Every restaurant should be just like The Bridge Room. It’s a big call, I realise this. So big that you probably think I’m joking. But I’m not. At all.
When I sat down to write this review – there wasn’t a bad thing to say. I couldn’t even find a snooty waiter on the floor to bring these guys back down to earth. And trust me, when I go to a restaurant that has only had good reviews (even from Terry Durack), I’m desperately searching for the flaws.
So let me share with you all the things that make this my rock-star of restaurants. Let’s start with the restaurant’s design. My dining partner described The Bridge Room as exuding “Scandinavian-chic” – and after chatting to Ross, it appears my friend has an eye for detail. Design-brand, Funkis, has been, in fact, asked to develop a line based on Ross’s designs. The interior is minimalistic with a pale-oak theme with the only lashings of colour coming from the huge cactus-type plants lining the restaurant and the retro-coloured water glasses. And yet, despite the simplicity, it was not sterile at all. Just warm and friendly.
Bubbly waiters bounced around the restaurant, eager to please the tables full of men in suits. On what I thought would be a quiet Tuesday, the restaurant was full to the brim, with a youthful energy that is hard to avoid. I looked around, trying to work out where this liveliness was stemming from. On several occasions through our meal, I looked up to see Ross, smiling over the restaurant, from the open-kitchen at the back. The decor adds something but it is the people inside it that make the most impact. Some places just have a little bit of “oomph”.
But, to the food. This is when The Bridge Room went from John Farnham prominence to The Beatles stardom. An entree from the specials menu set the standard for the meal. Six sizeable prawns arrived in a cast-iron hot pot. The garlicky oil base of the dish highlighted the sharp flavours of the crunchy fennel salad. Topped with crisp basil leaves and scattered with fresh dill, it was the perfect harmony of Modern Australian and Asian flavours.
If ocean trout is ever on the menu – I have to order it. Call me boring but no other dish will ever compete. There is something about the richness of the ocean trout that just brings its sister-fish, salmon, to shame. And Ross’ ocean trout did not disappoint. Placed on top of the crisp skin was a diced mussel salad, that, combined with the tomato and cumin thick broth-type base, worked like magic. The Mediterranean flavours of the grilled capsicum and tomato base cut through the richness of the fish. Then, there was the crunch from the skin, the smoothness from the tomato base, the graininess from the mussel salad and the creaminess from the fish flesh. I experienced every type of texture in that one dish. I wish I could elaborate on every dish we experienced but it is all gush, gush, gush. In fact, I could gush all day long about The Bridge Room.
Chef Ross Lusted, of Rockpool fame, with his wife, Sunny, opened The Bridge Room with the Fink Group in mid- 2011.
Read more about The Bridge Room here