Duke's Bistro

Kate Young
4th Sep 2016

Randwick is set to get a brand new American-French eatery - Duke’s Bistro, upstairs at The DOG Hotel.

The fusion of the two is implemented throughout all aspects of the establishment. From the food using both the flavours and techniques of French cuisine and giving huge hearty American sized portions. You will find Duke’s menu is a step up from the traditional pub grub.

The interior design is a melting pot, falling somewhere between hunting lodge and the bohemian elegance of New Orleans French Quarter. Deer heads and pistols hang like trophies on the wall, while brick columns partition off seating areas. There is a heavy use of wood in the décor from the floors to the long communal dining tables helps to create the lodge like atmosphere. This is juxtaposed with the colonel style of New Orleans with the elegant chandelier that hangs in the entrance staircase and the beautiful mural (painted by local artists Jo & Jo) depicting the lush greenery of the French Quarter's European roots. You’ll find a fireplace that gives the room a cozy romantic intimate feel, while the big red booths accommodate for large parties. There’s even a balcony that stretches along the length of the building, perfect for those summer months.

The large open plan kitchen features two specially designed rotisseries. I was both fascinated and hypnotized by these. What better way to create a sense of theatre then watching as the beer brined chickens roasted to perfection and slowly dripped over a bed of potatoes. The other housed their (what I believe to be) brisket, which may not have been as entertaining to watch but was still equally as mouth watering.

Executive Chef Dwayne Barber explains the concept behind Duke’s is shared plates, allowing diners to try an arrangement of dishes. Also on offer is a banquets option. Starting from $40 a head for four people (sharing a variety of eight dishes) to a banquet for $65 for six people (sharing a variety of twelve dishes). We got to feast on the last banquet option and all I can say is that I’ve never eaten so much food in my life. The serving sizes are American style…huge. I walked away in a food coma and ready for a nap.

There are a lot of French classics to be found at Duke's Bistro - such as the Escargot Beurre Persille Vol Au Vent. The escargot was cooked to perfection, was not chewy at all (which can be when over cooked) the pastry was buttery, crumbly and light. Served with the most amazing parsley butter, my only wish was that the snail could have been coated a little in this sauce its self. The Grilled prawns looked like a monster from the great depths of the ocean, they were HUGE, and finished in a cognac beurre blanc sauce.

One of the highlights of the night was the Smoked Pumpkin Tartine. This dish as far as I am concerned was as close to perfection as a dish can get. The perfectly crisp pancetta matched well with the silk y smooth smoked pumpkin puree, and the fresh figs added a much-needed sweet freshness. I was pleasantly surprised by the whitlof as I thought it would be far too bitter but the charring of it allowed the natural sugars to develop and offer a slight sweetness to the dish. All these elements perfectly balanced on the sour dough crisp created the standout meal of the night. Quite often when tasting individual elements can detract from the whole dish, but this was not the case with the smoked pumpkin tartine. The standout element in my opinion was hands down the smoked pumpkin puree, perfectly smoked and silky smooth I can see why Restaurant Manager Baptiste Paccicos loves it so much.

The Rotisserie meats are out of this world. Both the Beer Brined chicken and Lamb Shoulder were cooked to perfection but were also very tender and succulent. The showstopper to both these dishes though where the jus that accompanied them, especially the one that came with the Lamb shoulder. It was thick and syrupy and I could have eaten it by the bowlful.

Over all I had a great experience, I must say what drew me to Duke’s in the first place was the intrigue of how Chef Barber was going to fuse the two cuisines. I was pleasantly surprised how he was able to apply French techniques to many of staple “American” dishes that I know and love and be able to refine those dishes and enhance those flavours. I’m also impressed by the amount of gluten free dishes that are available on the menu, so here no one misses out. To boot Dukes also offers a killer choice of craft beer (12 taps pouring), cocktails (both French and American classics with a twist) and wine.

Dukes Bistro is open seven nights a week from 5pm for dinner and Sundays for lunch from midday.