Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point

Macleay St Bistro has been a Potts Point culinary icon for over thirty years. This much, Sydney-siders know. But the restaurant’s history has an interesting twist.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point

It traded as Potts Point Café from 1957 to 1982 before it was purchased by Wendy Clayford and Daniel Golance in 1982 who named it Macleay Street Bistro. During that time, it has seen great chefs such as Mark Armstrong (part founder) and later Mark Best of Marque restaurant. But it doesn’t end there.

In July 2013, two long-time customers and locals, Mark Campbell and Phillip Fikkers, liked it so much that they bought the business. Tom Williams (ex Tetsuya and Bambini Trust) now heads the kitchen with long time Sous Chef, Sophie Heath. The focus is on a seasonally-inspired French fare with a weekly changing blackboard menu.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Red Chandelier

The venue may be steeped in history but the décor reflects a classic and understated elegance in an almost duochrome black and white look, accentuated with bright red chandelier and flickering tea light candles.

From the moment you are greeted by Maître d’, Daniel Carter to the minute you toast your first glass of wine on the excellent recommendations of sommelier, Guillaume Baumard, you’ll feel at ease in the relaxed and romantic ambience.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Dosnon & Lepage Blanc de Noir Champagne

The experience begs a sparkling start with a glass of Dosnon & Lepage Blanc de Noir Champagne ($18) that is creamy on the palate with a lovely cereal character.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Warm Chilli-Marinated Olives

Warm Chilli-Marinated Olives ($8) prime the palate

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Sydney Rock Oysters

for a classic appetiser of Sydney Rock Oysters ($4 each), served with an eschallot and champagne vinaigrette sauce that doesn’t overpower the delicate briny oyster.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Half Shell Scallop with Saffron Chive and Caper Butter

The Half Shell Scallop with Saffron Chive and Caper Butter ($5 each) is a delight. The saffron flavour is evident and marries well with the scallop while the acidity in the capers cuts through some of the sweetness and lingers on the back palate. The 2011 Girardin Bourgogne Chardonnay ($12) matches the dish very well with its more fruity and less dry character than than anticipated.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Gorgonzola Tart

From the blackboard specials menu comes the Gorgonzola Tart with Caramelised Leek and Pecan Pear Salad ($18), with a light and buttery crust that melts in the mouth with the lingering flavour of the cheese – a delicious and light starter that makes you wish you could ask for an encore.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Warm Duck Breast

From the entrees, duck is always difficult to resist and in this dish, the Duck Breast with Carrot and Cumin Puree and Cherry Glaze ($18) is tender and succulent, served warm with a prominent flavour of cumin in the carrots. The cherry glaze adds a touch of sweetness that complements the meat.

The jammy yet easy drinking Vina Herminia Rioja Tempranillo ($58 bottle) makes a perfect accompaniment to the duck.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Classic Steak Tartare

The Steak Tartare with Crostini ($36 main size) is a classic that has long been on the menu. It arrives beautifully presented like a flower with a raw egg on top surrounded by shallots, anchovy, capers and mustard, only to be mashed into a pulp at the table. The meat is fresh and flavoursome with the seasonings and you can add olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco according to taste.

Once again, the Petit Roubie Syrah ($13) from Languedoc is another well-paired wine with the classic dish.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Roasted Spatchcock

From the specials menu comes the Roasted Spatchcock with Petits Pois and Chorizo Fricassee ($37), tender and tasty and a hint of spice from the sausage. The Framingham Riesling Classic 2011 Marlborough ($13) makes easy sipping.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Truffle-scented Potato Puree

The Truffle-scented Potato Puree ($12) is smooth and creamy, and lingers with the aroma of truffle.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Creme Brulee

Sweet temptations include Creme Brulee with Mascarpone Sorbet and Mixed Berries ($15), a perfect brulee with a caramelised sugar crust that is a delight to break. The accompanying mascarpone sorbet is an acquired taste but the tartness of the mixed berries cut through the sweetness of the dish.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point
Hazelnut Mille Feuille

The  Hazelnut Mille Feuille with Coffee Anglais ($15) consists of light and airy pillows in a rich pool of hazelnut and coffee. The balance of flavour makes it good enough to eat on its own with a spoon.

Macleay St Bistro, Potts Point

Macleay St Bistro delights the senses and offers an experience that lingers in memory. If you’re looking for a romantic restaurant with the right ambience, classic French fare that is well-executed, a tempting menu that is well-priced, excellent wine recommendations by the sommelier, and a level of service akin to fine dining but without the attitude, you’ll find it all at Macleay St Bistro.

Macleay St Bistro
73a Macleay Street
Potts Point, NSW 2011
Open 7 nights from 5:30pm to 11:00pm; BYO Wine (corkage)
Ph: (02) 9358 4891


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.