Stylishly laidback Aussie eatery Bronte makes its mark on the Greenwood stretch.
The waiters at Greenwood neighbourhood newbie Bronte are exceptionally tall (and young). And perhaps it is their remarkable height—and youth—that boosts their ability to move swiftly about the often-crowded white-brick-walled dining room. On Saturday evenings, these waiters (and the restaurant’s acoustics) are tested to their limits by the largely Australian clientele, all brimming with that bright Aussie verve. Word of advice: If you want a Saturday night dinner where you can hear yourselves, ask for a seat outside.
And if you haven’t already guessed, Bronte—named after the Sydney beachside suburb—is an Aussie restaurant helmed by chef-in-residence Justin Wong. The 33-year-old was born in Malaysia and lived most of his life in Australia where he cut his teeth under well-known culinary names like Luke Mangan.
His is a lean menu of about six starters, five mains, three steaks and a handful of desserts. And given such a tight selection, the expectation is that each dish should be done impeccably well. In that respect, Wong doesn’t disappoint.
Particularly good are the steaks. A 200-day grain-fed Stockyard sirloin from Queensland ($38 for 250g) had a wonderfully acrid char that buckled down to the knife to unravel richness and depth. It was even better than the more expensive 300-day grain fed Rangers Valley ribeye ($48 for 250g), which though an above-average slab of meat, lacked the nuance and resonance of the Stockyard.
Clichéd as it sounds when describing fine Aussie fare, the flavours here are all bright, fresh and light. A starter of tomato soup ($12) gains complexity with the addition of smoked spice. A Portobello mushroom and baby spinach salad ($18) is deftly dressed in balsamic and oil and softened with a mild and creamy goat’s cheese. There is a remarkably tender and crisp salt and pepper squid ($16) served with lime aioli.
The starter portions are ample, which is great for sharing before tucking into mains like a robust braised beef cheeks ($34) cooked bourguignon-style or a succulent pan-fried barramundi ($28) with snow peas and tomato salsa.
If I had one gripe, it was the rather rustic-textured mashed potatoes—just a few chunks shy of a potato salad. It’s the kind of love-it-or-hate-it dish with absolutely no in-between. You either love it because it reminds you of the best mashed potatoes your Asian mother ever made or hate it because it’s not rich, smooth and satiny like how Joel Robuchon makes it.
The restaurant has only been open for about four months now, and it is already packed to the gills on weekends at dinner and brunch, when it serves simple, homey eats like a bacon and egg roll with HP sauce ($11) and grilled sirloin steak sandwiches ($18). So call in advance to reserve a seat if you don’t live around the corner.
8 Greenwood Avenue
Tel: 6219 9151
Monday to Friday 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am to 3pm, 6pm to 10.30pm
An edited version of this article was published in TODAY on 22 April 2011
Photos courtesy of Bronte