Mention the name Concrete Blonde and you might think of the ’80s alternative rock band from the US and their successful album Bloodletting. Concrete Blonde is also the name of a stylish new restaurant that hit the Potts Point dining scene in the last six weeks.
Concrete Blonde interior
Amidst a rustic industrial design with spanner light fittings, a curious cow hide wall, a horizontal fireplace and, flames on the terrace, award-winning designer Michael McCann and Dreamtime Australia have created a chic and elegant dining space with an open kitchen and rotisserie led by Executive Chef, Patrick Dang.
The mood-lit 100 seater restaurant with dark timber floors and concrete columns is abuzz with patrons on a Saturday night.
Concrete Blonde Bar
A metal-studded bar occupies a sizeable space and features a wall of nails from the United States.
The 18th Amendment cocktail and wall of nails
The cocktail list fuses timeless classics with an experimental twist. From the House Specials Jam Jar G&T, to the Unusual The 18th Amendment, a spiced and dark rum cocktail served in a brown beer bottle in a brown paper bag, or Vintage classics with a modern take, 1921 Classic “Harry’s New York Bar” Mary, the cocktails here are designed to bring you back and work your way through the list or discover a new favourite.
I opt for a signature drink and choose the CB Margarita, made with Sauza Hornitos Tequila, Cointreau, a homemade lemon/lime sorbet and fresh citrus. It is served in a Martini glass rimmed with popcorn salt, which adds a curious and fun element to the drink but overall I find it a little unbalanced for my taste.
On the other hand, Mr G’s Lagerita is one impressive drink. A mixture of Anejo Tequila and Cointreau, muddled with lime and sugar and topped with a lager, his cocktail comes served icy cold in a vintage tankard, with a naked woman as the handle. Clearly a man’s drink, he is quick to point out that the drinking vessel is designed so that your thumb either rests on her pointy breasts or nether regions.
This cocktail a little unusual at first sip but the flavour grows on you that you are immediately tempted to order another. The lager addition is not overpowering to what is essentially a Margarita and offers a good balance with the Anejo Tequila.
Concrete Blonde menu
The menu is divided into “the cool stuff” and “hot compositions” (cold and warm entrées), “h2O” (seafood), “from the ranch” (meat and game) and ”over the wood” (grills and rotisseries). Dishes are described as a list of ingredients and the menu is presented on large sheets of paper which carry different designs on the back.
Seated beside a glass wall with the CB logo, I am afforded a peek at the cellar. The wine list is impressively diverse. There’s a good selection of vintages from France, Austria, New Zealand, Italy, USA, Australia as well as South Africa, Lebanon and Argentina. François Laran, Concrete Blonde’s Manager, is happy to lend his expertise and recommend wines by the glass or by the bottle.
We start with two cold entrées. The iki jime ocean trout has elements of “egg benedict” with a quail egg yolk and smoked butter crumbs. The ocean trout is rolled into rounds, its smoothness contrasts with the texture of the butter crumbs which have been dehydrated then smoked in a box. There’s a subtle smoky flavour and I love the arty presentation as if the trout pieces have just rolled onto the plate, waiting to be picked up.
A glass of 2010 Quealy Wines Pinot Grigio from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria complements the dish.
Pressed duck salad
The pressed duck salad with persimmon, Chinese master stock, cucumber and goma sesame dressing is served terrine-style and looks spectacular against the dark plate. It has that distinctive game taste I enjoy, a good texture that melts in the mouth releasing a burst of flavours.
A glass of 2006 Canobolas-Smith Chardonnay from Orange in NSW goes down very well.
The main courses from the “over the wood” menu are all equally tempting. We decide to leave our choice in the hands of the chef and choose the two specials of the night.
The presentation of the roasted squab with chanterelle mushrooms and pumpkin purée highlights the three-dimensional aspects with different parts of the bird on the plate . The squab is tender and flavoursome, the foie gras jus finish adds a rich and decadent touch to the dish.
The suckling pig with Portuguese spice, dates, mushrooms, carrots finished with a sherry vinegar jus is a visual feast with a mini vegetable garden surrounding the generously portioned dish. The pork is very tender, succulent and has a strong spicy kick.
Both main courses are presented on large oblong white plates that are almost too large for the size of the table.
Japanese “wafu” salad
The Japanese “wafu” salad with its oak lettuce, wakame, daikon and cucumber is bursting with fresh and zesty flavours on the palate. Served in gondola-like dish, it packs a great balance of flavours with a Japanese influence that can easily convert anyone into a salad eater.
A smooth 2006 Eden Hall Cabernet Sauvignon from Eden Valley in South Australia goes down well with both our dishes.
The dessert menu offers a choice of 5 dishes and a range of local and international cheeses from France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. A photograph on the reverse is a nostalgic reminder of the restaurant’s vicinity to the red light district of Sydney.
The semi-circular Guanaja chocolate combines the elements of Valrhona 70% chocolate, pistachio, navel orange segments and olive oil jam and turns it into a delectable dish that is rich in chocolate but not overly sweet. Combined with a glass of 2008 Mas Amiel from Faury in France, this is a dessert you do not wish to share.
Served tarte-tatin style, the poached quince with hints of rosemary, a hazelnut streusel and honeycomb parfait is perfectly caramelised over a light pastry base. A glass of 2009 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is a great accompaniment to the sweetness of this dessert.
Later in the evening, as the last of the patrons begin to leave, I have the opportunity to take a few photographs and speak to François, in his native tongue, and discover that he comes from Auch, not far from Toulouse in France.
Outside dining area with messages on the ceiling
In the kitchen
Open plan kitchen with open rotisserie and grill
Mosaic wall in Unisex toilets
I also have the opportunity to take a look at the open kitchen and speak with CB’s Executive Chef.
Patrick Dang, who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Australia has cooked in 45 countries, with stints at the 2 Michelin-starred Amber restaurant in Hong Kong, Shanghai’s T8, the Viceroy Hotel Group, as well as in America and Oman.
His round-the-world cooking career has made him open to more ingredients and this is reflected in his style of cuisine, which uses various elements and techniques to create a dish. With food as a medium to get to know other cultures and a focus on seasonal produce, his philosophy is to give justice to the food and ingredients and let the flavour be the garnish. And here, at Concrete Blonde, with a dedicated team that includes Sous Chefs Leander Grstein (of 1 Michelin starred Trofana Royal in Ischgl of Austria) and Dominque Hertz (of 2 Michelin starred Terminus Restaurant in Valais of Switzerland), he says, “I’m telling my story through food.”
(L to R) Patrick Dang (Executive Chef), Leander Gstrein (Sous Chef), Dominique Hertz (Jnr Sous Chef), Mark Chapman (Chef de Partie), Jorgen Cerehrsau (2nd yr apprentice), Cristopher Rey Artez (2nd yr apprentice), Jason Kuo (3rd yr apprentice), Pattama Songsakuldecha (Line Cook), Zain Kapadia (Pastry Chef), Angie Oxford (Apprentice chef), Gisele del Nero (Line Cook) Jessica Bedjaoui (Line Cook).
Concrete Blonde is a modern and stylish restaurant that challenges the ordinary. With a hip sounding name and a décor that seduces the eye where no detail is spared – including the lavish unisex toilets featuring a mosaic wall with a pouty blonde – CB’s ambience is casual and welcoming from the moment you arrive. The cuisine is better described as contemporary and reflects the chef’s international experience and his passionate philosophy to translate different cultures into his menu.
Whether it is the dark tones with living flames in the dining areas, the action behind the kitchen and rotisserie or the enthusiastic and personable wait staff presenting Dang’s creative dishes, Concrete Blonde offers an experience set to woo Sydney diners.
33 Bayswater Rd
Potts Point, NSW 2000
Tue – Sun 6 pm till 12 am
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