entrees, mains and desserts between us and I am not exaggerating when I say how delicious and truly memorable every dish was with presentation worthy of a hatted restaurant in France.
For entrees I/we enjoyed and recommend the Barossa chicken liver pate with pickled cherries, cornichons and brioche and fought over the hand cut steak tartare, the succulently delicious Spanner crap and sweet corn omelette with beurre noisette (caramelised butter) and Buffalo mozzarella and vine ripened tomatoes. For mains we sampled the Pan-fried barramundi with mashed peas, crème fraiche and confit spring onions, the outstanding Crispy skinned New Zealand salmon, sautéed zucchini, mushroom jus and salsa verde, the magnificent Lamb backstrap, eggplant puree with wilted baby kale and cumin jus and the mouth watering Prime fillet steak avec a celestial sauce béarnaise in all its buttery, vinegary and taragony gloriousness. Desserts were just as exceptional in their presentation and taste and I recommend the Pear Tarte Tatin and cinnamon ice-cream (yum!), the Orange and Grand Marnier Bombe Alaska, the gloriously indulgent Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee with almond tuile and the superb without a doubt Passion Fruit Souffle with passion fruit sorbet and passion fruit coulis that a staff member poured into an incision made on the top – c’est magnifique indeed!
While the food here is above and beyond, the service while friendly, is unfortunately not as efficient and fine tuned as what you religiously experience at sister Woollahra. The wait for dishes here between courses is long, exasperating and hard to forgive with surprisingly no offering of complimentary and redemptory bread until we had requested for some to be served while we patiently waited 45 minutes for our entrees to arrive. The bistro also needs to be more alert to the room temperature inside which became so unbearingly warm at one stage we had to ask staff to turn the heat down before being hospitalised for heat exhaustion. The food here, however, does permit you to slightly squint your eyes to the things that require attention and if you come here on a busy Saturday night, as we did, expect and prepare for a long wait while you sip on a no doubt fabulous glass of wine and nibble on some divine house bread that you might have to ask for yourself.
While sister restaurants around the world are never quite the same they do, however, share some key characteristics while engaging in some friendly sibling rivalry. Bistro Moncur in Woollahra is older, more refined and sophisticated with years of experience and wisdom behind her which attracts a like minded crowd that lovingly supports and embraces her charm and more traditional faire. Bistro Moncur in Mosman, however, is the significantly younger, adventurous, more hip and layed back yet potentially sophisticated sister with a subtle elegance that is competing for attention in different ways and yearning to be just as reputable as her sister in Woollahra. Bistro Moncur Mosman still needs time to grow and become more fine tuned and accumulate that very necessary wisdom and efficiency that her sister has mastered well. Regardless of her shortcomings, sister Mosman is still adored and warmly embraced by her local and not so local community who seem to want more of that French je ne sais quoi that continues to entice Sydney siders. As the saying goes, “Behind every little sister there’s a big sister standing behind her and showing her the way”… and so on that note I must ask you, dear readers, are you entranced by Bistro Moncur Mosman inspired by France?
Bistro Moncur Mosman
76 Middle Head Road, Mosman T: 02 8287 2968