The Irish and the French are big drinkers, but in a different way. The former have colonised the pub world with novelty fiddle-dee-dee wooden havens for Guinness bingers, while the latter favour a more refined wine and dine experience … more clinking of glasses than pulling of pints. The PJ Gallagher chain group may think the time of mass popularity of Irish themed pubs is over, or maybe that it has to keep up with the ever-evolving sophisticated alley bar scene in Sydney's CBD. For whatever reason, the former PJ Gallagher's venue across from the Apple Store has gotten rid of the Gaelic and replaced it with Gallic.
The quite frankly poorly named Le Pub (but that never stopped Gastropark) still has "le pokies room" and the appearance of a traditional basement pub: no windows and darkly lit. But then there's the pleasant tiled back area, with Scramble-like words connected to the French theme, and a gastro menu. There's not a huge indicator that the theme of the bar is anything Gallic related outside of the menu, really, which may explain the simplicity of the name, as almost to say to customers, "look, it's slightly Frenchie but you can get a pint here too".
The opening hors d'oeuvres are very rich in flavour. The fois gras salad ($16) has hydrated and grated liver over an unusual combination of sliced apple, hazelnuts, blood orange segments and honeycomb. If that's not rich enough, then there's the carmelised pear and Roquefort tart with dollops of crème fraiche and truffled honey ($15) which is overwhelmingly sweet and savory, in a good way.
The mains are extremely mod-French: the collet d'Agneau ($24) is a slow-cooked lamb neck with crisp quinoa and herbs in delicious gravy, balanced with cauliflower puree and a pea salad. The confit of duck leg l'orange ($25) has some tender rustic carrots, fois gras, and those dehydrated oranges again, this time mandarin. There's also a varied selection of steaks that look appetising.
The desserts are only slightly less impressive, the chocolate and peanut tart ($16) very similar to the deconstructed Snickers bar at Ananas. It's still pretty tasty and has a salty kick.
Overall, this is an ambitious menu for modest surroundings, but then the prices are modest too.
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