Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Rogue Bar and Bistro - Another contender for my new favourite restaurant

It's not too often that I'm completely taken aback and surprised by a new restaurant, but this happened over the weekend when we visited Rogue Bar and Bistro in Newstead.  I really try to keep on top of all the new restaurants as they open around town, but I'm happy to admit that I'd missed Rogue, in fact I'd not heard about it at all.  It wasn't until our usual Saturday night dining buddies (well, TB to be precise) suggested we head over and check it out that it crossed my radar.

Once it was suggested, I hoped on the interwebs to do the obligatory 'look-see' and was pretty interested in what I found, which admittedly was not a lot, but enough to spark an interest.  Rogue Bar and Bistro had actually opened up about ten months ago in semi-industrial Newstead close to some of the new mid-rise apartments but closer to the car yards in the area.  It was a pretty ballsy move by chef and owner Daniel Myers, who had previously worked under The Jetty's Jason Coats.  Newstead is much better known for new development the Gasworks, but Rogue has moved into a less obvious location in a pretty grungy industrial part of the suburb.

We'd arranged to meet our dining buddies at 7pm at the restaurant and it was starting to get dark, so we had a little bit of difficulty spotting Rogue at first.  As we slowly cruised down Austin Street, it was one semi-industrial shed after the other, we almost drove straight past before we spotted a crowd of people just milling about.  I guess it was the juxtaposition of the crowd in an otherwise deathly quiet street that gave it away.

Parking the car was a breeze, one of the benefits of being in a quiet and semi-industrial street is that there is no shortage of street parks right by.  It wasn't until we had parked the car and walked over to the crowd of people standing out the front that the restaurant actually started to take shape.  The combination of ten or so customers along with a dark blind pulled all the way down effectively hid Rogue from our view, but once we got past these obstacles, we were confronted by a pretty fresh looking bistro.  Our buddies had not turned up yet, so we were taken to our seats to wait and had the opportunity to get a good look around.

Rogue is not a massive restaurant but it caters for about twenty or so inside.  The kitchen and bar stretch along one half with seating running down the restaurant on the other half.  We also noticed that there was room for another twenty plus diners outside but with no awning or covering, this would suck pretty badly on a rainy night.  There are crisp clean lines in the restaurant with a very contemporary look and feel, which included the bar area, which really reminded me of a good quality home bar.  We were given our menus and settled in to wait for our dining companions to arrive.

Once CI and TB arrived and were settled in we could get to the serious business of deciding on what we would be devouring.  Rogue has an interesting way of describing the meals on the menu, simply describing the courses by the animal name (or vegetable), with a more detailed list of ingredients underneath.  The menu has quite a broad range of options for both entrees and mains which makes selection of only one 'animal' quite hard. This is solved with the addition of 'The Ark' which allows you to pick three 'animals' and three sides, which helps spread the love around.  We decided to get one of each of the starters to (mostly) share around the table.

First up was the squid, which was was dusted and flavoured with salt and pepper and supported with a mango mint salsa.  Presented simply on a bespoke wooden board, the squid looked very appetising and all the more so because of a splash of red from the salsa.  When squid is cooked perfectly, it's an absolute joy to eat and this was as good an example of perfectly cooked squid as you will come across.  It was delicious and soft in just the right way, with the mango salsa being a surprisingly good foil for the subtle flavour of the squid.  It was actually quite a generous size for the price, which was something that we noted about all of the starters.

Next was the pig, which was a five spice pork that came with a cucumber salad and sriracha dressing.  Again, such a simple way do describe what turned out to be an elegant yet rustic looking plate of food and to make eating easier, the dish came with some funky skewers.  Essentially little cubes of pork, deep fried and presented on a cucumber salad, the very simple flavours worked really well together to leave a subtly sweet aftertaste in the mouth that lingered long after the pig was devoured.  Amazing food cooked simply seemed to be the order of the day for Rogue.

Bird was used to describe the next starter which really underplayed the fact that they were peking duck dumplings with a hoi sin sauce and coriander.  This was SC's choice, which was no surprise as one of her favourite meals around town is the duck dumplings at Harijuku Gyoza (see post here).  The Rogue dumplings came in a super thin dough that was translucent and were all so delicate.  The was a huge punch of flavour from the gamey duck that married wonderfully with the hoi sin and I could tell from the look of contentment on SC's face she loved them.  That and the fact she said she loved them, over and over.

Last of our starters was called mollusc and was steamed mussels with champagne cream and toasted soldiers. Fat and plump perfectly cooked mussels that had opened easily in the creamy champagne sauce were quickly devoured and the toasted soldiers were used to mop up the sweet tasty sauce.  There were quite a few mussels included in the bowl and considering they were only $8 bucks, an incredible deal.  In fact, all of the starters were between $6 and $8 bucks, which is unheard of really.

Starters finished, we spent some time talking about how brilliant our meal had been so far, with amazing flavours and incredibly cheap starters. We'd raised our expectations for our mains and were quite excited to get on with the meal.  First main presented to us was CI's sheep, which was a lamb rump with kalamata soil, honey thyme carrots, asparagus and a shiraz reduction.  It was clear that a lot of thought had gone into the presentation and the composition of the meal, with a wooden board that just matched the meal.  The perfectly cooked and ruddy pink lamb was sweet and totally yummy, even more so with the sweet carrot puree and the slight bite of the asparagus spears.  The shiraz reduction was sticky and helped bring an earthy flavour to the lamb.

Sticking with bird for both courses, SC's main bird was duck cooked two ways with gnocchi, corn puree, popped corn and pine nuts.  The duck had been confit and then finished off in the pan to give the skin a lovely crispy texture and beautiful caramelisation.  It was wonderfully cooked and just fell away from the bone, with a deep gamey flavour that comes from exquisitely cooked duck.  The dish looked really interesting with corn presented a number of ways, including a sweet puree, baby corn pieces and then some popped corn, which all combined to provide a myriad of textures and flavours.

Fish was the last of the courses we selected, with both TB and I eyeing off and selecting the crispy skinned snapper with kipfler potato, scallions, lemon textures, mussels sand dill oil.  I thought this was the best looking dish of the night with each element on the plate precisely placed and both of our wooden boards looking identical.  The fish was an amazing array of flavours and textures that both tantalised and teased the palate.  The snapper was expertly cooked with salty and crispy skin and moist delicious flesh that married beautifully with the scallions that it sat atop.  There was some kitchen wizardry on show as well, with some dehydrated lemon and ash, which had a powdery texture until it hit some moisture at which point it exploded on the tongue.  I really enjoyed the dish, as did TB and we both agreed that while all of the dishes looked and tasted great, we had picked the winner.

With such amazing food consumed so far, there was never any doubt about dessert and we each slected one of the three desserts on offer.  CI had bagged the peaches and cream which came with frangipani, bruleed peaches, meringue, peach gel and chantilly cream.  I'd been eyeing this one off myself and had a twinge of food envy when it was presented, which quickly departed when I saw my dessert!  The peaches and cream was a very creative take on classic flavours with a very contemporary look that screamed class.  The little sample that I had was pretty nice and CI was completely enamoured with the flavours and textures, so he was a happy camper.

Any envy that I was harbouring was quickly erased and it was the turn of the table to have food envy when my pine and lime was presented.  I'd actually considered ordering the peaches and cream as well, but in a moment of inspiration, I'd asked the waiter which was his preferred dessert option, which I eventually chose. The burnt pineapple with sorbet, lime foam and fried sage was spectacular in appearance and taste.  The lime foam was oozing over the side of the glass and reminded me of a slow lava flow from a volcanic eruption.  The lime foam was like a gooey merengue and tasted amazing and I spent a few minutes scraping off the side of the glass and wooden board.  This turned out to be wasted time! Once I had a taste of the burnt pineapple, it was all I could focus on, it was delicious and once I hit the thicker cream at the bottom of the glass and combined it with all of the ingredients, I was in dessert heaven.  The fried sage was excellent with the lime sorbet and added some different texture and flavour to the plate.  I seriously could rave about this dessert for some time, but I'll stop.....  I'm just teasing myself.  Get in and eat this dessert!

The last of the desserts was perhaps the most elegant looking and was definitely the most decadent, with the chocolate tart being accompanied with hazel nut panna cotta, cherry puree and golden rough ice cream.  The tart was intensely flavoured and was almost too much, but the hazel nut pannacotta and toasted almonds which sat atop of the tart helped bring the richness 'back to earth'.  The chocolate didn't end with the tart and the golden rough ice cream continued to assault the senses with chocolaty goodness.  This dessert had it all, taste, texture and temperature and left SC speechless and horrendously full.

At the end of the meal we sat around in stunned silence.  The meal at Rogue Bar and Bistro had just changed the dining paradigm for me.  Not only was the meal incredible, creative and just downright tasty, it was also super competitively priced.  The team at Rogue have constructed an amazing dining experience right in the middle of an industrial estate on the fringe of the city's hottest dining precinct.   I mean, if you didn't know about this place you would just drive on by, none the wiser!

The whole team on the night were engaging and amazing, providing personalised service that was second to none.  The boys were happy to share a joke, make recommendations about the food and in the case of TB, make up cocktails that weren't on the menu that were also superb.

I've been lucky over the last few weeks to have checked out some great spots but as far as the complete package goes, Rogue Bar and Bistro has to be up there as one of the best.  To think that this wonderful little bistro had somehow escaped my attention for so long kind of sucks, I could have been eating here for so much longer....  Oh well, I'll have to thank TB for the recommendation on the night :)


The boys accidentally brought over some bread - which we didn't order but the problem was solved and they didn't end up charging for it
We loved the starters and at such a reasonable price, surely a game changer around town
There was a special salt on the very excellent chips and we almost got the secret recipe from one of our waiters, but he was rescued at the last moment!!
The kitchen area where the magic happens
Ordinarily this area is filled with couches but it was a big night with some parties - Rogue was pumping
This would be a great spot to have a few drinks on a Saturday afternoon
Once you know it's there its hard to miss but at dusk the blind was not as see through and we drove on past without seeing the restaurant

Rogue Bar + Bistro on UrbanspoonRogue Bar +  Bistro


  1. I had lunch at Rogue a while ago and was also incredibly impressed. Will have to go for dinner soon. Great review.

  2. Thanks Mel, yeah, it's pretty impressive and Incant wait to go back!


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