Food review: Bistro Chico

9/26-30 Tedder Ave, Main Beach Ph: 07 5532 9111

If you were fans of Daran Glasgow’s cuisine in Chill on Tedder then, like us, you’ll be blown away by Bistro Chico.

The acclaimed former chef of Bistro B and Songbirds before opening Chill with his wife Leesa, Daran’s talent is undeniable. Eleven years after opening Chill, the couple felt the need for change, opening Chico first as a bar, transitioning it into a bistro and closing Chill.

It’s a smart move.

There’s no denying the change in dining patterns, nor the ‘shifting sand’ demographics on the Main Beach strip post GFC, however gradual renewal has taken place along Tedder Avenue with some solid performers now well established.

Tucked away on the northern end of the strip, it’s easy not to notice Bistro Chico, however its chic quiet presence draws regular diners from across the coast and Brisbane to savour its fine cuisine.

There’s a sexiness in the venue that was not evident in Chill. Luminous feline eyes watch us from the back wall. Ornate aquamarine tiles line the wall behind the bar and colourful wheels hang overhead adding a sense of colourful festivity to the restaurant. Overall, there’s a sense of a lush, exotic eatery; a piece of Barcelona meets the Gold Coast.

With the bar and kitchen stretching out along the length of the deep narrow venue, a banquette along one wall optimises the space in this intimate venue. On the other side, bar seating for a dozen enables interaction between restaurant staff and diners grabbing cocktails and tapas from the snack menu.

“I love the informality of the place, the familiarity that staff can enjoy as they go about their work,” Leesa Glasgow tells us. “There’s flexibility in this more casual bistro that’s able to bridge new trends and offer more informal share plate dining,” she says.

Intimacy and connection are huge assets with a two-way payoff. Regulars gain a sense of belonging, and chefs such as Daran, formerly closeted away in the back kitchen, enjoy access to diners and the chance to witness both their enjoyment of the food and feedback. It’s both an incentive and a tool for change.

“The food is even better than before,” Leesa says. “I love watching Daran interact with customers. He’s enjoying it so much more.”

We’ll take her word for it, but the sense of community and camaraderie is certainly evident in this cheery bistro. Staff are friendly and relaxed, taking the time to greet and chat to regulars, who they know by name.

It’s also obvious that Daran is having fun with the food. Lit with a smile, away from a cloud of expectation, he’s free to create new combinations from the best local produce he can source, changing dishes to suit seasonal supply of ingredients. If anything, he’s stepped it up a level from Chill with more sensually creative ‘on point’ dishes.

Daran is the master of duck and scallops and they remain some of his most popular dishes, albeit in new guises. Scallops with pork terrine and master stock celeriac purée, and Duck breast with truffle mash, braised red cabbage and broad bean jus are on the menu when we visit, along with his famous Zucchini flowers, this time served on soft polenta with baby beets, goat’s cheese, pomegranate and candied walnuts. Each dish is cooked and plated to Daran’s exacting standards.

“He’s pedantic,” Leesa says. Yes, but he’s also so right in his combinations and seasoning (so often forgotten) and, of course, it’s the diner who gains all the benefits.

A bistro setting brings not only the flexibility to use classical French technique in some dishes, beside invention in the chef’s own take on ‘dishes of the moment’: Cured kingfish with ponzu jelly, bonita and radish, micro-coriander and wasabi ice cream is a taste sensation. It’s a light refreshing option among the seafood, balancing classic sauces and meat dishes that delight us with their richness and depth.

Old and new classics served in a warm, casual yet atmospheric setting; the perfect combination for the informed diner who wants to relax and enjoy a meal with friends and family.

What the Glasgows have achieved in Bar Chico is to make ‘the occasion’ an everyday event. We’ve no sooner left than we talk of returning with friends and family.

Note: Bistro Chico advertises several specials worth noting:

Lunch $39pp for two courses; $45pp for two courses and a glass of wine.

Bistro Chico also holds cooking classes. Check out their website for details.

All tapas plates $10 on Tues – Wed 4 – 6pm, Thurs – Sat 3 – 6pm

Marj dined as a guest of Bistro Chico.

Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast

1 Comment

Leave a Reply