If there’s an unsung hero of the northern dining scene, it’s the Black Sheep Bistro. Located not far from the Oxenford turnoff, the Black Sheep is a local favourite, especially for its weekend breakfasts and lunches.
To Australians, ‘black sheep’ carries the connotation of a stray, or disreputable family member. However, my New Zealand childhood brings different memories of black sheep prized by spinners and weavers for their wool, its dusky shades earthy and subtle.
Black Sheep Bistro’s owner/chef Sian Bressoles herself acknowledges that difference:
“We’re one of a kind…
Black Sheep Bistro pays homage to the underdog bringing thoughtful dining to Oxenford.”
We especially love owner/chefs for the high quality and consistency of their food. As diners, we travel with them on their own food journeys as they navigate the complex and often bumpy waters of the Gold Coast dining scene.
So it is with the Black Sheep Bistro. Many things remain the same as when the restaurant opened: well-constructed, great-tasting food and the unique three-price point menu. (Whether you want a cheap and cheerful lunch with a friend at the $12 price point or an indulgent brunch that covers two meals, it’s easy to make a choice based on either the price or your chosen dish.)
The restaurant is now also fully licensed, pairing drink suggestions with lunch dishes, as well as a $6/glass daily wine or beer special. But with BYO wine allowed as well, it offers the best of both worlds.
Five years since opening, owner/chef Sian Bressoles has moved from the challenging ‘nose to tail’ dining principle to the notion of a ‘taste journey’.
“A taste journey takes people to different places,” Sian tells us. “From New Zealand porterhouse to Pad Thai, popular dishes should taste the way they do in their country of origin – no fusion of flavours; I prefer retaining the purity of the dish.”
It helps, of course, that Sian has travelled the world through her kitchen. Having grown up on a farm, she trained and qualified as both a chef and pastry chef in New Zealand, her diverse career bearing many milestones: the first female Executive Chef in Brisbane; part of the start up crew at Versace; the first Chef de Cuisine at Vie…she has fronted kitchens in Brisbane such as The Jephson Hotel, the Saville (Mantra), Mao Mao and Stone, as well as working in Cha Cha Char. It’s an impressive resumé including groundbreaking positions, her career highlights covered in The Courier Mail, The Australian and Gourmet Traveller.
“I’ve worked with so many international chefs and gained experience in quite diverse cuisines, but above all, I want freshness. I also want to keep that wholefood feel. No microherbs…nothing just for the look. Everything should be on the plate for a reason. The ideal dish carries the unique taste of the dish above everything else.”
Some dishes, such as the Healthy Sheep Foraging Plate, push boundaries with sautéed samphire, roasted wood mushrooms and edible weeds. My classic Nicoise salad with a perfectly cooked Atlantic salmon is one of the best I’ve ever had, and other choices are perennial favourites, such as the Steak Sandwich that has been on the menu since the restaurant opened.
Dishes are clearly marked with which ones are (or can be made) gluten free or vegan – no fuss, no trouble.
Dining in a group of four, we feast on Pork & Prawn Char Kway Teow (using Byron Bay pork belly and Jacob’s Creek prawns), Atlantic Salmon Poke Bowl and a rustic Pumpkin & Quinoa Salad. The food is rustic and wholesome, packed with flavour.
With cakes so famous that catering forms a sideline business, of course we leave room for some of Sian’s baked treats for dessert: Chocolate brownies, muffins and a crème brulée tart when we visited.
We’ll always love black sheep for their difference. With a menu changing seasonally to make maximum use of fresh produce, there’s always a surprise in store for us from Sian’s kitchen, and we love nothing more than good food and great surprises!
2/108 Old Pacific Highway, Oxenford Ph: 07 5556 0909 Fully licensed. BYO wine only.