Metisse review

Scallops with celeriac puree and avocado brulee.
Scallops with celeriac puree and avocado brulee. Photo: Supplied

5-9 Roslyn St Potts Point, NSW 2011

View map

Opening hours Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight; brunch Sunday
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone 02 8590 7698

A five-course degustation dinner with matched wines for $100 a head? Am I dreaming?

Dining at the new Metisse in Kings Cross is like travelling through time, and not just because of the so-last-century prices.

Some haute bistro dishes on the a la carte menu come across as timeless: a textbook duck confit on a mess of stewy white beans ($28), perhaps, or an excellent beef tartare seasoned with house-pickled onions, capers and gherkin ($18), the beef chopped "a la minute", to order.

A cloud-shaped chandelier casts bubbly shadows on the ceiling.
A cloud-shaped chandelier casts bubbly shadows on the ceiling. Photo: Brook Mitchell

Those on the tasting menu can be the height of cheffiness; all abstract art punctuated with gels, dots and dusts.

It's a strange but interesting dynamic created between Sydney restaurant veteran Opel Khan and his relatively young head chef Benoit Lollichon, fresh from the kitchens of Guy Savoy in Paris; with Khan's 19-year-old daughter, Lucinda, working alongside as sous-chef.

Opel and Julie Khan recently took over this architecturally significant Kings Cross site, previously home to Blanco, Gastro Park and Etelek. They have been busy, laying a shiny new wooden floor, hanging French linen over the glass windows and suspending an Italian crystal Muriel Cloud chandelier of milky bubbles from the ceiling.

Beef tartare with crostini and salad.
Beef tartare with crostini and salad. Photo: Supplied

Don't feel you have to have the food and wine matching, but it's stonkingly good value. Those who like their sulphites can breathe easy, too. The pairings are classic enough to create a safety net that makes it easy to go with the flow.

After a little pot of a rather lovely, warm green pea and white truffle veloute, the natural acidity of a 2018 Four Winds Vineyard off-dry riesling from the Canberra District plays off the sweetness of seared scallops on a puree of celeriac with – for some reason – a miniature avocado brulee tart.

Bold and fruity, the 2017 Chateau Martinon Entre Deux Mers is a more together offering than its match: a little pumpkin parfait teamed with several disparate elements such as beetroot powder, gel and a curl of brioche tuile.

Duck a l'orange terrine.
Duck a l'orange terrine. Photo: Supplied

Next, a reinvented duck a l'orange is transformed into a pressed terrine layered with potato, topped with duck skin, and accompanied by a round of foie gras and orange consomme gel.

The wine match doesn't muck around: Duck = pinot (in this case, a balanced 2016 Neudorf Tom's Block from Nelson, New Zealand). No arguments there.

Then it's the equally classic Beef = Bordeaux, as an elegant rendition of tournedos puts tender eye fillet with spinach, foie gras and a red wine reduction; paired with a supple, earthy 2015 Chateau Trebiac Graves. No arguments there, either.

Angus beef Rossini with foie gras parfait and truffle glaze.
Angus beef Rossini with foie gras parfait and truffle glaze. Photo: Supplied

A tiny poached meringue with classic creme anglaise is a sweet stepping stone to a dessert titled simply "Chocolate". It's a likeable if dated composition of what used to be called a "symphony", of chocolate, ganache, strawberry consomme jelly, chocolate soil and cinnamon ice-cream.

The absence of rules and abundance of hospitality mean there's a contented hum in the room, and warmth where there used to be a jarring coldness.

Yes, it's out of step with the times, but Metisse actually taps into a sizeable dining market that has been cold-shouldered by the cool kids; those who thoroughly enjoy the unfashionable pleasures of old-school dining.

Who knew that those who don't succumb to the charms of natural wines, hard surfaces and tattooed serving staff could be the new misfits and nonconformists?

The low-down

Vegetarian Five-course vegetarian menu, and three meat-free dishes a la carte.

Drinks Well-built cocktails and a French/Oz wine list that mixes the classic (Benjamin Leroux Gevrey Chambertin) with the contemporary (Mornington's Avani Amrit Pinot Noir).

Go-to dish Beef tartare with crostini and salad ($18).

Pro tip Pause to admire the landmark Barcelona building by architects Durbach Block Jaggers with its dazzling skin of tiles.

Terry Durack is chief restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.