As I often travel to the city to eat at French restaurants, I was excited to try a French restaurant that had been open in Gladesville for some time, by the name of Bistro Meme.
Bistro Meme is another venture taken up by David Poiriers of La Grande Bouffe, and as I'd heard good things about both restaurants, I had wanted to go to Bistro Meme for some time. My boyfriend and I came here on a Sunday evening without a reservation.
Close up of the amuse bouche
There were a few other groups dining there when we arrived, but by no means was the restaurant full to the brim, and we were seated as soon as we entered. As it was relatively quiet, there was only one waitress working in conjunction with a host.
Amuse bouche along with our complimentary bread basket
A section of Bistro Meme's outdoor terrace
We were promptly given menus, but it was a little while before the waitress returned to take our orders. After we ordered, it wasn't long before the host brought a complimentary amuse bouche for us - a solitary unshelled escargot cooked in garlic and parsley butter. The escargot was soft and cooked well, complimented by the traditional garlic and parsley butter that never fails to disappoint.
We were given a complimentary basket of both white and sourdough bread, and my boyfriend and I enjoyed dipping the bread into the butter mixture. I noted that the bread was of an excellent quality; fresh and soft.
Although there was ample seating inside, the hosts had seated us, and all the other diners in an outdoor terrace. There weren't any complaints though, as the weather was slightly muggy, and the outdoor terrace provided a cool ambience with décor that evoked a romantic sentiment.
Before long, our entrees were brought to our table. We had decided on half a dozen of the Fresh Oysters with Champagne Vinaigrette ($3.50 each) and the Twice Baked Compte Souffle with Spinach ($18).
Oysters with Champagne Vinaigrette
The oysters were nice and juicy, and they were accentuated well by the champagne vinaigrette, but they were a little on the small side. The compte souffle was a recommendation made by the French waitress, and both my boyfriend and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was very cheesy and creamy on the inside and perfectly baked. It was the perfect starter, and so good I'd come back just to eat this dish alone.
Our main dish, the Classique Marseille Bouillabaisse with Rouille ($65) took a little bit longer to arrive.
Classique Marseille Bouillabaisse
It's a main to share between two people, and a French acquaintance had recommended it to me several years ago as one of the best tasting traditional French dishes. Therefore, I had wanted to try bouillabaisse for some time, but lacked the culinary skills to make it myself, and also never saw it on any French restaurant menu in Sydney until now. A reason for this may have been that many French dishes originate in different areas of France, and bouillabaisse is specifically from the south of France. Bistro Meme specialises in French fare from this region, which is why they had bouillabaisse on the menu, and many other French restaurants in Sydney did not.
The bouillabaisse, a fish and seafood soup, is traditionally served with rouille; a kind of saffron butter as the host explained to us. The bouillabaisse was a beautiful orangey brown colour, and even before it was placed on our table, we were delighted by the delicious smell of just cooked seafood and its lovely saffron aroma.
Rouille with flatbread croutons
Close up of the rouille
Everything about this dish was perfection. The rouille was smooth, and had a delicate taste rooted in its saffron and olive oil ingredients. The crisp flatbread croutons were a nice contrast to the soup. Most of all, the bouillabaisse was much better than I expected it to be. The flavour of the soup had a hint of seafood flavour, due to the abundance of fruits de mer within, with the delicacy of the herb saffron.
Dessert menu at Bistro Meme
All in all, my boyfriend and I agreed that it was one of the most delicious soups we've ever had the opportunity to try.
As the bouillabaisse was rather filling, we almost skipped dessert, but decided instead to share the Passionfruit Creme Brulee ($13.50).
Passionfruit Creme Brulee
The passionfruit flavour was rather subtle and slightly hard to detect amongst the creaminess, but it was undoubtedly very delicious.
The creamy interior of the passionfruit creme brulee
The hard top of the crème brulee was scorched well and satisfying to crack.
The service at Bistro Meme was lovely and friendly. We left the restaurant feeling full, and we were also pleased to have found a nice French restaurant that is much closer to home.
Where: 3-7 Cowell Street Gladesville NSW
Why: Lovely traditional French fare
Cost: Entrees from $17, and mains from $27.
When: Breakfast and lunch 7 days a week, and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday.