Ananas Bar & Brasserie
- The Rocks
- PRICE RANGE:
Oh, deja vu. Haven’t I been here before? Yep. It’s not often I review the same restaurant in the space of six months. But Ananas today is not the same rough end of the pineapple I reviewed last November (Ananas being French for pineapple, of course).
Mind you, it looks pretty much the same, which is to say there’s still a seductive, buzzy champagne bar and plush cocktail lounge upfront, complete with pewter counter, ice-laden oyster bar, pineapple-shaped lamps and massed roses. The moodily lit dining room is still a large, lavish, space lined with brasserie banquettes, heavy drapes and Belle Epoque murals. The relentlessly French menu still features fruits de mer platters, truffled mash, several grilled steaks and, as I recall, a stunning salted caramel eclair.
So what’s new? It feels different. It feels more together and more polished, seemingly running on smoother tracks. There is a very good French word to describe conscious, attentive, personal service, and that is ”engage´”, or engaged. Also recently engaged is the former QT Hotels food and beverage director, Vince Lombino, who somehow manages to be in eight places at the same time, while simultaneously looking as relaxed as a member of Frank Sinatra’s Las Vegas Brat Pack. No mean feat.
But the big difference is in the kitchen in the shape of talented, thirty-something Irish-born chef Paul McGrath, formerly of the two-hatted Bistro Ortolan in Leichhardt.
Immediately, I am reminded of McGrath’s particular talent for big, gutsy flavours in a clever, confident little appetiser of French onion soup, the slow-cooked, onion-laden broth poured at the table over a deliciously cheesy crouton.
Similarly an autumnal frisee salad ($26) reworks the traditional French salade de gesiers, replacing the chicken gizzards with shreds of confit chicken thigh. Chunky bacon lardons add a touch of smokiness to the rigorously dressed leaves, while a nicely runny poached egg perched on a raft of thin crisp bread, adds richness.