Photo: Fiona Morris
It's Saturday night and the main street of Concord is pumping.
A chill is in the air but the family groups meeting up for dinner along the Majors Bay Road shopping and restaurant strip are not deterred. Armed with jackets and scarves, they pack out the outside tables at the local Thai and pizza restaurants.
We opt for comfort and head inside, into the cosy confines of Antoine's Grill. A feeling of warmth oozes from the narrow space, with its richly coloured walls and flicker of candlelight on the tables. The only thing missing is a fireplace and an ante-room with large, comfy lounges to sink into with a hot chocolate or tipple at the beginning or end of the meal.
A family group ourselves - four adults and a child - we are pleased to spot a similar table of five in among the couples and groups of friends.
It is apparent immediately that this is the kind of restaurant you go to for a special occasion or even a date night, but they are welcoming of the youngsters on both tables. We have no complaints about the service in general but it does feel a bit perfunctory at times.
Owned by Antoine Moscovitz, who has worked with Alain Ducasse in Paris and, closer to home, Luke Mangan and Serge Dansereau, the restaurant has a menu with a French-bistro flavour.
Given we're already feeling pretty transported - the accents of our wait staff help - we stay with the theme and eschew the garlic bread in favour of freshly baked baguettes and butter, served warm from the oven. We skip the entrees and instead raid the ''raw bar'', starting with half a dozen Sydney rock oysters, freshly shucked.
Next up is the steak tartare. Buttery and zingy, it's one of the night's highlights. The serving size is generous but no one is complaining. In fact, someone remarks how good it would be served on the baguette for lunch the next day. The same can be said for the house-smoked salmon, served with creme fraiche. Unfortunately, there is none of either left at the end for us to take away to test the theory.
The mains are all about the grill, in our case, a rib-eye steak - one of five on the menu - and crispy-skin barramundi. These are cooked beautifully and come with a sauce on the side. There are also pork ribs with a house-made chipotle sauce.
Lamb shanks from the specials board are the only disappointment. The meat falls from the bone but the kitchen has been a bit heavy-handed with the salt. The sides are worth a mention, particularly for fans of butter. Mash is silky smooth and the beans on the right side of crisp.
The children's menu is a hit with the parents - only one usual suspect in sight, spaghetti bolognaise. Other dishes are cut down or ''petite'' versions of some of the main courses - grilled barramundi, salmon and steak with a choice of chips or vegetables. One mainstay of kids' menus is missed, however. Ice-cream. Luckily, the oozing chocolate fondant has universal appeal.
Desserts are swapped politely but tentatively - they are so good we are all pretty protective of how much we give away. Everyone thinks their own is the best. My money is on the deconstructed lemon tart.
We arrived at 6.30pm, to a street full of hustle and bustle. We leave close to 9pm and nothing has changed. Except our bellies are full and we're dreaming of Paris.
Menu French bistro food with an emphasis on the grill, particularly steak and seafood.
Value Fair. Entrees and appetisers, $6-$17, raw bar $14.50-$26, mains $22-$48, dessert $10-$15.
Recommended dishes Steak tartare, lightly smoked salmon, rib-eye steak, lemon tart, chocolate fondant, creme brulee.
112 Majors Bay Road, Concord, 9743 3354
Dinner, Tue-Sat, from 5.30pm; breakfast and lunch, weekends only, from 7.30am
- Cuisine - French
- Prices - Entrees and appetisers, $6-$17, Raw bar $14.50-$26, Mains $22-$48, Dessert $10-$15
- Opening Hours - Dinner: Tue-Sat, from 5.30pm, Breakfast and lunch: weekends only, from 7.30am
- Author - Sarah McInerney