Last Wednesday TVG was invited to attend Duke Bistro to sample the new spring menu from new head chef Nik Hill. Hailing from The Ledbury in London, Nik is considered one of Australia’s top chefs and is renowned for his ‘bistronomy’ style. Nik’s menu is 100% seasonal which means nothing out of season is on it – so you know its fresh and sourced properly. Nik’s style matches Duke Bistro perfectly, it’s homely, interesting and not trying to be anything it’s not, which is exactly what I thought of the restaurant when we walked in. The Duke is a quaint setting, cosy and welcoming, there’s a great sense of atmosphere, which I find ultra modern restaurants have a hard time trying to achieve.
We kicked off the night with a lovely spring cocktail called The Borough Beauty, a gin based watermelon concoction, which was gone before I had it in my hand. There’s a common problem I experience at events, the organisers drop the ball on the booze – thankfully this was not one of those occasions because after my delicious cocktail I sampled two outstanding wines from the Duke’s hefty wine list. The first was a Gewurztraminer – The Salvation by Magpie Estate, which won me over instantly and suited the introductory Salmon dish perfectly. The most interesting thing about the spring menu at the Duke Bistro is how it dabbles with simplicity. Peas and parmesan, asparagus on toast and lamb with broad beans are finished with delicate touches like walnut oil, hazelnut vinaigrette and ewes milk letting the quality of the produce do the talking.
A 2010 Eden Valley Shiraz ‘Oiseau et Renard’ filled our glass as the larger dishes came out and to be honest I don’t think it emptied all night, I couldn’t stop drinking it. Throughout the night we shared a selection of dishes and I definitely think it suited the style of food, I can see Duke Bistro as a great place for a group of 4 sharing a bunch of dishes and a suitable bottle of wine chosen from an array of exotic regions. I was told on the night that deserts wasn’t Nik’s preferred art form, something I found hard to believe because I couldn’t have been more impressed. The chocolate tart was one of the nicest I’ve eaten and the lemon curd with whipped cream served in a jar was quite spectacular also. To cap it all off the table was presented with hundreds of tiny donuts served in old Arnott’s biscut tins, a deadly end to the night.