The moment you walk into Becketts, you immediately sense the owner Wendy Beckett (acclaimed Playwright-director) and her team understand the important fundamentals that underpin the experience a mature Restaurant aims to provide its diners. Located on a historic site in Glebe, and previously home to the celebrated Darling Mills, the magnificent sandstone and brick interior provide a canvas for Head Chef Jeff Schroeter to apply his considerable skillset (ex Savoy, Bistro Moncur and Bayswater Brasserie).
We start with huge hand dived wild Tasmanian Belon oysters, with the briny taste of the sea and texture setting the tone for what is to follow. Archie Rose Gin and beetroot house cured Salmon hits the exact acidity point to wow, demonstrating the Chef’s understanding of the importance of that critical balance to a dish, often remiss with younger Chef’s with less experience. The roasted sea scallops with peas is done in a Petits pois à la française style, is an absolute triumph. Similarly, the large Spencer Gulf King Prawns, maintain the momentum of excellence.
The well-informed Sommelier Sasha Siljanovic, is as important in matching the wines from a very well-curated list, bringing that intangible synergy between the wine and food closer; the unspoken space where the real magic resides. Likewise, the whole Front of House team hold themselves to a professional standard that is noteworthy, providing the foundation for the food, wine, and ambience to shine. It is a nostalgic homage to a gastronomic era, when settling in for a meal was not connected to electronic devices, rather embracing the expectation of the next dish to arrive. If cocktails happen to be more your thing, talented bartender Charlie Ainsbury will win you over with a cocktail list that both entice and excites.
The flawless duck liver parfait with pickled cornichons and caperberries delivers on its promise, as does the seared foie gras sitting on poached strawberries, drizzled with aged balsamic. It’s a point when you nod to the kitchen with respect and could easily leave entirely satisfied. Of course hedonism prevails, and the escargots, with a perfectly risen pastry dome yells Vive la France, as does the bouillabaisse, with all the seafood elements timed perfectly. The call for more bread is immediate, as no residual broth that good, will be left in our bowls on this good night.
We cannot countenance foregoing the Duck à l’Orange, and that proves to be a wise decision. Once again, a moment to pause and admire the precise execution of a classic dish that is worthy of such close attention. The orange cumquat glaze, counterpointed by the sunrise lime gin, gives balance to the mouth-watering texture that is simply divine. It is garnished with toasted pistachios, accompanied with some shiitake, a nice twist from the Chef. The Wagyu course that follows, is served with a textbook Perigueux sauce, and a memorable pommes dauphinoise, a worthy dish on which to conclude the savoury element.
The desserts are well-executed, following a classical path with modern twists. The poached pear was delightful, likewise the coffee crème brûlée, and decadently rich chocolate cake. It you love French Bistro fare, and non-negotiable service standards to accompany, then Becketts ticks all those boxes. Over and above that, it is an accomplished restaurant that exudes warmth and conviviality, and that is surely one of the main reasons we dine out, and will return again for more.
By Dane Richards