Three Blue Ducks

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Here we are, I've thawed this post from the archives (read: lazy bones)! Three Blue Ducks is lauded as one of Sydney's finest cafés and I can understand why. Opening back in 2011 (the dark ages by today's standards) it is now a treasured part of Bronte and a must-visit. When descriptors like 'honest' are used for food it does make me cringe (can food somehow be deceptive then?) but I'm happy to make allowances for this suburban gem. This is a little café on Bronte's main strip that is definitely making waves.

As soon as this cookbook was announced I bought myself a copy, bringing a bit of the TBD philosophy into the home kitchen. The back stories are a fun read and the recipes delicious! Credit: Three Blue Ducks

I had been looking forward to FINALLY trying this place out for an age. Masterchef 3 also bolstered their popularity where the team delivered some fabulous food and beautiful plating, I suppose working in Tetsuya's is a good start (!). Three Blue Ducks is the product of a collaboration between 5 mates (so Five Blue Ducks, really) including chefs Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy. Sam Reid-Boquist is front of house, barista Chris Sorrell and Jeff Bennett put together the wine and craft beer list. 

The distinctive graffitied interior, which was largely done by the Ducks themselves. Pretty good handiwork I must say. The café is spread over two shopfronts with an adjoining portico Credit: The Australian

One thing that appeals about Three Blue Ducks is it's accessibility.  You have laid in front of you what could be restaurant quality food in a place where you could clearly wear flip-flops. TBD was constructed with not only a food philosophy in mind but an entire lifestyle (involving lots of sun and surf). It's no secret that the boys love to surf, so a beachside café starts to make a whole lot of sense. What's more, they also have an urban garden in which they grow a lot of their fresh produce and keep chickens in the "Chook Mahal" along with a bee hive. Not too shabby!

Eel, green tea and kombi. Perched atop daikon. I confess, I am a total sucker for eel, especially Japanese style Unagi-Don...AAAAh. The eel portion was rather on the meagre side here but the combination of flavours was intriguing but harmonious all the same

The menu is divided into small, big plates and sweets. Make of it what you will, you have free reign over the menu - have as many (!) or as few (boo) as you like. In the early days they did a dinner degustation where you chose your courses (up to 4), each costing $17. I for one never thought I'd write café and degustation in the same sentence but there you have it. The menu is literally your oyster (they're also on the the menu). It was a pretty sweet deal at the time; they must have cottoned on to how labour intensive degustation-anything is.

Calamari and smoked corn. By golly miss molly. This dish is a CRACKER. A smudge of corn purée (not enough) with perfectly fresh & tender squid laced with corn kernels. It is so light and delicious I could easily have had bowls of the stuff!

During daylight hours the coffee machine is busy whirring away but at night it takes on a different hat. It becomes the casual restaurant serving restaurant-quality food and that's the truth. The  formative years in fine dining establishments have clearly shaped the food at TBD. The technique certainly shows and speaks for itself. As you'll see, plating is elevated to an art form (watch out  Quay! Only joking). You almost forget you're in Sydney suburbia. They prefer the big plate, food on the side approachThis is classy, well thought out food without any of the fuss. Versatility is key here; being able to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner is surely an asset.

Mushrooms and grains: a generous pile of shredded mushrooms on grains cooked al dente? Err what's not to love?

Black cake, fried egg, apples and beets (left) and mussels, clams and lemongrass (right). The black pud, delicately hidden by the egg was so smooth and goes perfectly with apple (weirdly). The raw onions were not really my cup of tea

Wagyu, bone marrow and kale. Of all the dishes, this was perhaps on the plainer side flavour-wise but the cooking of the wagyu was faultless

Duck, rhubarb and licorice. Just. Wow. The duck breast was super tender, like unbelievably so. I could not get over that...dying to know their secret!

Orange, chocolate parfait and ganache. A tried and tested combination that totally works

Lemon, meringue and celery. The star dessert, by a mile. This looked stunning when it was presented. The skewed plating is almost a trademark, maximising the effect. The plating would probably have taken ages!!

This dessert was a big highlight for me, one of the best desserts I've had in a while. It is a take on a lemon meringue pie (deconstructed) with a dash of candied celery. The latter sounds bizarre but it did add a refreshing crunch to the dish. Curd? Tick! Meringue? Tick. With candied zest and lemon jelly, it was an intricate piece of handiwork

Expect the unexpected, that's what I took away from TBD. As I'm sure many Bronte locals do, you could easily drop-in several times a week. Finding excuses: the morning coffee run, brunch on a Saturday, the can't-be-bothered-to-cook night... is just too easy. Unsurprisingly, the Ducks have done so well that they've opened another café in Falls Creek which opens to during ski/snowboard season (another fortuitous venture? I think not). There's also another Inner Sydney café planned for Bondi Beach which is one to watch out for. Exciting times ahead for the Three Blue Ducks and their loyal fans.

Credit: Three Blue Ducks Instagram (@joelbennetts)

Thanks for reading!
Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon


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