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Bibo is easier to find these days than when it first opened, when there was no signage. Now, menus and a Relais & Chateaux logo mark the entrance, though you will need to locate the discreet button to let you in. Art confronts you at every turn, and it’s hard not to be impressed. Big contemporary names include Damien Hirst, Banksy, Basquait, Vhils and KAWS, and much of it is specially commissioned for the space. Expecting a buzzy international crowd and upbeat electronic music, it was instead strangely quiet for a Friday night, with the music barely audible until about 10pm when the bar filled up. Best tables are against the walls, giving you a view of the room, while the middle tables can be too close together.
As a prelude of things to come, the amuse-bouche does not augur well – an unpleasantly sweet shot of melon juice with foam and almond slivers. The home-made bread, which is usually excellent, is heavy this time, saved by the two butters that come with it, one studded with earthy bits of mushroom, the other simply salted. A starter of le pressé de foie gras is disappointing, two dense slabs of terrine, which, instead of melting on the tongue, sticks to the roof of our mouth. Things improve with le calamar, spirals of pan-fried squid and chunks of Hokkaido scallop given a sweet, salty and zesty lift with a chorizo, capsicum and lemon dice. Main courses are better again. Le ris de veau is a slab of slightly creamy and chewy French braised veal sweetbreads, made richer with périgord black truffle, caramelised onion compote, bacon julienne and parmesan foam. Even more decadent is le filet de boeuf, a nicely charred hunk of pan-fried beef tenderloin with shavings of Australian black truffle, topped with lightly caramelised foie gras that almost dissolves in the mouth. We opt for two crowd pleasing desserts to finish. Our le paris-brest, instead of being the more traditional round puff, is like an éclair filled with hazelnut cream and brittle praliné cubes, with a refreshing cassis sorbet to cut through the sweetness. Le soufflé is a light and airy Grand Marnier soufflé with a nutty, toffee-like top and a dollop of bittersweet dark chocolate sorbet on the side.
Bibo has an almost encyclopaedic list of French wines sure to impress any oenophile and the standalone champagne list is bigger than many restaurants’ wine lists. Don’t be shy and seek the advice of the sommelier, who guided us to an Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage, which was tart and dry to start then opened up to reveal more red fruit characters that complemented our main courses.
Service was underwhelming. There was no one around when we entered and it wasn’t until we walked into the restaurant proper that we were attended to. Our booking details were incorrect and we were then seated next to another couple barely inches from us, although the place was half empty, so we asked to be moved to another table.
Dinner for two with a glass of wine each comes to about $2,400, which is on the high side money wise for what you get