As foodies with a dislike for our own cooking, we’re in a position of dining out on a regular basis. Every so often, we come across a place that absolutely blows us away. And for us, this was Bar Chinois on Kensington Street, just behind Spice Alley.
Bar Chinois is probably what you would classify a gastropub of sorts. They’re a bar, fully stocked up with the drink of your dreams, but they’re not just about the booze. They couple this with amazing food. A fusion of western and eastern delights. French with an Asian twist. We like fusion food. It takes food (and us) to all different parts of the world.
There are two levels to this establishment, with seating in every nook and cranny. They’ve taken full advantage of a relatively small space. Styles range from your European sitting room (above), diner style booths, your every day tables and chairs, as well as bar seating. There’s a spot for everyone, even those looking for a #tableforone.
Despite being wine drinkers for the most part, we do enjoy the odd cocktail here and there. And we both concluded that this was one of tastiest cocktails we’ve had the pleasure of drinking. The “La Dame Chinois” (vodka, coconut rum, lychee, liqueur, fresh lime, grapefruit soda, jalapeno, red chilli, lemongrass). This is their speciality of the house and highly recommended for those of you who enjoy more than just the alcoholic kick in your drink! There’s some serious heat from the chilli and jalapenos, as well as a savoury element from the lemongrass. Mmm… delicious.
For our first entree, we chose the duck rillettes fresh spring rolls with plum sauce and chestnut puree. Vietnamese inspired, the rice paper rolls contain juicy delicious duck and a generous portion of fresh and pickled vegetables. The plum sauce adds a sweet element which contrasts nicely with the nutty creamy chestnut puree. French and Vietnamese go hand in hand and this worked beautifully.
As fried chicken fiends, we could not go past their honey glazed popcorn chicken with chilli aioli. Tiny morsels of chicken are battered and deep fried to perfection. They’re slightly sweet, they’re savoury and best of all, they’re crunchy as hell. Dip them into the chilli aioli and you’re set for the perfect dish to go with your cocktail or beer.
Whilst we were sipping our drinks, in between dishes, we decided we needed something to munch on. We ordered some kimchi pomme frites topped with Gruyère cheese. Think dirty fries or poutine – but even better because these crunchy French fries are topped with kimchi and cheese. And not just any cheese but fancy schmancy Gruyère. So good.
With every wine bar and pub doing a late night sandwich lately, we decided to give the Croque Monsieur a go. Smoked ham, gruyere cheese, bechamel and cauliflower pickle. We loved this sandwich. On the one hand, it’s a simple croque monsieur. On the other, it’s not that simple. It’s not just ham, it’s a delicious smoked ham. It’s not just cheese, it’s gruyere (yes that fancy stuff again). And the shining star here was the pickled cauliflower which added a little bite and tang and cut through that creamy rich bechamel sauce. Did we say we loved this sammich??
We then moved on to their signature sticky pork belly baguette with Camembert, caramelised onion, pickled cucumber, red chilli, daikon, coriander, mint and chicharron. Wow! Sweet tender pulled pork is always a winner but the flavours in this one was amazing. Coupled with Camembert, it was elevated to the next level. And we absolutely loved all the pickled veggies which essentially turned this into a Vietnamese banh mi. Oh and the chicharron! Who doesn’t love deep fried crackling! So crunchy!!
We ended on a sweet note of course. And what screams ‘FRENCH’ louder than Crepe au Chocolat. Wafer thin crepes folded in and around a very generous amount of delicious chocolate. Not overly sweet, so it was quite obvious that quality chocolate was used. The perfect end to one of the best meals we’ve had in months!
We had an absolute blast at Bar Chinois. One of those rare finds that you want so desperately to keep to yourself. But alas, you can’t, because you’re a food blogger lol. As locals, we know we’ll be returning time and time again to this place. Especially as they have a special of the day each day of the week, and on Thursdays, that’s a bottle of wine and a cheese platter for two! Yes please! Save me a seat!
16 Kensington Street,
Chippendale, NSW 2008
Contributed by Susan, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys