Tastevin is one of those restaurants that I’ve walked past time and time again, each time making a mental note to myself to go there but never actually getting around to do it. After passing it several times (and exasperating Sir D with my repeated comments about wanting to eat there), I finally made a booking. This time, instead of walking past the inconspicuous door, we opened it and traipsed up the stairs into a quaint little French bistro.
It was still early on a Friday night and we were the first to arrive at the restaurant. There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to try, so we decided to get a starter, two entrees, a main and a dessert. Our waiter was friendly and chatty, and when we told him that we were sharing all the dishes, he was more than happy to have the kitchen bring them out one by one so we could savour each dish one at a time.
We started with the house made bread with French butter. A basket filled generously with bread was brought to the table along with some olive oil and balsamic and a stick of French butter wrapped in a silver foil. The butter was a bit too cold when first brought out, making it difficult to spread, but after a while it warmed up and was a lightly salted, creamy spread for the two types of bread that we were provided with. One was a plain white baguette, which had a bit of a chewy crust, and the other which we both preferred had fennel and poppy seeds and a nice crunchy crust.
The first entree to be brought out was the gnocchi à la Parisienne. Instead of your usual potato gnocchi, these gnocchi are made from choux pastry and are poached in water to cook them. They’re lighter and fluffier compared to their Italian counterparts and beautiful with the mushrooms and cheesy white truffle mornay. The earthy, pungent truffle flavour is subtle but present in the dish. I almost wish I’d ordered the main size of the gnocchi because it is so delicious!
Both Sir D and I are total pastry fiends so we can’t pass up the offer of snails pithivier on the menu. Inside the dome of puff pastry are the snails which are tender and moreish, especially with the parsley and garlic butter. The parsnip puree lends some creaminess to the dish and the curls of parsnip leaning on the pithivier are like chips – crunchy and addictive!
For the main course we go with the special main of the day which is a pan-seared silver dory fillet on a mushroom duxelle tart fine, Jerusalem artichokes and a duck and chicken jus. They have kindly divided up this dish in half so that we each get a plate with half the portion on it. The fish is mostly soft and flaky except for some of the parts at the edges which are a bit chewy. The tart fine tastes much the same as the snails Pithivier which is what you get for ordering two pastry dishes I suppose. Not that I’m complaining though because the pastry is still flaky and light. By this stage I am getting quite full from the richness of the dishes and I’m glad I didn’t order the main size gnocchi because of the dessert.
Which includes FIRE!
Yes, I couldn’t resist the theatricality of the crepes Suzette in which a Grand Marnier sauce is poured over the crepes and set alight at the table. The fire stayed alight for quite a while as well which makes me wonder how much alcohol they put in it…
But anyway, the crepes are folded into neat little triangles and drenched in the Grand Marnier sauce which has the sweetness of oranges and also a slight bitterness. The vanilla ice cream is flecked with vanilla bean and helps to overcome some of the bitterness of the Grand Marnier. Sir D doesn’t particularly take to the orange flavour but I love the layers of crepes with the orange-flavoured sauce. And I like the fire too hehe
As we’re finishing off our dinner the dining area has become full with other diners who are chatting away and enjoying a nice meal. I spy some other enticing looking dishes that other diners have ordered and wish that I had the stomach space to try them. I know I will probably say it again and again before it happens but I will definitely be back one day to sample more of their menu!
Tastevin Bistro and Wine Bar
Level 1, 292-294 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9356 3429
Open for lunch from 12pm, Thursday to Sunday
Open for dinner from 5pm, Monday and Wednesday to Sunday