Pistou is a wine bar and deli inspired by the region of Provence, in the south of France. Owner Jules Bouillon was born and raised in Provence. He previously managed North Sydney’s Glorietta and Barangaroo’s Nola, and when legendary New York restaurant Balthazar launched an outpost in London, he was part of the opening team.
He says his aim when opening Pistou – the name of a condiment from the south of France that’s much like pesto – was to offer locals somewhere to come for a full lunch or dinner experience, or just stop by for a glass of wine and some cheese and charcuterie. While it’s heavily steeped in Provençal dining, Bouillon says influences from other Mediterranean countries – mainly Spain and Italy – are in the mix as well.
Bouillon and chef Kate Morris, who was founding head chef at Glorietta, work with small producers and farmers to put together the frequently changing food menu. One week you might snack on pickled octopus with pistou sauce and borlotti beans, the next you might enjoy braised fennel with burrata and walnuts. There are always several cheese and charcuterie options on the menu; you can choose individually or go the whole hog and order the $42 Pistou Plate – a huge serving of meats, cheeses, bread, crackers, dips, pickles and olives that’s easily a meal for two in itself. The meats and cheeses are also available to take away.
Pick-and-mix brunch plates are the go on weekends. For $19 choose a protein (options include poached eggs, gravlax and Pino’s smoked ham), two veggies and two condiments (including tapenade and garlic confit). Add a Bloody Mary or opt for a Loggerhead coffee.
The drinks list is just as tightly curated. There are only three cocktails, and none of them requires a shaker. There’s a spritz, a “short and strong” cocktail and a “tall and refreshing” number, all of which change at least weekly. But there is a strong focus on aperitifs and digestifs (“We don’t really drink cocktails in France, we will drink an aperitif or digestif somewhere local”), mainly from France and Italy. The wine list leans Aussie and natural, and Bouillon sources only from small producers. Like everything else, it changes with the seasons, with more chilled reds in summer and heavier drops in the cooler months.
The space, designed by Amy McLeod, is warm and inviting: clusters of dried chillis and herbs hang from the musk-pink walls, one of which is lined with 100-year-old tiles from Turkey – a common design feature in Provence – and there’s potted basil in the front window.