Paradox, Crows Nest

My very good friend, Karina, shares the same birthday as me.  For many years we have tried to always go out for dinner for a joint celebration.  Her husband, Christian, is very good at organising a different venue each year;  it’s always somewhat local, always moderately priced, always BYO and each year we usually try a different cuisine.

The restaurant is in a converted terrace house

The restaurant is in a converted terrace house

This year Christian suggested Paradox in Crows Nest.  Paradox was established in 1992 and is in a little terrace house on a busy suburban street.  We organised to meet at 7.30pm so it was pitch black making photography challenging and coupled with this it was raining cats and dogs.

The Paradox

Paradox – photo taken the next day in daylight!

We raced in through the doorway and dripped raindrops all through the little entrance and I looked around and was very surprised to see what a tiny restaurant this is.  I imagine it seats only around 30.  All tables were full (except the one reserved for us) which is always a very good sign.

There's an Eiffel Tower at the entrance!

There’s an Eiffel Tower at the entrance!

I do have to say I thought the interior could definitely do with a sprucing-up as it looked very dated.  We were seated along a wall of mirrors and while this may give the illusion of more space, I really would have preferred not to have seen myself from so many angles.  The lighting was very bright so I asked the waitress if it could be turned down one or two notches and she happily dimmed the lighting which was appreciated.  There were tablecloths on the tables but they weren’t white but more an antique/yellow in a checked pattern with burgundy napkins.  I think I have previously shared my feelings of burgundy and to make things worse, Christian said the napkin was clashing with my pink shirt!

Pretty plates

Pretty plates

The menu was put in front of us and it was all printed out on one sheet – I do like a one-sheeted menu!  The menu consists of a few choices for appetiser, entree, main course and dessert and it’s all for a set price of $53/person which I think is very good value.  But before the food we ordered even appeared, a basket of complimentary garlic bread was brought to the table.  It was the best garlic bread I’ve ever had but probably because it was laced with garlic and butter.  I did like the way there were some chopped herbs scattered through it to give the bread some colour.

Complimentary garlic bread

Complimentary garlic bread

My first dish to arrive was the Country style liver pate with gherkins, baby capers and toasted bread.  The pate was lovely and smooth and I always enjoy pate with cornichons however I wasn’t overwhelmed with the presentation of this dish.

Country-style liver pate with gherkins, baby capers and toasted bread

Country-style liver pate with gherkins, baby capers and toasted bread

Carl, Christian and Karina all had the green king prawns, cracked peppercorn, bisque and basil.  They absolutely loved it and no one cared to think how much butter was in the dish.

Green king prawns, cracked peppercorn, bisque and basil

Green king prawns, cracked peppercorn, bisque and basil

The next dish to arrive was the steamed asparagus with hollandaise a l’orange.  When I was ordering it I asked where they had sourced the asparagus because it’s absolutely not in season.  The waiter replied, ‘Yes, it’s fresh’ so I didn’t actually get to the bottom of where it came from but I’m assuming it wasn’t local.  When the dish arrived I did wonder where the asparagus was as I could see nothing but sauce.  The spears were short and thin and slightly overcooked and smothered in sauce.  While I do love hollandaise sauce, I would have preferred long, thick spears with a little less sauce so that the hero of the dish is the vegetable rather than the sauce.

Steamed asparagus, hollandaise a l'orange

Steamed asparagus, hollandaise a l’orange

Carl and Karina both had the Tasmanian scallops baked in their shells with a garlic chive sauce.  Once again, there was a lot of sauce that I thought prevented the scallop from standing out as the main feature.

Tasmanian scallops, baked in their shells with a garlic and chive sauce

Tasmanian scallops, baked in their shells with a garlic and chive sauce

Christian had the escargots bourgogne au beurre maison Paradox and good luck to him because that’s the dish that least tempted me on the entire menu.  I’m not one for snails!  But Christian, who has eaten them in France many times said these had great texture without being chewy and were amongst the best escargots he’s ever experienced.

Escargots bourgogne au beurre maison Paradox

Escargots bourgogne au beurre maison Paradox

Between the entree and main, the waiter brought a complimentary palate cleansing sorbet.  It’s been about three decades since I had a palate cleansing sorbet!  This was made with a variety of fruits and was very refreshing.

Complimentary sorbet

Complimentary sorbet

For a main course, Christian and I both ordered the half duckling double baked with forest mushrooms in a port sauce.  The sauce was silky, smooth and rich yet not overpowering but while the duck had beautiful flavour, it was a bit of a tug to release the meat from the bone.

Half duckling double baked with forest mushrooms and port sauce

Half duckling double baked with forest mushrooms and port sauce

Vegetables to share with the main courses

Vegetables to share with the main courses

Carl and Karina both had the barramundi fillet with a kaffir lime beurre blanc.  They didn’t like this much at all and said the fish was bland and overcooked.

Barramundi fillet with kaffir lime beurre blanc

Barramundi fillet with kaffir lime beurre blanc

While not exactly needing anything more to eat, I found room for the creme brulee with cinnamon and cardamon with vanilla ice cream.  It was a very generous serving of brulee and I wasn’t able to finish it.  The brulee had a perfect toffee topping that cracked with the tap of the back of my spoon and the custard was mildly flavoured with the spices and very creamy and smooth.

Creme brulee with cinnamon and cardamon with vanilla ice cream

Creme brulee with cinnamon and cardamon with vanilla ice cream

Christian and Karina had the carmelised warm apple tart with caramel ice cream.  No complaints!  They said this was very much like an apple tart baked by a home cook in the countryside of France; comforting.

Caramelised warm apple tart with caramel ice cream

Caramelised warm apple tart with caramel ice cream

Carl had the pear and fig poached in red wine and black currant juice.  He very much enjoyed this leaving nothing on his plate and said it went very well with the sauterne wine Christian had brought with him.

Pear and fig poached in red wine and black currant juice

Pear and fig poached in red wine and black currant juice

We had no room for tea or coffee. During the evening the service had been very attentive or perhaps a little too attentive as we had water glasses on our table but they were very small water glasses.  We drained them quickly so the waiter always seemed to be leaning over or across the table refilling them.  The meal wasn’t rushed with the courses being well spaced giving us lots of time to talk, reminisce about our 25 years of friendship, and mostly laugh.

A good 'sticky'

A good ‘sticky’

Paradox serves traditional French cuisine from yesteryear.  While the restaurant could do with refurbishing and while the burgundy napkins need to be binned, this is a restaurant offering very good value for money in a relaxed and informal setting.  While some dishes were better than others, the homely atmosphere almost made this forgivable.  For the set price of $53 we enjoyed a four course meal with complimentary garlic bread and sorbet and also, there’s no corkage fee. Verdict:  French cuisine from yesteryear that’s exceptional in value.

Late at night as we left the Paradox

Late at night as we left the Paradox

Paradox:  98 Falcon Street (Cnr Sophia Street), Crows Nest, NSW 2067 Ph:  (02) 9956 8898

Comments

  1. Sounds like a fun night :) I always wanted to try this place, but never made it! I’m glad you had a good night! I would have had the snails as they are my favourite and I’ve only had great ones in France!

  2. The food looks slightly better than the restaurant itself, both inside and out! If they can figure out how to cook everything well, it would be quite a gem!

  3. What a fun evening with great friends and wine and some very nice dishes even though they were not all winners. The decor sounds a bit bland and boring but then the Hungarian restaurant that my SIL and nephew drag me to whenever we’re in the neighbourhood (opened 50 yrs ago and shows it in the unchanging decor) isn’t much better, so my critical faculties aren’t very well honed. :)

    I haven’t had good snails in ages so I would have given them a try. It’s a shame that they felt they had to overwhelm dishes with the sauce. I always wonder if things had dried out/been overcooked when that happens.

  4. Nice Review Charlie. Some of your dishes looked really good and others not so much. I agree that a little revamp to this corner restaurant could really make this the hot spot. However in the end it sounds like you had a relaxing evening and no dishes for you, so that is a very good thing.

  5. I always learn so much about different foods reading your posts. Snails? No, thank you. Liver pate, no thank you. But I’m sure I would have found other of your choices tasty. This place has such potential. Hopefully improvements will be made in decor and food presentation and use of less sauce.

    Asparagus is in season here in Minnesota and I’ve been eating plenty.

  6. I’ve always wondered what this place is like! Such an interesting restaurant. Have you been to Mere Catherine in Potts Point? I love that place. But then again next year you’ll want to try somewhere with different cuisine!

  7. $53? That’s it? Well, that is a bargain. It does sounds like it all was a bit too saucy, but favorful. Sounds like everyone’s dessert was a bit hit. Happy Belated Birthday!

  8. I think this sounds like a mighty good birthday dinner. There were more pluses than minuses where the food was concerned. Happy Birthday, lovie!

  9. Yep, my recent (instagrammed) asparagus with ollandaise looked/tasted far better than yours. Particularly because it’s asparagus season here ;) BUT I want pate and capers, somaybe we’re even?

    Happy birthday (again!)

  10. Definitely great value for money, and makes you more forgiving of the odd mistake. Personally I always find barramundi bland and never order it, but liver pate and escargot all sound good xox

  11. oh dear I am not a huge fan of French food, and sadly this doesnt really tip my boat- is that the expression?:) So as I live in Brissie anyway, I dont have to feel I should give it a try :) I think I must be alone in finding French(ified) food over-rich, and not very stimulating to the palate.

  12. Oh my god I cant believe they are still churning out the same old dated food. The garnishes and the terrible half eaten looking plating, the cream gun cream and the smothery buttery sauces, O.M.G. Very good value to be sure but you would never see me there. I cant believe a whole table is taken up with that ridiculous eiffel tower!!! Happy Birthday Charlie sorry I didnt say that first, thats far more important

  13. Happy [belated] bday! I share my birthday with Julia Gillard – would be thrilled beyond words to have a meal with her #fanGirl. Those prawns look amazing. And boo to mirrors everywhere when you’re eating.

  14. Overall, sounds like the experience was pretty great! Some of these dishes look so enticing :D
    Happy belated birthday!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    P.S I am a sucker for garlic bread!

  15. Blech, I hate it when the drown your food in sauce! Why don’t they just say hollandaise sauce with asparagus? LOL Sounds like it was a good meal, enjoyed by all for the most part. I never order fish in a restaurant… or spaghetti. I am very particular about some things and I just won’t leave them to chance! ;) Glad you had a good birthday!! xo

  16. It sounds like the sort of birthday dinner to throw you back a few decades ;) The desserts sound excellent even if some of the other components of the evening were lacking! I admire your efforts in returning for a daylight photo too.

  17. How lovely that you get to share your birthday with a friend. The food looks amazing! I’m with you on the asparagus though!

  18. I would agree with you that the value seems incredible, and for those prices you can overlook the burgundy napkins. :-) What a fun tradition to yearly share a meal with your birthday “twin,” Karina. I love the look of this little place. It’s nothing to look at, really, but that is what makes it feel like being invited to enjoy a home cooked meal. The asparagus was a bit shameful, however. LOL!

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