With so many new big-ticket, fine dining restaurants opening at The Star, and a casino floor filled with poker machines, roulette and blackjack, it’s easy to think that a night at The Star will burn a hole in your wallet. A visit to Bistro 80 proved that this doesn’t have to be the case.
Still retaining some of the decor from its predecessor, Sean’s Kitchen, Bistro 80 is now headed up by Paul Gaspa serving simple, bistro-style dishes at prices that won’t make your jaw drop.
It also helps that there is a bar right next door which means there is no excuse to order a pre-dinner cocktail! I opt for the Remy’s Delight, mainly because I see that there is moscato in it heh. The four types of liquor in this cocktail ensures that it packs a punch but aside from the slight burning, the flavour is citrussy and refreshing from the lime and passionfruit.
Tequila-lover Sir D can’t got past the Tequila Smash, which is made using reposado (aged) tequila, vanilla and cinnamon syrup and smashed seasonal fruits. Tonight’s fruits are an interesting combination of kiwifruit and blood orange.
At Bistro 80, there is the option of ordering fresh seafood from “The Ocean Shelf”, some of which is proudly displayed on ice in front of the open kitchen. It includes lobsters, king prawns, moreton bay bugs, Alaskan king crab and oysters, however we forego the ocean’s offerings in favour of something a little more meaty.
We choose two starters to share amongst us, beginning with a charcuterie platter containing three types of Iberico jamon plus pickled onions and cornichons. Even Sir D, who normally doesn’t enjoy charcuterie, admits that the paper-thin slices of jamon which are ribboned with fat are delicious.
The other starter is a confit duck salad. It is a salad plentiful with shredded duck meat as well as crisp batons of apple, bitter chicory leaves, crunchy hazelnuts and a port vinaigrette dressing. All the flavours tie well together and leave us wanting more.
For the main dishes, there is a selection of fish and meat mains as well as a section for pastas and risottos. The wild river barramundi is served pan fried with a crispy skin, and swims in a pool of a bouillabaisse-style sauce. A prawn sits proudly on top with a garnish of tomato and herbs.
The risotto was a surprisingly large serving with chunks of spanner crab and baby herbs scattered over the surface. The risotto was flavoured with sweetcorn which was a nice pairing with the delicate crab meat. This came a close second to being my favourite dish of the night.
It was the pot roasted chicken that won me over that night. It arrived as half chicken served with a rich morel and madeira sauce, with lyonnaise potatoes hiding underneath. The chicken was flavoursome and succulent, and it surprised me that it was cooked so perfectly, with none of the meat being dry.
A grill section on the menu is dedicated to steaks, which are all served with bearnaise sauce, veal jus and a selection of mustards. It’s nice to see that the steak isn’t lonely on the plate by itself, with some salad greens and tomato as well as the sauces to accompany it.
I choose the potato gnocchi with sauteed mushrooms and smoked Sam Simon cheese. The cheese is half-melted on top of a pile of gnocchi but sadly it’s not as smoky as I’d hoped. The gnocchi are good though, being light and fluffy, and the spinach and cherry tomatoes help avoid a feeling of stodgyness when eating the dish. There’s just a little too much on the plate though, as I struggle to even make a dent in it. It’s like a neverending bowl of gnocchi!
As if there wasn’t enough food already with the large serving sizes, we ordered two sides just to make sure we were absolutely stuffed! The honey buttered organic carrots were sweet and buttery, and I loved the breadcrumbs and crumbled egg with the broccolini. We were way too full to fit in any dessert but it’s nice to know that there is some great food to be had at The Star without breaking the bank!
Level 2, Astral Tower
80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Ph: 1800 700 700
Lunch: Saturday & Sunday, 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Monday & Tuesday, 6-10pm; Wednesday & Thursday, 5.30-10pm; Friday & Saturday, 5.30-11pm; Sunday, 5.30-10pm