Culinary Comebacks with Market Bistro
In just over two years, Market Bistro has staked its place as a contemporary European Bistro with classic dishes at the heart of its mouth-watering menu. Deb Caruso discovers the traditional treats being given a tasty new twist.
I say “tonnato”; you say “tomato” is how my conversation with Market Bistro Head Chef Daniel ‘Dobbers’ Dobra goes until I understand that we are talking about the same dish – but with a flavoursome new twist.
I’m a fan of the classic Italian Vitello Tonnato – lightly poached and thinly sliced veal served with a tuna mayonnaise and capers. So when I see the words “Vitello Tomato” on the menu at Market Bistro I believe it’s a typo. Apparently not.
“I’ve always liked to be a bit whimsical and playful with the food I cook, the wording and how things are presented on a menu and on a plate,” Daniel says.
“I’m on the constant search for perfection in classical food but also in simplicity.”
His interpretation sees the traditional Vitello Tonnato tuna mayonnaise replaced by smoked eel mayonnaise and tomatoes. It’s a tongue-in-cheek, full of flavour evolution – and it works.
“Smoked eel brings in richness, fattiness and smokiness to complement the light and iron-rich flavour of the veal,” Daniel explains. “Adding the sweet acidity of tomatoes in the form of marinated cherry tomatoes, a dry-roasted tomato powder and tomato oil, brings it all together.
“There’s a lot of relevance and reference to the original dish and to compare them, they look and taste similar but also completely different.”
Daniel said the inspiration came from an amuse-bouche he used to make featuring frozen wagyu slices around a quenelle of smoked eel mayonnaise where the combination of iron and smoke proved a real winner.
“Once I had that combination, I looked at how to elevate the flavour and that’s where the tomato comes in,” he said. “The inspiration comes from years of experience and while it feels like everything I have done has led me to this point, I’m always on the search for new flavour combinations.”
Another classic that has been reinvented includes the Pork Schnitzel which Daniel said was an evolution of flavours he had been playing with for a while.
“I love the combination of pork, mustard fruit vinaigrette and some form of fennel seed; we’ve had three or four variations of this on the menu but the Pork Schnitzel is a winner.
“The crumb is heavily laden with fennel seeds and dried chilli which seems a lot but the succulent pork and crispy panko breadcrumb mixed with whole fennel seeds and combined with the sweetness of the mustard fruit vinaigrette – it’s as good as it gets.
“Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of putting a schnitzel on the menu – you can get that a pub but when you put the time and effort in and create the right accompaniments, it’s about finding perfection in simplicity.
“I’m so proud of this dish, it’s been on the menu for four months and every day we sell it and I just think it’s so beautiful.”
If crumbed brie takes you back to the 80s you’re not alone. For Daniel, it takes him back to the 90s, cooking crumbed camembert with plum sauce in his first kitchen job.
“We use a Sardinian Tomino Goats’ Milk Brie which is the perfect size for this dish,” he said. “It’s not just deep-fried cheese, it about how it’s presented and the flavour combination of the creaminess and richness of the cauliflower cream with the sweetness and tartness of the vinegar in the green apple relish; the decadence of the crispy outer giving way to a gooey centre of the cheese creates paradise on a plate.
“There’s a reason these dishes are classics, for us it’s about honouring and evolving them to today’s palates and expectations.”
It’s not just about reinventing old dishes as Market Bistro has created some of its own classics that customers refuse to let go of, such as the Duck Tortelloni with confit duck leg, porcini mushroom, parmesan and garlic; and Gnocchi with parmesan, butter and 20-year-old aged balsamic vinegar.
“We’ve tried to replace the Duck Tortelloni with Prawn Ravioli a few times but the customers know what they want,” Daniel said.
“The same with the gnocchi, a new gnocchi dish will only last a few weeks before customers demand the return of the original.
“The smart chefs know they are cooking for their customers. If you’ve got someone coming into your venue who knows exactly what they want and has an emotional connection to that dish, you have to respect that.
“You’re not cooking ‘your’ gnocchi; you’re cooking ‘their’ gnocchi.
“If you have dishes on your menu that people just want for the rest of their life, that’s job done.”
This reverence for culinary classics and clientele will never go out of style and is what makes Market Bistro so good.