Vanessa: Having walked past the unassuming exterior of Bishop Sessa on Crown Steet many times, I would not have thought that it would one day become one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney. A big call indeed, but as you read on you will understand why such a statement has been made.
Bishop Sessa offers up modern European cuisine with a focus on paddock-to-plate practices throughout the menu. Chef and owner, Paul Cooper, ensures that the menu reigns true to his belief of nose-to-tail cooking as well as sourcing local, sustainable produce.
Myself and Mr M recently gathered with our close friends AKA ‘The restaurant club members’ to experience Menu 49. As the name suggests, Bishop Sessa offers 3 courses from their standard menu for $49 on Monday and Tuesday nights. I can say with absolute confidence that when it comes to value vs quality you will not find better than this. So much so, that I was hesitant to share our experience for fear we might not be able to get a table the more word spreads!
This was actually the second visit for ‘The Restaurant Club’ in a month, that’s how much we loved our first experience at Bishop Sessa. We were seated downstairs this time, a small intimate space with seating running along the wall of the restaurant.
As we excitedly chatted amongst ourselves about who would be trying what this time around, we once again found ourselves commenting on how great the offerings on this menu are. On our first visit we had pre-ordered a serve of Glacier 51 Toothfish, a unique fish found in Antartica. We were so wowed by it that we had pre-ordered it for this visit as well. Our friendly waitress came to take our order for our main, knowing that we had pre-ordered our entrees.
As we waited for our entree to arrive (and as per our previous visit), we were pleasantly surprised by the arrival of complimentary loaf of house-made sourdough as well as a large crispy potato thin, with a creamy mayonnaise topping.
This salty, crispy delight was unlike anything I had tried elsewhere, but was reminiscent of an original salted crisp. The mere fact that unexpected complimentary dishes were presented to us as part of Menu 49 further adds to the reason it is held so high in my estimation.
As the Toothfish entree arrived at the table, we were collectively impressed by both the size of the fish portion and the difference in how it was prepared compared to our last visit. This time the Toothfish had been poached with the skin off and served with a macadamia and curry crumb alongside charred watermelon. I don’t think my words can justify just how good this combination of elements was. If you have never had Toothfish before, it can be described as delicate and sweet, almost crab like, with a very subtle fish flavour.
The creativity of the chefs at Bishop Sessa is evident with their pairing of the macadamia/curry crumb and charred watermelon, which had a texture barely reminiscent of watermelon. It is a safe to say we were all blown away by the entree. There is a small surcharge added to the bill to have the Toothfish pre-ordered, but it is definitely worth a try.
Our mains arrived and we had a good selection between us. I chose the Melinda Park pork loin which consisted of crispy pork belly, portions of apple and golden beetroot, cider sauce and a sliver of crackling. This was a very tasty main, with various textures and flavours within the dish. The pork belly was the hero of the dish more so than the pork loin which I found to be slightly dry. The crackling was a cracker 😉
Mr M went for the char-grilled organic Wagyu prime cut which was served with pomme puree, cavalo nero, onion jam, red wine sauce. A generous portion of wagyu which was well-paired with the sides. Mr M did comment that he was a little disappointed that the wagyu didn’t have the characteristic marbling it is known for, but a minor gripe as he enjoyed the dish as a whole.
Our friend “Mr P” chose the the Herb crumbed Milly Hill lamb loin served with red pepper braised shoulder, spring vegetable & buttermilk ragout. A very substantial serve of lamb that was a cooked a little too rare for Mr P’s liking but once again the overall taste of the dish outweighed that.
Having previously tried the duck, friends “Ms A” an “Mrs C” couldn’t go past it again. The Spice roasted Aylesbury duck breast is served with delicious smoked baby carrots, cured duck leg, walnuts, citrus sauce. This really is a duck lovers delight as the flavours are strong and the cooking techniques are creative.
I made mention earlier in the post about the value vs quality. It should be known the average cost of a main is around the $35 mark. So you can see why I am shouting about the value here when you are paying $49 for 3 courses, but I digress…
Before moving on to our dessert course, we were once again surprised and delighted by a complimentary pre-dessert that was presented to us. Orange curd with glossy, sweet toasted marshmallow, made for a sweet treat to prepare us for dessert. It definitely was on the sweeter side, so if you don’t have too much of a sweet tooth this would be a great opportunity to order from the Cheese menu, rather than doubling up on the sugar.
The fact that you are given a choice of either a dessert or a cheese option for the third course is another high point of Menu 49. I chose the housemade cheesecake mousse consisting of strawberries and champagne consommé, strawberries and basil ice-cream. A visually beautiful dish that was delightfully refreshing. The basil ice-cream was particularly unique and worked really well with the strawberries.
Ms A went for the trusty salted caramel and banana tart – a match made in heaven that did not disappoint. Strong flavour of banana with salty tones makes for a rich and flavoursome dessert.
Mr P could not go past the Chocolate nemesis with apricot, lime and caramel ice-cream. A wickedly rich dessert, that is one for lovers of chocolate.
Mr M and Mrs C both chose the option of cheese for their final course, choosing the Delice du Poitou Goats Cheese Chèvre which has a sweet, yet delicate flavour. The cheeseboard was very impressive with a cheese to cracker/condiment ratio that was on point to say the least. I will definitely opt for cheese the next time I visit.
It was a unanimous sentiment amongst us all that we once again had an impeccable dining experience at Bishop Sessa. From the wait staff who are friendly and attentive, through to the outstanding quality of produce and presentation (not to mention again the value for money), it’s definitely one we will be visiting regularly. Bishop Sessa also offers a 6-course degustation menu for $77 which is on the list to try next.
Do yourself a favour, give Bishop Sessa a try…you will not be disappointed!
*After 3 years, the price of menu 49 will be going up to $55 as of Monday 11th January 2016. Menu 55 will be available on Monday and Tuesday nights as well as a new time of Saturday between 12-3pm.