NOTE: You will find a newer review of Black Sheep Bistro here.
“Black Sheep Bistro pays homage to the underdog, bringing Nose-to-Tail dining to Oxenford.”
It’s enough to get any foodie excitedly following the scent of a story – nose-to-tail dining. It’s one of the top trends for dining in other cities, so it’s exciting to see it make an appearance, in Oxenford, what’s more!
It doesn’t surprise me that our first ‘nose-to-tail’ restaurant has a New Zealand owner/chef. There’s a wildness to NZ that states ‘I’m from this land. This is who I am. Like it or not!’
And this is not just any chef! She’s a ‘masterchef’!
Chef Sian Bressolles has been blessed with fame in her career. From Palazzo Versace and 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.
So, after we’ve feasted on Crispy Jacob’s Well prawns with chilli and coriander mojo, Twice cooked half Peking duck with orange and ginger glaze, Chargrilled Bonnie Wagyu Steak with Tahitian lime pie to finish, we caught up with Sian to get answers to some of our questions.
How is Black Sheep Bistro different to your career so far?
I trained and qualified as both a chef and pastry chef in New Zealand, and worked at wineries there before coming to Australia 16 years ago.
I’ve been so fortunate to have had a diverse career with many milestones: the first female Executive Chef in Brisbane; part of the start up crew at Versace – an absolutely amazing experience with an open slate; the first Chef de Cuisine at Vie…
I’ve worked with so many international chefs and gained experience in quite diverse cuisines. It’s been fantastic experience! I’ve learned so much!
Now, here I am in a restaurant that’s manageable for one chef. It’s time for me to go out on my own. This is my thing. If I get credit or criticism for it, I’m the one who wears it.
What do you mean by ‘nose-to-tail’ dining, and how does it apply to Black Sheep?
It’s about sustainability and less waste – a different way of looking at the source of our food. There’s so much food wastage in many restaurants!
When you buy a half beast, there are lots of secondary cuts. Nose to tail dining uses those cuts, not just the fillet and porterhouse or even rump. In our Asian-style dishes we use brisket and ox tail. It’s old style food presented in a new way. It’s the way our grandparents ate but we’re making it more palatable for today’s diners.
The menu changes every month or two, depending on the animals. But some dishes won’t go off the menu – the favourites like the Pulled Pork Burger, Bubble ‘n’ Squeak for breakfast, the Steak Sandwich and Egg and Bacon Burger deal…they’ll stay.
And it’s also about the quality of the beast itself. Ours come from a farm in Surrey Springs north of Brisbane, Bonnie Beef Growers. They’re Droughtmaster Brahman Cross, and they stay on the farm all their lives. All grass fed, they’re not moved around. The abattoirs are 20 minutes away from the farm, so there’s minimum cartage. The animals are treated with respect, so it’s tender, relaxed meat, rather than a manufactured product. You can really taste the difference.
Nose-to-tail cooking gives homage to the beast. The animal gave up its life to feed you, so why not celebrate that by using the whole beast. It’s respect for the farmers, growers, fishermen, horticulturalists, whose food I’m using in my restaurant, the meal I serve on your plate.
How has your NZ heritage influenced your cuisine?
Dad was a commercial fisherman. I grew up on a farm. When you realise how much effort, how much tending it takes to grow even one lettuce, you’re a lot less inclined to waste food.
There’s a real ‘back to basics’ humility in New Zealanders. We’ve never gone for grandeur. New Zealand chefs are renowned for their simple, clean dishes using great produce. There’s no ‘ego’ about what we do.
There’s also a huge Kiwi population here on the Gold Coast and few Kiwi restaurants to cater for them. I had thought of opening a restaurant with Kiwi food, because there’s not a lot of Kiwi food here. But I didn’t want to exclude other people who might not understand that cuisine.
So Black Sheep Bistro fits into another niche market – a casual BYO restaurant for locals serving really good food. I’m cooking for them. I love BYO restaurants.
And why Oxenford?
When I first came to the Gold Coast dining was very transitional, with lots of tourists and a lot of dining aimed at them and not locals. But things are changing.
Oxenford is all about locals. There’s a real dining precinct here, and plenty of walk by traffic. There’s tons of parking around. You can see this restaurant from the highway, so it’s got great exposure. Also, there’s nothing like it here. Location is 90% of a restaurant’s success.
It was also the right size; an office that lent itself to being gutted and transformed. We open up all the front windows and in the early morning it’s almost drive through. Some of our tradies ring ahead for their Egg and Bacon Roll and coffee combo and one of the girls takes it out to the car!
So, how have Oxenford residents accepted Black Sheep Bistro?
People love it here. They are relaxed, open and friendly. They come up to the bar to have a chat, toot their horn as they go past. Most of all, there’s a real sense of community.
There’s a real rapport between myself as chef and restaurant diners, almost as though I’m cooking for them at home! They tell me how much they love the food. They even clear their table and bring their dishes up when they’ve finished their meal! It’s so cute!
People are going away from fine dining restaurants. You can afford to go there every so often, but mostly for a special occasion, not all the time.
People love this food and they love the price points (Breakfast $10, $19 and $22; Lunch $12, $17 and $26. It’s great for groups, easy to split the bill, and easy to justify dining out.
We have so many repeat customers who come here once or twice a week. And the weekend breakfast is just crazy!
You’re part of a new trend, aren’t you, of celebrity chefs going back to the burbs.
Yes. You’ve got Ben O’Donoghue, (TV chef and author) who opened Billy Kart Kitchen in Annerley; and Kym Machin (Good Food Guide Chef of the Year 2012), owner/chef of Bare Bones Society, Jindalee.
You come up to a certain level and then you think, ‘I’m putting all this love and effort into my food, and what is it for?’ You never see the results. You’re also looking for a better work-life balance.
I’m finding it really refreshing, being so connected. It’s getting back to produce-driven, simple food, connecting with suppliers as well as diners. You feel like you’re giving people their meal personally, and you get their appreciation back. It’s so much more rewarding. I love it here!
Shop 2/ 108 Old Pacific Highway, Oxenford, Ph: 07 5556 0909
Open: Mon – Fri 6.30am – 11.30pm; Sat – Sun 7am – 11.30am. Open for dinner Thurs – Sat at 5.30pm from 11 October 2018.
NOTE: This review has also been published on Blank Gold Coast.