Friday, June 14, 2013

Le Pub, Sydney

Descend a flight of stairs at the corner of King and Kent Streets and enter Le Pub - a busy French bistro-style pub – perfect for a work lunch.

Head underground to Le Pub for respite from the rat race
Despite the bistro-style furnishings it is still very much a pub. There’s a pokie room and huge plasma screens blasting sports right through lunch. But there’s also little nooks in which to hide and make share office gossip, should the mood take you that direction. 

Le Pub's nooks are cones of silence for debriefs on the week's office gossip
A velvet, burgundy-and-brown-striped banquette snakes around the room. Generously-sized wooden chairs and stools upholstered in turquoise velvet were a pleasure to look at after a morning staring at computer screens. The interior designer seems to love tiles. I’m not sure if these were a relic from Le Pub’s previous incarnation as Irish pub PJ O'Gallaghers, but they were everywhere from the black and white mosaic floor, to the scrabble-style white alphabet tiles above diners’ heads to the completely black-tiled bathroom (studded with replica gas lights). I would have liked some french tunes, but they may have been there under the Friday lunch-crowd din. The soft furnishings helped to absorb the noise and we had no trouble catching up on the week's events and weekend plans over our lunch.  

No shortage of seats at Le Pub for corporate derrieres
This underground pub won 3 schooners in the 2013 Good Pub Food Guide. The menu, created by Executive Chef Ronny Ghantous (ex-Union Hotel, North Sydney) features French favourites like escargot ($15), french onion soup ($14) and duck confit ($26). 

Brass corners to protect from nasty table-corner injuries
I was drawn to the Beef Bourginon Pie ($24), served with a side of Paris Mash, but as I was at the end of a week-long detox I wanted something a bit lighter.

Twice-cooked soufflé with gruyere, chevre and walnut crostini ($22)
The twice cooked soufflé with gruyere, chevre and walnut crostini ($22) was less fluffy than I had imagined. To be fair, the last soufflé I had was at the Boathouse in Blackwattle Bay, so my expectations may have been misplaced. The baked top had just the right consistency and has helped me delay a trip to Pasticceria Papa for baked ricotta cheesecake by a few weeks. The microherbs seemed to miss out on a light vinaigrette dressing, the sort that has me scouring friend’s plates for any tender greens left behind. The crostini complimented the soufflé, but I would have liked one more. 
Onion Rings ($9)
Instead I got stuck into the detox-be-damned-onion rings ($9), which were more batter than onion but the sort of fried tasty treat that you somehow justify in Friday lunches. Lucky for me, my only meeting later that day was with my team. As we all had onion rings together I wasn’t worried about single-handedly fumigating any meeting rooms with onion breath back in the office.

Steak Frites ($23)
Two colleagues ordered the steak frites ($23) with their choice of sauce (Peppercorn, Bearnaise, Café de Paris or Mushroom). By all accounts the steak was cooked perfectly to order. The chips had the right amount of crunch, without being too oily.

Warm chicken salad with avocado, almonds, feta, compressed watermelon, eschallot and strodolo leaves ($24)
I had meal envy over my colleague’s warm chicken salad with avocado, almonds, feta, compressed watermelon, eschallot and strodolo leaves ($24). We were both curious about the compressed watermelon. It glistened like a slab of fatty tuna and tasted like . . . compressed watermelon. It balanced nicely with the feta. If I could choose again I think I would have liked that.

The Friday lunch crowd kept staff busy yesterday – but the service was fast and friendly. We weren’t kept waiting for long at any stage.

Bathroom 'graffiti' - could be the meaning of life, but knowing the French is more likely to be something witty, sarcastic or both.
I’d take a French friend there to get them to translate the bathroom ‘graffiti’, which may actually be very profound. But I’d be curious to see whether the food makes them homesick. I’ll add it into the rotation of places to go for a work lunch, but with so many CBD lunch venues to choose from it may be a while before I return. 

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