Bistro Moncur Woollahra
Since opening in 1993, Bistro Moncur has maintained its place in the upper echelons of Sydney dining.
Chef Damien Pignolet was the project’s original star. These days the kitchen is overseen by Ben Varela, group chef at Public House Management Group. It also owns Moncur Mosman and a number of other venues around Sydney.
The dinner menu rarely exceeds 25 entries, including entrées, mains, sides and desserts. The focus here is on doing a few things well, with barely a share plate in sight.
To start there are dishes such as Provençal fish soup with rouille and croutons, or blue swimmer crab and sweet-corn omelette with beurre noisette. Mains are more single-minded, consisting of quality fish and meat presented sparingly, perhaps with a pinot-noir reduction; sorrel and mint puree; or béarnaise sauce.
As you’d expect, the wine list reads like a novel. It’s stacked with old-world and Australian options by the glass, half-bottle and bottle. What’s most impressive is the range. You can score a local bottle for $50, or sink $1000 on Cristal or a 20-year-old Grange.
Attentive service and starched table linen makes for a sophisticated breakfast, lunch or dinner beneath the tunnel of the arched wooden ceiling. A bold black-and-white mural of diners, by Michael Fitzjames, stretches the length of the dining room, creating a hint of 1930s chic.
Moncur is a classic-enough institution to be untroubled by the passing of time and trends – which is a good thing given that prices are at the upper end of the scale.