The Sydney CBD café scene is evolving with a constantly growing list of trendy new cafes for business meetings, lunches or after work drinks. The new look Grand Duk is one such venue, the brainchild of Vietnamese born Amy also owner of the Naked Duck Cafes.
Having opened in October on George St towards The Rocks, she has created a new look menu inspired by her Vietnamese heritage with a selection of fusion dishes and menu classics to please everyone’s tastes. The modern interior is bright with skylights welcoming natural light from above and a cool bar with shelves of wine bottles lining the curved glass exterior. Office-goers come and go for their coffee fix and takeaway lunches, whilst business meetings and lunch catch-ups take place on the plentiful tables and chairs inside and out.
The all day menu features your favourite breakfast essentials such as Avocado Smash ($13), Bacon and Egg Roll dubbed ‘Sunrise Burger’ ($12), Croque-Monsieur ($13) or Eggs with your selection of sides. Moving on there is a range of Baguettes ($12) in classic Vietnamese style ‘Banh Mi’, or Ricepaper Rolls with a variety of fillings to choose from. Heavier lunch style items then continue with a range of salads, steak frites and different burgers all at incredibly reasonable price points.
We began with the Trifle ($12) and Rice Rolls ($4 each). The trifle is a take on a typical breakfast classic with layers of muesli, berries and coconut yoghurt. The strawberries and blueberries were sweet and syrupy, soaking the homemade muesli and complementing the tartness of the coconut yoghurt. Meanwhile the Rice rolls in three flavours of Sichuan Duck, QLD Tiger Prawn or 5 Spice Tofu & Enoki were delectable when dipped in the hoisin peanut sauce served alongside.
The Breakfast Bowl ($13) is the perfect breakfast for those embarking on health-kick’s or wanting something delicious yet light. Featuring a poached egg on a bed of green leaves, nuts & seeds, avocado, pickles such as radish, carrot and cucumber. It was lightly tossed in a Vietnamese style dressing similar to a papaya salad. Mixing the ingredients together created a delicious flavor union- who knew healthy could be so delicious?!
Next was the Salt & Pepper Squid ($16) with green papaya salad, chilli, lemon and nuoc cham. It is your standard salt & pepper menu staple, but nothing to rave about. The squid itself was a little plain and needed some kind of dipping sauce, perhaps some chilli or aioli to accompany would have helped. The salad alongside however, was fresh and tasty, especially the addition of dill, which added new heights to the mix and greatly augmented the flavor.
As we progressed away from the breakfast offerings, the 5 Spice Tofu Salad ($16) appeared. A perfect choice for any vegetarians, the salad consisted of bean sprouts, pickles, enoki, snowpeas, water chestnuts, herbs, peanuts & sesame vinaigrette. One thing becoming apparent through the salads on the menu and those accompanying dishes, is that the chef has absolutely nailed the Vietnamese flavor fusion, with all salads perfectly balanced in flavor, texture and freshness.
Moving into substantials, the Ginger Baked King Salmon ($25) with broccolini, gailan, snowpeas, wombok & pho duck broth was served. The light ginger crust that marinated the salmon was sweet and sticky, with the savoury bath of broth cutting through. The freshness of the greens was delicious and again the welcomed addition of a light salad with fresh mint, coriander, bean sprouts and dill topped it off.
The Lemongrass Pork Belly with egg fried rice, green papaya salad and homemade XO sauce ($25) was interesting. Not your typical Pork Belly, it entailed sliced pieces of pork meat that had been marinated in a tasty lemongrass mixture. The egg fried rice was a little lost of egg, but the homemade XO sauce made up for that with a strong finger-licking smack of flavour. The green papaya salad cut through any richness, but this dish was definitely not as rich as one expects when ordering the typical Pork Belly on a menu.
The final savoury dish of the Duck Meatball Baguette ($12) was one of my favourites. Soft juicy duck meatballs encased in a freshly baked baguette from The Bread & Butter Project, with salted cucumber, pickled daikon, carrot, green onion, chilli, coriander, kewpie & maggi. When I think of Meatball Rolls/ Sandwiches I think of Subway (terrible, I know!) but this took it to a whole other level – with the light fresh salad inside, delicious mayo, and the perfect crunch to the bread- it was a delectable fusion. With baguettes available DIY and takeaway at the counter for on-the-go city workers, this is the perfect filling lunch to keep you content!
Now on to my favorite part of any meal- dessert. To finish we sampled the two desserts on the menu Chilled Mango Pudding ($11) and the incredibly naughty Coconut Crumble Deep Fried Ice-cream ($9). The Chilled mango pudding consisted of a mango puree mixture beneath a bed of ginger sago and lychee, with the finest pickings of kaffir lime threads sprinkled on top. It was an enchanting take on the Asian mango pudding you find at Yum-Cha, but so much more, with the sago adding texture and small bursts of Kaffir lime cutting through the sweetness.
The Coconut Crumble Deep Fried Ice-cream consisted of deliciously luscious vanilla bean ice-cream encased in a coconut batter. This was lightly deep-fried, served with a thick salted caramel and sprinklings of coconut. Whilst the batter wasn’t as crisp as one may hope, the new take on this growing Sydney favorite was definitely a standout, particularly the addition of the rich salted caramel topping. The Vietffogato ($7) was served to conclude, happily awakening everyone out of their food comas. Featuring Grand Duk roast coffee an interesting apparatus sits over a glass of vanilla bean gelato individually drop filtering coffee into the glass. This and their Cold Drip ($5) with lightly roasted and naturally processed single origin coffee, slowly drip filtered, showcased their dedication to high quality good tasting coffee. The Grand Duk blend is made from seven origins around the world, exclusively roasted for them and happily made by their in-house barista.
Other drinks include Grand Duk Juice blends, Blended Drinks such as a Salti-Choc ($6.50) with salted caramel, milk and chocolate milkshake and a detailed wine list featuring cocktails, red & white wine, beer, cider, rosé and sparkling-champagnes.
The complex at Grosvenor Place will be home to another two restaurants currently in construction, and Amy hopes to open for dinner and drinks shortly. This space is bright and welcoming, and with its extensive drinks list, has potential to transform into a great bar and hub in the city for after work catchups. Great for breakfast, lunch and soon dinner, steal yourself away from your desk and check it out!
Grosvenor Place Plaza
Shop 1, 225 George Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 8964 7242
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 7am – 4.30pm
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Grand Duk