Firefly Bar, Neutral Bay

Cocktails and tapas are the perfect combo for a fun night out

Located 24 Young St, Neutral Bay NSW 2089

Firefly in Neutral Bay is a restaurant and bar with a penchant for romance and fun. Located in Sydney’s North Shore, it occupies a corner that is actually very conveniently located next to a car park. During off peak times, the car park is free which makes it ideal to go to — that is, unless you plan on drinking.

There’s both outdoor and indoor seating available. The seating arrangements are rather cosy, but with different heights to create a nice difference in perspective which appeared to make the establishment a bit more spacious. A large part of the interior is dedicated to the wide bar, which boasts an impressive array of alcoholic drinks. These drinks contribute to the extensive and colourful range of cocktails on offer.

But for tonight, our aim was to try the food, to see if the creativity of the drinks also extended to their dishes. Very often bars like this mask typical flavours with the colour of their drinks. We wondered if Firefly would be any different.

Our first course was a bowl of zucchini fries with aioli dipping sauce. It was the first time that we’ve tried this. It was boiling to the touch and taste — fresh from the fryer. But even the thick crispy outer skin could not hide its origins from a humble zucchini. It was incredible how the flavour of the zucchini was maintained in the chip. The aioli is a good complement to the saltiness of the chips, which, at the bottom, could be intense. An interesting way to start the night.

This was followed up by a plate of baked mushrooms. Mushrooms are always a hit with us. This mushroom was large and gamey in flavour — a bit of an acquired taste, but one that we really like. The addition of cheese on top added an extra hit of sharpness that enhanced the gamey flavour of the mushroom. The sauce was also good — a shame that there was nothing else to dip into it!

Next we had the duck pancakes. Now, we’re quite snobbish when it comes to this type of Asian food that has been altered for different tastes. In this case, the most controversial addition was the bean sprout. The texture of duck pancake is normally very soft and smooth, to highlight the tenderness of the duck. Though it offered a clean and fresh flavour, the bean sprouts unfortunately masked the tenderness of the duck. For this reason, even the sauce could not hero the duck in the pancake. It was an interesting combination — tasty and highlighted the freshness of the ingredients, but we prefer the traditional rendition of the duck pancake.

The first “main” course was the pork and fennel sausage roll. We normally dislike fennel because of the overwhelming strength of its flavour, which has a tendency to overpower other ingredients. Interestingly though, this dish was a major hit for both of us. The pork, which had a harsh, wild taste, was highlighted by the pairing with fennel. This dish brought together two normally hard flavours to produce a wonderful combination. It was a joy with every bite, and we were converted. The herbaceous garnishes added another layer of complexity that really transported us to a wild and untamed place. We were a bit more divided in terms of the caramel sauce. Whilst LeeLoo loved the sauce, I was not such a big fan. The sweetness is an interesting addition, and was subtle for the most part. In this case, it might have been better to have less of it, because it could confuse the palate. Fortunately, however, it was drizzled over in sections of the plate, so you could adjust the level of sweetness to taste. This was otherwise a very clever and interesting dish.

Our last main course was the buttermilk chicken schnitzel. It was a monster of a dish. We were both shocked at its size when it was brought to the table. Lovingly chopped up into smaller pieces for sharing, the schnitzels were placed on top of a bed of house slaw. We could not get enough of that stuff. The buttermilk taste was subtle but apparent, and the deep fried nature of the schnitzel was well offset by the presence of a moist and generous slaw. There was a clear influence of international flavours with a mixed of different spices in the dish which made it taste as exotic as the sausage rolls. A very interesting and again well thought-out dish.

During our meal, we were also served two drinks: a Neutral Bay Sailing Club and a Lemongrass & Basil Mule. Both looked interesting and creative. However, it was difficult for us to make a judgement on these drinks, first because we are not necessarily alcohol aficionados, and second because only one of us had any! The aroma of the lemongrass and basil mule was really, really interesting. It was a drink that was really warm to the belly — perfect for a cold night. In stark contrast, the Sailing Club was a lot more playful, with more icy and fruity flavours. Ultimately, it comes down to personal taste.

We finished off the night with a dessert: a warm chocolate brownie. This dessert was to die for: a perfect combination of hot and cold, with each component not too sweet and overpowering. Salted caramel was featured again, and fortunately, it was rather subtle, and did not detract from the brownie, which was the hero of the dish.


Overall

Firefly is a lively place to dine, and it is really reflected in its menu. There are many interesting takes on classic bar and pub food, with a clear international influence in some of the subtle additions of flavours or spice. Some of the dishes were a bit of a miss for us, simply because of personal preference, but there was no denying the quality of ingredients and deliberation put into each item of food. Sharing of these dishes is encouraged, which therefore makes this a great place to dine with friends for a night out.

Verdict: Mind Blown
Service: 4/5
LeeLoo and Tommy H dined as guests.

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