From the wall of origami felt to the meringue with strawberry paper, there’s so much to like about The Bridge Room, a new restaurant that’s opened near Circular Quay.
Not only is the Strawberry Marshmallow Meringue ($18) a joy to eat, the given instruction that you need to smash it open with your spoon – to get to the yogurt jackpot inside and scramble it with the strawberry ripple and “paper” – only adds to the unquestionable fun.
The Bridge Room is run by Ross and Sunny Lusted, and their travel-heavy past with Amanresorts adds an international touch to the menu. Sunny mentioned how she was struck by how resourceful people were in Asia – when caught offguard by the rain, locals would pluck out a banana leaf to use as an impromptu umbrella – and every ingredient here is revitalised in ingenious ways. Instead of being cast off, carrot tops are used in a salsa verde or stock, while coconut husks in the fruit salad are turned into ash for another dish. Similarly, the interior shows the pattern and grain of timber offcuts, lined up like wooden licorice allsorts.
The return of Ross Lusted (ex-executive Rockpool chef) to Australia has sparked much excitement (I think there were three prominent mentions of The Bridge Room in Good Living before the restaurant even opened), but for me, the biggest endorsement comes from my friend Brendan. Now working in radio (he showed me the ropes at FBi!), Brendan used to cook for a living (Bourke Street Bakery, Harbour Kitchen & Bar, Forty One) and tells me that Ross is the best chef that he has ever worked with.
And accordingly, the food is so very good. There are heirloom carrots “in funky colours”, cooked beautifully over a Japanese robata grill; the playful meringue, a popular raw wagyu shoulder and also some great off-menu choices. In a recent Good Living story, Ross Lusted talked about his appreciation for vegetables, inspired in part by Sunny (“who was raised vegetarian and remains predominantly so”) and working in Asia, where many people keep to a meat-free diet for religious or financial reasons. So even if no vego mains are listed on the menu, do ask and you might get to try a beautiful dish of Japanese brown rice, livened with ginger, chilli and a zippy, brisk chiffonade – it’s like a play on chicken rice. I know brown-rice-anything sounds excitement-proof, but this main unlatches surprising flavours from deceptively simple ingredients. A previous diner had described it as the best vegetarian dish he’d had.
What makes The Bridge Room stand out is the fact it’s not tailgating trends or relying on triple-barrel hype or battle-tested favourites. Everything here is beautifully modulated, well-throught-through and original – whether it’s the sculptural wall of felt installed by Tobias Partners, the crockery pieces that Ross Lusted has designed himself or what ripples with flavour on your plate. Unlike other high-profile restaurants, there’s nothing “loud” here – but everything speaks volumes.
The Bridge Room, 44 Bridge Street, Sydney NSW (02) 9247 7000, www.thebridgeroom.com.au