A restaurant that has gained a modicum of repute and fanfare in 2013 is Ananas Bar & Brasserie. It underwent a re-brand and relaunch in 2013 under executive chef Paul McGrath (of The Ortolan on Bayswater) that aims to bring back classic, but bold French flavours.
As it turned out, these improvements to Ananas won it a chef’s hat for the 2013-2014 Good Food Guide.
As I work only 2 minutes from The Rocks (which is where Ananas is situated), visiting the restaurant was going to be inevitable. As it stands, Argyle Xchange (the complex that houses Ananas, Sake and The Cut Bar & Grill) was running an offer that month which featured $25 lunches. I was keen, so leggo.
Date Last Visited: 24/7/13
Address: 18 Argyle St The Rocks, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): Ravioli, pork belly
Ananas has a very well-decorated interior. They are definitely serious about the class that they intend to exude. Indeed, the bar and lounge at the entrance of the restaurant (apologies for lack of picture) is even more impressive. Classy, but not quite over the top, at least in my eyes. I’ve seen worse.
These $25 lunches became something much more than $25 as my work buddy and I decided to get an entree, as well as sides. Ananas is not particularly expensive, though it’s not a cheap dining destination either. Prices, as usual, are listed next to the dish caption.
Bread naturally always comes first. It does its job priming our stomachs for the food to follow, but itself is nothing to write home about. It’s in line with bread elsewhere.
We start off with an entree of lobster ravioli served in a bisque of the same. It’s $33 for a main size, while the picture above is the entree size. The presentation of the dish is very impressive, with a cleanly defined area for the food itself with no spillage or stains. Overall a very /clean/ feel which made it look all the better.
The ravioli itself is quite large, so don’t be dissuaded that you only get a few pieces. Besides, it’s not really an entree to be shared. I presume the main size would improve the serving by at least 50%, if not more.
The taste of the ravioli is just gorgeous. Quite possibly my favourite dish of the meal, it just works. The filling is delicate in texture but doesn’t fall apart in chewing, with the expected lobster textures working its magic. It’s not overcooked, nor is it undercooked.
One of the main problems I usually have with lobster is that it’s often underseasoned so there isn’t really much flavour being brought through – after all, lobster inherently has a small flavour profile, much like scallop. Ananas’ ravioli avoided this, much credit to the bisque which was packed with flavour.
Pity I could only have half of the dish!
My work friend surprisingly went for the vegetarian mushroom papardelle. Taste-wise it wasn’t particularly great, mainly because the pasta was more oily than it was flavoursome. That said, the mushrooms that were served with the pasta did a stellar job of making up for most of the pasta’s deficiencies. Its flavour was granted by its own aromas, as well as the delicious burnt buttery goodness that is beurre noisette.
In what is quite possibly no surprise to anyone, the main I chose is the crisp pork belly w/celeriac. Yes, I have to have my protein, even if it comes with lethal doses of fat. Why pork belly though? I could get that anywhere, right? Well yes, but I had limited choices from the $25 lunch menu.
But, the decision was not regretted the moment the plate landed on the table. Not only is the presentation immaculate, the taste was more so. It didn’t even come off as particularly heavy, which many pork bellies do. The meat to fat ratio was perhaps more lean than fatty, but the taste wasn’t compromised due to the creaminess of the remoulade underneath. Overall, it’s one of the better pork bellies on offer in the Sydney dining scene.
Not content with just an entree + mains, we decided to get a side of broccolini with tomato confit. This was more than basic, but I found it was the best broccolini I’ve ever had. Not that it’s saying much, because I don’t have it often. Still, it tasted really fab for a simple vegetable cooked in a simple way. The veggies themselves were packed with savoury flavour while the confit tomatoes give a tangy counter. Great side!
Overall, my first experience with Ananas has been mostly positive. Looks like The Rocks has added another worthy member to its dining scene.
P.S. I didn’t end up seeing the infamous women’s lips toilet urinals that have recently cooked up a storm as I didn’t have the need to go to the toilet. That’s gotta be worth checking out
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Awesome: simple dishes cooked very well, great interior
Not so Awesome: other simple dishes not cooked so well