11 February 2012

Bird Cow Fish: Last suppers at the bistro, Surry Hills (9 Feb 2012)

500 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 9380 4090
LAST SUPPER 11 February 2012 before closing

Blogger Journalist Twitter

After 23 years as a chef, Alex has decided it’s time for a new focus, beyond the daily grind of the kitchen and running a busy restaurant. Family comes first. Classics such as her prawn gnocchi, the seared hanger steak with a sweet & sour veal jus, the beef cheek pie and of course the chocolate tart will be on this last menu.

There’s nothing quite like a restaurant closing to make you spontaneously try and book a table, especially when it’s on your wish list due to enjoying the chef’s Regal King Salmon & Potato Fishcakes at Taste of Sydney. I thought my request for a table for two just days from closing would be futile but a tweet confirmation and phone back to Howard made it all good to go — except I still hadn’t organised someone to go with. With only a couple of hours notice my friends and fellow bloggers already had plans. At around 6 pm I was totally convinced I’d be dining solo until I caught a tweet from one Karen Lateo (The Week Magazine) saying “@SimonLeong I'm free and in Surry Hills...but I don't know you, Simon!! You don't want dinner with a stranger, do you?? @birdcowfish”. I thought why not with a bonus advantage of trying more dishes. Arriving at 6.40 pm for the restaurants 6.30 pm first sitting I met Karen chatting with Chef Alex Herbert about the unusual circumstances of the dinner meetup made possible so quickly through Twitter.

Karen had dined at Bird Cow Fish once before and already had her mind set on the Seared Coorong hanger steak ($35.50) with bold flavours and a richly supportive jus — thankfully she was kind enough to share. Not known for being tender the chefs competent skills in cooking the hanger steak did the meat justice. Being a lover of nose to tail cooking the Sautéed Barossa chicken livers ($18.50) was another easy choice for Karen. The richly flavoured ingredients were joyously combined with a runny poached egg and worked well as a dish. My Potato gnocchi with prawn meat ($20.50) was sautéed in burnt butter, verjuice, capers & crispy sage. I was impressed how the gnocchi kept its shape while having the consistency of a slightly firm mash potato. My Beef Cheek Pie ($35.50) had excellent flakey pastry as hoped. The very tender meat had a good depth of flavour with noticeable wine on the palate although I’m glad we ordered the Steamed greens ($8.50) to help cut through the richness of the filling. Perhaps a side of minted pea mash would have also complimented well.

With no vanilla ice cream available my request for an affogato could not be catered for although the silver lining was probably best for my stomach to have the Penelope Sach Organic Herbal Peppermint Tea ($3.80). Two people meant two desserts of course. Karen’s Cherry mille feuille ($15.50) had good flaky pastry and plump cherries that worked well in the dish but its very delicate construction quickly found the power of gravity wins in the end. I ordered the Chocolate tart ($15.50) only because it was mentioned as a signature dish but feared it would be very rich and heavy and thus sending my stomach over the edge in a bad way. Thankfully its super thin pastry and surprisingly light yet richly flavoured chocolate was very enjoyable. I wondered if some slithers of candied orange on top would have helped cut through the chocolate a bit more and add an extra taste dimension plus my preference would have probably been either whipped cream or ice cream rather than the runny cream which had trouble sticking to the chocolate dust on top.

I wish Chef Alex Herbert all the very best in her future endeavours and may the soul of her food find a path to new beginnings for the enjoyment of others.

PROS: Quality ingredients, Interesting menu, Tasty dishes, Nice decor and buzzing ambience, Howard had a very pleasant and accommodating phone manner
CONS: A bit expensive but seemed worth it for the quality, Didn't like the table support positioning and table tops were a bit smallish so felt a little cramped, Service was a little absent at the start but improved later in the night, The restaurant is unfortunately closing, No affogato
MUST TRY: Chocolate tart, Seared Coorong hanger steak

Hepburn Springs Sparkling Mineral Water ($8)

Blue Cow Mule cocktail including Hendrick's Gin ($18)

Sonoma sourdough baguette with Pepe Saya cultured butter ($2.50 per person)

Sautéed Barossa chicken livers, smokey pancetta, pangrattato, bitter leaves & a poached egg ($18.50)

Potato gnocchi with prawn meat sautéed in burnt butter, verjuice, capers & crispy sage ($20.50)

Seared Coorong hanger steak, sweet & sour garlic, anchovy, oregano, raisin & veal jus sauce ($35.50)

Beef Cheek Pie ($35.50)

Steamed greens ($8.50)

Short black ($3)

Penelope Sach Organic Herbal Peppermint Tea ($3.80) — unfortunately an affogato was not available because no vanilla ice cream

Cherry mille feuille with mascarpone & pistachio praline ($15.50) — so delicately balanced it fell over very easily

Chocolate tart with cream ($15.50)

Pouring the cream — although I might have preferred whipped cream or ice cream

The chocolate dust repels the cream — I wondered if I would have preferred a freshly whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream instead

Good, simple, delicious menu philosophy

Bill $183.30 for two

Me and Chef Alex Herbert

Front dining area

Back dining area

Aesops and Scented Space Fragrance Diffuser Olive Leaf in the toilet — so Surry Hills

SMH Good Food Guide Awards 2011 One Chef's Hat

Table supports not quite to my liking for comfortable foot placement and tables were a bit on the smallish side — and how did that green bean get on the floor?


Vivian - vxdollface said...

cant believe i missed out on that mille feuille :(

penny aka jeroxie said...

Shame that it is closed for good now. I guess I just need to visit eveleigh more often now.

Miss Kimbers said...

Oh I've missed out forever now:( I was going to to there one night for tea, but they were renovating it or something...or moving things...I don't know.
It looks like such a cosy restaurant inside.

Unknown said...

So sad that I didn't get to try out this place before it closed =( Their desserts look so good too!

Richard Elliot said...

Looks like a great meal. A shame I couldn't make it and now won't be able to try it!

Do you think it was good value or a little on the expensive side? $35 for a pie when it doesn't come with any accompanyments (e.g. nice salad on the side) seems expensive to me.

Kerancia said...

oh no, how sad that's its taking its last bow. I heard that Chef Alex will be concentrating more on the growers' market circuit. Simon, nice post for this restaurant's last supper - respect.

Unknown said...

We managed to get in on Friday night. So much of the menu sounded good. Had to go with the pie because of the pastry.

Unfortunately we were too full for dessert :(

The mille fuille looks fantastic.

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

So sad to see that the doors have no closed, but I am thankful I got the chance to go! IT is an amazing place and bird cow fish will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Con: No Affogato??? It sounds like it wasn't on the menu, so how could that be a con? Did you ask if they could make you a pizza as well because you wanted it? Put the camera away and enjoy the food.

Anonymous said...

Why review a closing down restaurant?? You fool.

Simon Leong said...

hi vivian, you never know what the future will bring. i'm hoping a small cafe with her desserts on show — wishful thinking.

hi penny, there's still eveleigh markets that's for sure. i'm not exactly sure what alex is selling there — i'm suspecting cakes and pastries?

hi miss kimbers, i'm afraid you have. that's a shame when you were intending to go it was closed. there was a lot more seating inside than i once thought when passing by.

hi food is our religion, the desserts were good. i wish i had more people to try the others when i visited on my one and only time.

hi richard, as far as pricing goes it's not a cheap meal by any standard and i know a $35 pie sounds a little crazy. it was a good pie though but it's definitely not a place a could have afforded to visit very often.

hi kerancia, as you say the post was intended to capture the restaurants last supper. i'll have to visit the growers market now. i've always loved eveleigh markets.

hi detective chow, well done getting there on friday. the mains were very filling but i pushed myself to try as much as possible. actually if i had more time i would have pushed myself to try a couple of extra things.

hi tina, it will certainly be missed that's for sure. i think the chef and kitchen gave a lot of respect to the food they were cooking.

hi anonymous, hehe a pizza at BCF, now that would have been just silly, unless it was on the menu. the reason why i asked for an affogato was because its usually available in a restaurant as a coffee option — most restaurants i've dined at have it. the menu mentioned coffee was available and i'm sure they could have done it if they had vanilla bean ice cream but because they didn't have the ice cream they couldn't make an affogato. perhaps they normally do but being a final week of trading the menu might have changed? it's only a personal note of the affogato being unavailable. for others it wouldn't matter either way. without a camera i wouldn't have captured one of the best chocolate tarts i've had in Sydney now would i :-)

hi anonymous (perhaps the same anonymous above?), why not? perhaps I could reply in saying in the famous words of Mr T 'i pity the fool' that didn't get to eat at BCF. for me the reason of reviewing the restaurant (which unfortunately was about to close) was to capture the last suppers and restaurant and have the chance to showcase dishes that I really enjoyed and highlight a chef that put a lot of soul into her dishes. why would you review anything? i think it's to have a memory of something that happened? just the same way people write books about things that have happened but are now in the past.

Annie said...

i didn't even know it's closed for good until reading this post! i realy love the prawn gnocchi when i went there before. also had a work xmas party at bird cow fish a few yrs back. sooo sad that it's closed but i guess there's alot of competition operating a restaurant/cafe in surry hills :(

Simon Leong said...

hi annie, glad you had a good time when you did get to go. i'm sure they'll be sadly missed. i wonder what restaurant will take over next?

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