Bistro Lilly – A Strange Cocktail

To mark the end of 2012 as an excuse to eat out, my family and I went to this French restaurant near The Rocks on Kent St called Bistro Lilly. I haven’t really heard much about it before, but decided to give it a go after snagging a 30% off the entire bill booking. What could go wrong?

Turns out, a few things unfortunately.

Read on for the scoop.

Date Visited: 1/02/2012
Address: 168 Kent St Sydney, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: Butternut pumpkin croquette, waldorf salad, truffle oil & cress

As mentioned in my Marque post, I’ll be using my new dot point format in an attempt to curb my verbosity. It seems to be well-received so far! Please feel free to leave a comment as to how things should be done.

Bistro Lilly interior

Bistro Lilly interior

There’s not much to say about Bistro Lilly’s interior. It’s the standard fare really, with decent table spacing. That’s really important to me, hence me pointing it out. Good stuff.

We opted for Bistro Lilly’s 6+1 course degustation (the +1 is an optional course that we opted for) which came in at $82 + $15 (for the optional course) = 97 per person before the 30% discount. It’s pretty reasonable for a deg, but at the same time I’d be surprised if the price went above $100. I don’t want to sound a bit posh, but generally only hatted restaurants can get away with charging $100+ prices due to the sometimes-deserved accolades the GFG awards them.

Still, $68pp was pretty awesome from a price perspective. Let’s see how the food fares.

Bistro Lilly Amuse Bouche - pacific oysters served with peanut nam jam, crisp vermicelli (1) and blood orange gel, lime & salmon caviar (2)

Amuse Bouche – pacific oysters served with peanut nam jam, crisp vermicelli (1) and blood orange gel, lime & salmon caviar (2)

Our amuse bouche comes in the form of pacific oysters which are served with two different types of sauce.

  • Overall, these oysters were very nice – there’s a trace of that ocean flavour, but it isn’t the stinky type. +1 to the restaurants that get this right
  • I didn’t taste any kind of gritty waste which is good – cleanly shucked to eat
  • (1) I have no idea what nam jam is, but it did a good job of taking the oyster (on the left) to another level. The vermicelli added a pleasantly surprising crunch, somewhat compensating for the slipperiness of the oyster flesh
  • (2) the blood orange gel was awesome. Strong and sharp, with a hint of sweet tang, it’s a natural accompaniment to the oyster
Bistro Lilly oysters

Another angle – left is the blood orange, right is the peanut nam

Bistro Lilly Optional course - snapper ceviche, pickled carrots, horseradish, chorizo & congo chips

Optional course – snapper ceviche, pickled carrots, horseradish, chorizo & congo chips

Our optional course (for $15) is the snapper ceviche w/chorizo & vegetables. Man you know a restaurant’s pretty crazy when you’re putting in the chorizo with your traditionally conservative raw fish.

  • The snapper was very tough and dry, I don’t think this is how snapper is meant to be, and wasn’t happy with it. 
  • On the other hand, the chorizo was very good with plenty of flavour
  • Loved the texture of the veggies – when you have just fish (that isn’t sashimi), having this kind of textura compensation is crucial
  • The overall flavour of the dish was quite sour

If only the snapper was up to scratch…

Bistro Lilly Pan seared Canadian scallops, crispy duck, pear greens, peking vinigrette

Pan seared Canadian scallops, crispy duck, pear greens, peking vinigrette

Second up we have some pan seared Canadian scallops which, interestingly enough, are served with duck.

  • The scallops themselves were very satisfying. Juicy and firm, the searing was very well done
  • Crunchy textures were provided by the pear greens. They had a sweet flavour to them that was somewhat like celtuce
  • The duck is an awesome addition and could technically make its own dish. Very flavoursome stuff, but it was not crispy at all despite the advertisement
  • The mash – a very nice touch and is essentially a bonding agent between the elements of the dish. That’s clever

Overall, an impressive dish.

Bistro Lilly scallops

There’s a bit of mash underneath as well.

Bistro Lilly Butternut pumpkin croquette, waldorf salad, truffle oil & cress

Butternut pumpkin croquette, waldorf salad, truffle oil & cress

This butternut pumpkin croquette is definitely a unique dish I haven’t had before. I should have seen it coming though since this is a great way to serve pumpkin.

  • The croquette itself is very crunchy and sweet. You can definitely taste the nutty flavours in there.
  • Waldorf salad is a salad that’s made out of apples and walnuts. The apples, thankfully are sweet (god I can’t stand a sour Granny Smith) and works well with the truffle oil

I wanted more of this dish after I had finished it – it’s just so addictive, that croquette.

Bistro Lilly pumpkin croquette

Bistro Lilly Pan seared duck livers on brioche w/foie gras butter, pancetta & fig jam

Pan seared duck livers on brioche w/foie gras butter, pancetta & fig jam

Oh man, when you see duck liver, brioche w/foie gras &  pancetta in the same dish you know it’s going to be something powerfully rich.

  • The liver is…exactly like liver. I didn’t like it that much since I always find liver a bit too dry and grainy in its texture, and leaves an odd aftertaste that I just have to wash down with something else.
  • The brioche is naturally awesome – hooray for brioche bias!
  • Crispiness is delivered by the pancetta. It was crispy almost to a fault actually – it crumbled apart very easily, and some places were actually charred to the point where it may as well be charred carbon.
  • The foie gras butter is basically creamy foie gras. Rich & powerful, it binds the dish together.

Overall, I didn’t like it too much as I don’t think all aspects were up to scratch, but there were elements I enjoyed.

Bistro Lilly duck liver & foie gras

More brioche please?

Bistro Lilly Char grilled

Char grilled “riverine” MBS4+ short rib, cauliflower “kim chi”, green beans, toasted sesame

Our main is an expected cut of char grilled short rib w/accompanying veggies. You already saw the part about the cauliflower “kim chi”. Oh yes, I was curious about that too.

  • The steak itself is probably the worst part of the dish. It was so tough, sinewy and veiny. There were a few good pieces, but overall it was a huge letdown. My parents gave me half of their respective plates to me so I essentially ate double. I don’t like to waste food so I still ate it but…I really didn’t want to.
  • The sauce on the other hand is quite nice – it’s really the texture of the steak that pretty much killed it
  • Cauliflower kim chi – well, it tasted a bit like kim chi I suppose. The overall flavour is very gingery. I found it to be quite inconsistent though – if you didn’t eat parts with the ginger you’d get almost no flavour, otherwise you get a powerful burst of flavour.
  • The green beans were alright – no real comments needed

Oh man, I really wished that steak were better. It pretty much killed my experience 🙁

Bistro Lilly Dessert 1 - salted caramel & Belgian chocolate tart w/pistachio ice cream & gel

Dessert 1 – salted caramel & Belgian chocolate tart w/pistachio ice cream & gel

Bistro Lilly allows you to choose one of two desserts to finish off your meal. The first of such is the salted caramel & Belgian chocolate tart w/ice cream.

  • The pistachio ice cream was superlative. Sure, my parents complained about the actual pieces of pistachio in the ice cream, but I found that to be a pretty good textural addition. The ice cream is creamy, soft and you can definitely taste all of the flavours.
  • The chocolate tart had a very, VERY hard shell that took real effort to get through. I wasn’t too impressed by that.
  • On the inside, the story changes – the salted caramel just doesn’t do wrong.
  • The floss is a nice touch, but doesn’t really integrate with any part of the dish.

Overall a little understated, but a pretty good dessert.

Bistro Lilly Coconut & palm sugar crème brûlée w/grilled pineapple

Coconut & palm sugar crème brûlée w/grilled pineapple

Our second dessert, as expected of a French restaurant, is a crème brûlée, served with grilled pineapple. That was an unusual surprise, but a pleasant one.

  • The crème brûlée is standard. It’s good, and in line with many I’ve had before. Nothing wrong with it really, it just didn’t elevate itself above many of the others I’ve had. I gotta say the custard was kind of underwhelming.
  • What made this dessert interesting is the pineapple. It’s delicious! There was some kind of caramelisation going on because there was a bit of a crispy crunch to the pineapple, and it was just a treat. Candy made like this would sell very well that’s for sure.
Bistro Lilly dessert

That pineapple…yum!

Well that wraps it up. Overall, Bistro Lilly has a really strange way of cooking things that’s extremely inconsistent in my view. Some dishes were good, but those numbered too few, and within every dish there were flaws that were just…surprising. I’m hesitant to recommend it if you’re going to go and pay full price…but that’s my view. Maybe on your visit, you won’t get a failure of a steak. Maybe.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀

The Good: dessert was done well, several dishes contained impressively surprising elements

What could be improved: most dishes required reworking (see blog body for details)

I give Bistro Lilly a grand total of  five Caesars out of ten – 5/10

Bistro Lilly on Urbanspoon

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