With an impromptu reservation I found myself dining at Ad Lib Bistro in Pymble on a Monday evening. Recommended by a fellow foodie, it was described to me as fanastic French fare that is reasonably priced for a one hat restaurant. As a result of this recommendation, Ad Lib Bistro was in the pipeline for quite some time and when we eventually made our way through the doors I noted that even for a Monday it was almost filled.
Hmmm… a sign of good things to come I hope!
We ordered the truffled potato and leek soup which was the soup of the day. Now, I am normally not one to order soup but my fellow diner is a regular soup whore, who is incapable of resisting the prospect of soup, so I played the submissive role (for once) and did what I was told! To my pleasant surprise, I could smell the soup on arrival. I could almost taste it. The waft of truffles completely infiltrated my lungs and I could not help but sniff away at the bowl even though, it really wasn’t mine to sniff at.
After a considerable amount of displays of yearning for truffled soup, my fellow counterpart finally relented and I was given a taste. WOW… this soup was absolutely outstanding. The soup was silky smooth with that lovely creamy truffle aftertaste lathering you with nothing but dreamy truffle love. A spoonful was enough to make me “O”.
With the promise of raw red flesh of an eye fillet and a sacrificial egg yolk for the taking, I simply could not resist the temptation of the steak tartare. When served the dish I noted how tiny the egg yolk was. Let’s just say, a 10 cents piece worth so it was very cute. I was later told it was a quail egg. Hmmm…
The steak tartare was delicious and prepared to perfection. The eye fillet was minced by the blade of the knife so finely that when it met your tongue, it touched you like a fine meat paste should and it had that lovely zesty kick known and loved to be expected from your authentic steak tartare. Oh why had I not ordered the large?! And if you are wondering, the raw quail egg tasted no different to your regular egg yolk.
With soup deeply engrained on our short-term memory, we decided to quickly squeeze in another soup before our mains arrived. Even after our second bowl, we still longed for another serve because it was just so delicious. We decided against it though, as we thought it best we stop while we were ahead before we risk embarrassing ourselves!
The fricasse of chicken, prawns, shallots, mushrooms & quail eggs looked very inviting with the crisp puffy exterior, however looks were very deceiving. I personally did not like the melding of chicken and prawn flavours. I found that the prawns overwhelmed the flavour of filling and found the quail egg a peculiar addition to the dish. The egg was like a densely soaked version of the liquid filling which intensified the flavours that we were not fond of to begin with.
I found the cauliflower gratin was fairly tasty. I loved the appearance and taste of the burnt crunch formed by the cheese bubbling on the surface. I had only wished there was more cheese for me to sink my teeth into. I also secretly wished that the filling was actually potato nevertheless, the dish was very tasty.
I can say with complete sincerity that the mussels with champagne, cream and leek sauce were the best mussels I have ever had in my entire life. If you are a mussels fan, you need to try these. The sauce had that similar velvety smooth silk finish of the soup but the champagne gave it that extra lift and added dimension.
I have never had champagne served in a dish before. I have been fortunate enough to have had champagne sorbet, a champagne vinagrette dressing, even cheese washed in champagne before, but never in a main! So I was thrilled to discover that it was equally as delicious, if not more, than my previous champagne concoctions.
I loved the sauce so much that I decided to turn my meal into a soup by removing all the mussels from its shell. There I was, left with my spoon, my big pot filled with mussels and cream sauce-turned-soup, drinking it and spooning it until I drained it of every last drop.
Days after my Ad Lib rendezvous, I was proud to share my champagne revelation with my co-worker, where she responded coolly,
“Didn’t you know? Champagne is a great substitute for white wine dishes”.
“I use left over flat bubbly for creamy pasta dishes all the time and they turn out delicious!”
Feeling robbed of my new found foodie find I still manage to make note to self – I must try that one day…
Apart from the chicken fricassee, the food was absolutely delicious and excellent value for money. There was enough on the menu to make me long for a bottomless pit for a stomach and for me to come back for more. And with soup and mussels like that, who wouldn’t?
Welcome to Ad Lib Bistro, for fantastic French fare.
1047 Pacific Highway
Pymble NSW 2073
Contact: (02) 9988 0120