I can’t help but feel a little lucky that I’ve got somewhere like this so close to work. Le Pub, a newish subterranean eating and drinking den that quietly appeared out of nowhere. Well, not quite out of nowhere as it wasn’t all that long ago that PJ Gallagher’s filled these digs. It’s still a dark space, in a good way, having had a smart spit-and-polish with a modern Parisian brasserie outfit.
Ok, so chef Chef Ronny Ghantous (ex-The Union in North Sydney) may not be French but he and his team sure know their way around the cuisine, in a modern, arty and let’s-serve-things-on-slate kind of way.
Over several weekday visits my lunch budget spiked significantly; a bit of a change from the usual $5 food hall jobbies I’m used to. It’s good to mix it up a tad, yes? Le Pub’s menu may be brief but there’s enough on there that kept my eating companion and I wanting to go back and try more.
Our first round consisted of the twice cooked soufflé (22), all cheesed-up with gruyere and goat’s cheese; crispy and bronzed on the top, soft and creamy beneath. Nice one. Melt-in-the-mouth confit de canard (26) was the other dish, causing a little swooning as we forked into the steaming duck meat and slightly crispy skin. Baby heirloom carrots and yellow beetroot vegged-up the slate plate as did some great little segments of freeze-dried mandarin. There was mention of foie gras on the menu, a big selling point for me, but it was playing some serious peek-a-boo as neither of us could see where it was worked into the dish.
Also served on slate is the collet d’agneau (24), a roll of pan-seared and roasted lamb neck tumbled with quinoa crumbs, sliced cauliflower, micro herbs, fresh peas and a few smears of cauliflower purée. The first piece required some firm knife action but as I moved along it became more tender, juicy and easy on the molars.
The simple things are quite often the best. Case in point with the steak frites (20). A 200 gram rump with decent chips and a choice of sauce. It was pepper sauce for me; a creamy emulsion that complemented the perfect hunk of medium-rare (closer to rare) beef. From this example, these guys really know how to grill their meat.
You’d come to expect a French-style pub to have boeuf bourguignon (22) on the menu and no exceptions are made here. The only difference is it comes in pie form, sided with Paris mash. At first I thought it was a little on the soupy side but it was when the tender chunks of beef, mushrooms and lardons were mixed up that the rich stew started to shine.
Equally glossy in flavour was the poulet (20), a sous vide breast of chicken with rosemary potatoes, sherry mushrooms and a few slices of radish. No dryness whatsoever. Quite the opposite, actually, but you’d expect that from the sous vide method.
Those that have a hankering for placing bets on the races or feeding and losing money in the slot machines can do so at the far end of the bar, but for me it was back to work.