With its quirky name you might think that The Catbird Seat Bistro errs on the flippant side, but it is a seriously fine restaurant. ‘Catbird seat’ refers to a twentieth century American adage for having an advantage. 4101 foodies will know chef/owner Guldberg from his work at Piaf, Sardine Tin, and Aquitaine, but this is his first solo venture.
With just enough space to swing a cat (or a catbird), the intimate bistro lives up to its name with a prime position on bustling Stanley Street. The interior design is trendy black and white, including pickling jars and stylish cushions on its comfortable bench seats. Patrons can choose from chairs or banquettes.
We arrive at The Catbird Seat Bistro for lunch on a Friday afternoon. The blackboard specials tempt us, particularly the decadent Reuben sandwich. Many of the menu items are rarely seen in Brisbane, which is a treat; The Catbird Seat Bistro surprises and pleases with its creative ensembles.
From the lighter end of the menu, the fennel escabeche is outstanding, served with tender juniper-smoked mackerel, slices of radish, and crispy rye biscuits. Intrigued, we also choose the duck neck sausage with soubise sauce and radicchio—the sausage skin has some chewiness but the flavour is marvellous, full of duck and herbs. The wine cellar has been selected with some eclectic options from a range of terroires.
For our mains, we elect for the slow-braised goat married with vintage carrots, poached quince, and onions, and the whole roasted poussin, served with honey speck in du puy lentils and pan juices. The strong goat meat flavours are relieved by the fruity and slightly bitter quince pieces—a masterful balance. The poussin is superbly cooked, the juices lingering in the luscious swamp-like lentils. Our side dishes vie for attention from the sideline—we enjoy the root vegetables with yoghurt dressing and curried seeds.
As the savoury meals have almost beaten our appetites, we select the petits fours for dessert, which arrives at our table in an exquisite timber box. Today’s sweets are refined and balanced: chilli/choc brownie, coconut slice, honeycomb, choc/orange ball, Turkish delight, and choux pastry—all paired elegantly with a splendid coffee.
The Catbird Seat Bistro will become a local favourite for its innovative menu, professional execution, and considerate service. It may be more appropriate that its title is conferred on East Brisbane residents, because they are indeed in an enviable position with The Catbird Seat Bistro within calling distance.