Lunch: Tuesday – Sunday from 12pm
Dinner: Tuesday – Sunday from 6pm
Double Bay is not a suburb viewed as a dining mecca. The recent opening of Dietmar Sawyere's Ad Lib Bistro is somewhat of a surprise really. Perhaps he chose the Double Bay location due to lack of competition or as a way of putting Double Bay back on the map, certainly the suburb could do with the help.
A recent dining offer of $69 for a three course meal for two people (plus a bottle of wine) at Pink Salt, Double Bay seemed an offer too good to refuse, and so it was that Buggles & Squeak headed to Double Bay for a spot of lunch.
When we arrived at Double Bay around midday, we were immediately struck by the lack of activity & the 'ghost town' feel of the place. The suburb has certainly lost the glitz & glamour of its 80's heyday. It feels dated.
When we arrived at Pink Salt we noticed it was very reminiscent of the suburb it resides in; though it only opened in 2006, Pink Salt is in need of a 'spruce up', it definitely comes across as a little tired & shabby around the edges.
A new paint job alone would work wonders, add some new furniture & lighting & the restaurant could again claim to have a "seductive chic interior".
We settled at our table & were offered the menu. Immediately we are told that two of the pasta dishes are not available (there were only three to begin with), nor is the duck main course.
Buggles decided to order the scallops as an entree, but after a short while she was told these also, were not available.
So with somewhat limited choices our meal began....
Buggles' new entree choice was Pink Salt & Pepper Squid with a salad of cucumber, parsley, coriander & chilli with a soy reduction. Buggles did enjoy this dish, she found the flavours to be clean & fresh and the squid well cooked & not remotely 'rubbery'. While not mind blowing in terms of flavour it was well seasoned & a good start to the meal.
My Tempura Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta & chives, served with a tomato vinaigrette was quite delicious. Even though the batter was on the 'heavier' side of tempura, it retained its crunch & wasn't doughy. The creamy ricotta & chive interior was well seasoned, not bland as some ricotta fillings can be. The tomato vinaigrette was under seasoned, but really popped with the addition of some salt.
With the confit duck out of the picture, Buggles settled on the Atlantic Salmon with a marinated fennel & orange salad. The salmon was cooked well with a nice crispy skin. The salad was fresh & zingy & worked incredibly well with the salmon. The salsa verde that topped the salmon was a little heavy on the basil at the expense of all other ingredients.
My Grain fed Sirloin with béarnaise, hand cut, tripled cooked chips & watercress salad, was perfectly acceptable. The steak was cooked more towards the medium side of medium rare; the hand cut chips should be cut thicker so that the difference between fluffy interior & crispy exterior is more apparent. The béarnaise was not too acidic & had a nice tarragon hit and watercress salad was delicious.
The sugar snap peas with pinenuts, were well cooked if somewhat bland.
Buggles dessert of Lemon & Lime tart with raspberry sorbet & meringue was the winner. The tart was zesty & creamy with a good biscuit base, the sorbet was full of raspberry flavour & the meringue added a touch of sweetness to combat all the tang. Very nice.
My Creme Brulee was a bit of a miss really. The sugar top was very thin & quite absent when it came to flavour & texture; the custard was on the thickish side & really had no vanilla flavour whatsoever. The hazelnut biscotti were quite soft and had none of the usual crunch.
The service on the whole was very good, especially from Evan (the owner) who was very friendly & a little cheeky.
Pink Salt charges $19 for entrees, $36 for mains & $14 for desserts. With the arrival of Ad Lib Bistro we think that Pink Salt could benefit from lowering the price of main meals & desserts in particular. Main meals at Ad Lib range from $28-$45, averaging at around the $32 mark. Desserts are all $12. If Pink Salt charged around $32 for mains & $12 for desserts we think this would serve them better.
Would we return to Pink Salt? We are not sure. At $69 for two people it was an absolute bargain and we did genuinely enjoy the meal, but at $196...maybe not.
To put it in perspective, we could pay $196 for three courses at La Scala on Jersey, this is the calibre of restaurant Pink Salt competes with & as such it really needs to reassess.