Over the past year, this establishment has evolved into an elegant bistro that deserves the attention of sophisticated diners. In a city where new establishments rarely bring anything new to the dining experience, Sydney’s Bishop Sessa serves inspired dishes using quality ingredients sourced from dedicated growers.
The restaurant is in Crown St at the site where “Tabou” was a dining institution for many years. Tabou was a wonderful bistro serving French classics with great fidelity to a loyal following. After it closed, the site flirted with a couple of eateries but they failed to create any lasting impact.
Now the successful management team of chef Paul Cooper and front of house Erez Gordon has shown an understanding of what this location is capable of and what diners appreciate.
Downstairs is a wine bar and casual dining area whilst upstairs has recently been renovated and is now an elegant dining room with a cosmopolitan atmosphere that makes you feel you really are eating in a special place. Lighting is good and sound levels at that happy medium where you can feel the buzz from your fellow patrons but not have to shout to your dining companions.
Dishes show excellent technique with great flavour combinations using fresh, quality produce. Entrees are delicate and leave you wanting more, but main portions are generous and you won’t leave feeling hungry.
The menu is a skillful mix of bistro classics and new world imagination.
The charcuterie board (for two) is not far removed from the classic French version, for example. But the scallop ceviche with cucumber, avocado, lemon and ginger beer sorbet is refreshing and vibrant and shows little resemblance to Coquilles St Jacques.
A blue eye trevalla is modern Australian. The perfectly poached fish rests on a delicious bed of fresh vegetables including peas, eggplant and red capsicum linked by a delightful vinaigrette. There are also duck, pork and beef dishes. The sort of ingredients you’d find on a classic bistro menu but at Bishop Sessa given a makeover to elevate them to super modern Australian bistro standard.
Seafood is from sustainable fisheries whilst meats such as the organic Wagyu from Gundooee in Dunedoo are from producers of the highest order. The wine menu has a great selection of Australian and imported bottles. They are fairly priced and everyone is sure to find a variety they love. On my most recent visit I had a 2011 Domaine Fevre Chablis. Great value at $69.
My only disappointment occurred when I dined recently with a friend on a Tuesday night. On Mondays and Tuesdays this restaurant has a special pricing for three courses. This particular Tuesday I didn’t see chef, Paul Cooper, or the usual maître d’ on the premises. Service was slow and quality not up to the usual high standards. I had the feeling the staff couldn’t cope with the number of people but hopefully this was a one-off occurrence.
I’ve eaten here half a dozen times and watched this restaurant develop its own identity and style food to the point where it is now a confident grown up in Sydney’s food scene.