BIVOUAC has become a bit of a favourite for dinner before a show at the nearby State Theatre.
Like the cute beagles at the airport, waiters can spot a theatre-goer the minute they walk in the door.
Which means fast service — but never rushed — and so relaxed, friendly and down-right helpful you feel you have all the time in the world before the bell rings.
Bivouac is about sharing plates and even the main menu dishes are designed for just that.
On this occasion my friend and I were off to Clinton the Musical, a hoot of a show well worth the ticket price.
My mate worked in the US during the Clinton years, and the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal peppered our shared meal.
Discussion of Bill being roasted on the petard of his own making with Monica, that blue dress, and a cigar, coincided with the arrival of our roasted swordfish ($32).
The fish was soft and delicate, beautifully cooked and decoratively smothered in a rich-green Middle Eastern chermoula.
The flavours were wonderfully exotic, with a hint of smokiness.
A generous serve of crispy potatoes and a pistachio aioli were a great accompaniment.
When the Lebanese mountain gnocchi arrived we were moving on to the Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump race for the White House, which has been even spicier than the chermoula we were still enjoying.
Gnocchi is usually associated with Italy, but in the Lebanese mountains you’ll find version called maakroun.
Traditionally the thick, home-made pasta pieces are fried and served sweet, or boiled and served with an intense garlicky lemon sauce.
Bivouac’s maakroun ($29) was a melding of the two, fried and served with a wonderfully rich, oily garlic sauce, the dough pleasantly firm, but not chewy.
A liberal amount of roast pumpkin, fetta and roast hazelnuts added to the taste sensation.
We washed our meal down with a Giesen SSB, which at $13 for a meagre amount at the bottom of a very big glass, did seem a bit steep.
But nothing could dampen the fantastic flavours lingering on our tongues as we headed into the night.
by JENNY D’ANGER
Bivouac Canteen and bar
198 William Street, Northbridge
Tues–Sat 12noon till late