Since 1993, Bistro Moncur has transported locals, as well as the internationally famous, from the leafy suburb of Woollahra to the romantic and delicious dining rooms of Paris. Owners, John and Sally Ryan, who took the restaurant over in 2011, are committed to continuing this institution's tradition. The restaurant serves authentic French dishes alongside contemporary Australian dishes, and it all starts with the ambiance.
Bistro Moncur is housed inside the Woollahra Hotel on Queen Street, and the hotel offers a plethora of dining opportunities, including the Woollahra Bar, the laid-back Terrace Bar and restaurant, and the chilled Back Bar. Bistro Moncur is the heart of the hotel’s dining, and it looks just as one might expect a Parisian-style restaurant to look.
It has low, vaulted ceilings, white table clothes topped with white paper, dim lighting, and lots of timber tones, from the chairs to the long bar that runs along one side of the room. The dining room’s defining characteristic is a black-and-white mural that runs the entire length of one wall, hand painted by Michael Fitzjames during the Bistro’s conception.
Michelle Packer and Karen Sang manage the front of the house, and, among patrons, Michelle is just as famous as the Fitzjames mural. She’s worked as a waiter and manager at the Bistro for nearly 20 years. Thanks in part to such loyal, attentive wait-staff, Bistro Moncur has developed a reputation for astute, old-world-style service, and, accordingly, it has established long-standing regulars.
“Whilst the bistro has played host to its fair share of celebrities, dignitaries and politicians, the locals are the true heart of the restaurant,” John Ryan explained, “and it’s their support over the years that has allowed the bistro to continue opening its doors day after day.”
Consistency only comes through practice and dedication, and some of the restaurant’s dishes have not changed since the doors opened in ‘93. For instance, Executive Chef, Darrien Potaka, and Head Chef, Same Kane, serve the renowned Alaskan Snow Crab and Sweet Corn Omelette, a delicate omelette with fresh Alaska snow crab served with a warm, rich beurre noisette. The signature dish is the Roast Spatchcock, a dish in which spatchcock is served surrounded by perfect spheres of potato, all of which are flavoured with herbs and butter and covered with a mushroom-rich chasseur sauce.
The menu’s gratins, housemade sausages, expertly prepared sauces, and simply prepared seasonal, local seafood leave you with no doubt that you are enjoying a host of traditional French dishes supported with Australian produce at Bistro Moncur.
Contemporary Australian dishes are also present here and there, such as the Pan-Fried Barramundi Fillet from Cone Bay, Western Australia, which is served with prawns, eggplant, Israeli couscous, red peppers, and chermoula.
For pairing the right wine, look no further than the wait-staff’s recommendations. Each night, the restaurant offers around 20 wines by the glass; many come from France, but wines made in the French style by Australian producers are also prevalent.
Bistro Moncur has been a staple of Sydney’s French dining since it opened, and thankfully, nothing much has changed: Food, service, and setting remain as unique and on point as ever.