Ad Lib, Pymble

1047 Pacific Highway, Pymble

I’ve been living in Turramurra on and off for several months. It’s a lovely leafy area, but seriously lacks good eating, so when Ad Lib opened in the immediate area it was like an oasis in the desert and had to be tried.

It’s a good old (but modern) french bistro – the sort of place which is perfect for a weeknight meal when the idea of cooking is too much to bear. It’s going to be very successful in this neighbourhood I think…

The restaurant has a great feel about it, as every bistro should – buzzy, loud and a touch frenetic. Service is unsually enthusiastic and you can’t help but know you’re going to have an enjoyable evening.

We start with coffin bay oysters, which are deliciously creamy without the huge hit of iodine. My kind of oyster.

I take the unusual step of starting with goats cheese tarte, which is as we all know a quiche, but written in a way which is easier for men to order. It’s oniony without the heavy-handedness of too much cheese. It’s actually pretty light.

The wife goes for onion soup. This is all about the beef stock and it’s deep, sweet and harmonious. The sort of dish that only comes from long slow cooking. Clearly it’s not exactly difficult to do a good onion soup, it just takes the application of a time and a bit of love. But it’s surprising how a lot of places, try and cut corners.

She follows up with a good tranche of fish on a bit of potato puree (which is clearly why she chose it..) It’s a confident and simple dish. It’s what good bistro cooking is all about. It goes down well.

I (clearly making up for ordering the quiche) go for the steak tartare. It’s a favourite. Again not a complex dish, but requires good ingredients and a bit of attention. It’s well mixed with a nice hit of tabasco. The only downer (if I recall correctly) is the lack of frites… This is criminal. Tartare, frites & a glass of brouilly is the proper combination.  Looking at the menu now, this has not been rectified, thank goodness.

Instead of the absent frites we opt for a recommended cauliflower gratin. It’s the only let down of the meal. The gratin is gloopy and hasn’t become as one with with the cauliflower. It’s more cream than is strictly necessary without savouriness of cheese (wow, can’t believe I said that).

We skip dessert, since it’s a school night, but are nicely satisfied with our meal. The place is still hectic as we leave and we know we’ll be back. Every neighbourhood needs a place like this. It’s just sods law that we’ve since moved away from the area…. We’ll just have to find an excuse to be back in the neighbourhood.


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