This Modern-Mediterranean bistro takes food back to its roots, with the kitchen team creating everything from scratch, with all food produced in-house. Head chef and owner Chris Rummey creates a menu that showcases an array of fine dining dishes while the atmosphere is casual and relaxed. Written in chalk on a blackboard, the menu changes regularly, depending on what the chefs discover on their trips to Sydney's famed Flemington markets. Expect freshly-baked rye bread on arrival and, one of the best bits, it's BYO (but for those who forget to swing past the bottle-o, a license is coming soon).
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From the moment we pushed open the glass door into Billie Swings, we were taken on a journey of the senses. From the smell of freshly baked bread to the fresh bunches of English daisies scattered around the room – the restaurant evokes a sense of comfort. It creates the same loving warmth that one feels when being wrapped in a big woollen rug on a chilly night.
Billie Swings is so well hidden on traffic-jammed Spit Road that you have probably driven past it a hundred times without taking a side glance. But let me assure you, make that side glance, and make a booking. While the restaurant's menu began featuring classic French bistro style meals, chef and owner Chris Rummey changed direction to appeal to his Mosmanite crowd. More "serious" dishes such as beef three-ways and pappardelle with pork and beef ragu today create his modern Mediterranean menu.
As we ponder over the chalkboard-written, blackboard menu (which changes weekly), smells of garlic and butter being cooked in the frypan seep from the kitchen, putting our taste buds on high alert. An amuse bouche of chestnut purée served in white china espresso cups is unlike anything we had tasted before – the flavour was sweet yet creamy and it had a thick, almost-chunky texture. In silent appreciation, we swirled the caramel-coloured puree around our mouths. Next arrived two perfectly poised piping-hot bread rolls. On first bite, we were taken back to Paris to reminisce about the fresh baguettes from our corner boulangerie. As we recollected our Parisian days, Chris arrived with perfectly pink earl grey smoked duck breast lying over a bed of brown rice and star-anise soaked orange. The snapper fillets with saffron cauliflower florets, roasted pine nuts and steamed squid created a unique combination that was neither Middle Eastern nor French but the flavours were all there.
Loud soulful Parisian beats filled the restaurant space and all of the week's stresses felt like a million miles away. After we said goodnight to Chris, I stalled when opening the restaurant's door as I hesitated leaving this little refuge to face the looming traffic and endless road rage of Sydney drivers. Sadly we had to leave but eagerly I will return.