Nov 6, 2012

Bistro Meme, Gladesville.

Today's restaurant review sees the SSG's finally dine at a restaurant whose cuisine does not originate in South East Asia.

Perhaps I should qualify that statement.  Ever since I've been pregnant, I've been religiously following the safe eating guidelines set out by the NSW Health Department.  'The List' runs to several pages and has a traffic light system of colour coding foods based on how safe they are for expectant mothers to eat.  Restricting myself to the green list of foods has seen the household's diet revolve around home cooked (or reheated, let's be honest here) meals and only going out to eat food that's piping hot.  Asian cuisines seem to have been the safest option for us.  Fine dining and expeditions to the city's latest and greatest have been curtailed for the moment due to my uncertainty over what may be raw or not in a particular dish.

But enough about dietary guidelines.  Last Friday night, Mr SSG and I ventured up the road to Bistro Meme with our friend R who was visiting from Perth.  R was keen for some French cuisine to round out his trip over here whilst Mr SSG and I were keen to eat somewhere close to home so that we could avoid the Friday afternoon traffic chaos that Sydney is so vulnerable to.  Bistro Meme happily fit the bill for us all.  The bistro is owned by David Poirier who is also part of the team of La Grand Bouffe in Rozelle so it has an impressive pedigree.

Bistro Meme occupies part of the ground floor of a modern apartment block on Cowell Street.  For non locals, this is a 5 minute walk from the bus stop near the bottle shop on Victoria Road.  The glass windows and aluminium finish of the restaurant's exterior gives way to bistro chic from the moment you step in the front door and are lead to your table by the young and cheerful floor staff. The tables are small and cozily clustered together.  My favourite part of the dining room is the central serving station which houses a variety of alcoholic beverages and some rustic floral arrangements.

The exposed brick walls and wrought iron light fixtures add warmth to the space whilst the pleasant noise of locals celebrating the end of the working week made me forget my own cares about the week that was.

Aside from serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Bistro Meme also sells key ingredients for French cooking.  Also available for sale are a variety of cheeses and home made French delicacies.  The coffee is also roasted on site.

We began our meal with an appetiser of escargot in a buttery garlic sauce.

This was the first time I'd eaten escargot and I enjoyed them more than I thought I would.  The accompanying sauce was just made to be mopped up with pieces of baguette.

Determined to make the most of rare night out together, the boys ordered heavily from the part of the menu that Mr SSG's personal trainer would call 'sometimes' (if ever) foods.  R also has an interest in French wines and was happy to find a particular blend on the wine list that he was keen to try.

Charcuterie plate for two - $29.
Together, they made short work of a charcuterie plate of pate, cold meats and rillettes.

In a nod to more adventurous menu choices, they also shared the ox tongue entree.
Grilled ox tongue with celeriac remoulade - $16.
I will declare my uncultured palate here and say that I enjoyed the tongue because it tasted a little like the beefburgers used in Hungry Jack's Whoppers.  And I mean this is the nicest possible way.

Crispy white bait with tartare sauce - $16.
I played it safe with a battered entree.  The serving of white bait was generous and while the batter was quite heavy, each piece was evenly coated and very crisp.

David the pig and the keys to the bathrooms...
The service at Bistro Meme was attentive and friendly.  Our courses were spaced nicely with no pressure on us to be done by second service time, as is often the case in fancy places in the city.

We had plenty of time to chat and catch up about life in Perth.  All our friends are well with impending and recent births keeping many households busy.  We made hopeful plans for a massive, multiple family holiday somewhere.... sometime in the future and we also talked about food in Perth.  According to R, it's ridiculously expensive.

The mining boom has brought many good things to our home town such as prosperity and a higher profile (ie that we do indeed exist) in the eyes of the Eastern seaboard.  This has resulted in renewed vigour in the Perth restaurant scene with not only locals but interstate interlopers keen to stake a hold in the city.  Unfortunately, labour and food costs appear to be higher than in the east and your restaurant dollar doesn't get you quite as far in Perth as it does in Sydney.  At all price points, it seems.  Which is why R was enjoying eating out here as much as he was.

Lamb rump with ratatouille and polenta - $29.
A hearty apetite is something that should never be wasted so I went with lamb for my main.  It was hearty.  The tender cubes of lamb and the soft texture of the perfectly cooked eggplant were made to be eaten with the accompanying creamy polenta.

Pommes frite - $7.
I am proud to say that our one side dish did not feature green vegetables but rather a generous bowl full of elegant and crisp pommes frite.  Which we all devoured.
Crispy pork belly with apple calvados - $27.
R ordered the pork belly and enjoyed it immensely.

Duck breast with hazelnut, orange and prune salad - $29.
Mr SSG decided to remember that he had personal training the next morning and ordered the duck salad.  Again, the meat of the duck breast was tender and the richness of the meat was tempered by the prunes and orange segments.
Apple tarte tatin with calvados ice cream - $14.50.

Only one person made it to the dessert course and that person was .... me.  I found the flavours of the tarte tatin and ice cream quite bold and stark if each were eaten on their own.  Together, though, the sweetness of the tarte and the brandy flavours of the ice cream combined successfully.

Bistro Meme's aromatic home brew, in the flacons to the right in this photo.

But wait, there's more.  In addition to the complimentary appetizer at the beginning of the meal, the boys were offered a night cap of the bistro's 'home brew'.  There was vigorous debate as to the alcohol proof of the beverage and it definitely looked as if it made the walk home in the cool air a little more bearable.

The cheese cabinet.
Bistro Meme is a lovely place to spend an evening.  The food is hearty, the service friendly and best of all, it's a stones throw from home.  We will definitely be back again soon.

Bistro Meme on Urbanspoon


  1. Lisa @ Bithe MomentsNovember 6, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    How lucky to have such a lovely place within walking distance. We live in a strange little island suburb with no shops / cafes / anything really. Walking distance is a 40 minute walk, hardly the same! I'm salivating over that dessert - yum!

  2. Something GorgeousNovember 6, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    I can almost smell the aromas. Lucky you. G.x

  3. I love French Food and that meal looked delish. Giggling about the NSW Government food guidelines for pregnancy....when I was gestating in France I became familiar with the French 'list'....they have a zero tolerance to alcohol (surprise surprise) yet all cheese was OK (I was so stunned I kept double checking....Roquefort, Brie de Meaux all good!). Australians don't have immunity to toxoplasmosis (the French do as it's already in their soil) and because of this and this only they told me not to eat steak tartare! Rx


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