A Sydney Institution Celebrates 30 Years of French Bistro Dining

Head chef at Bistro Moncur, Tom Deadman, talks with T Australia about the restaurants currently on his radar, maintaining drive and his recipe for Bistro Moncur’s Tuna Tartare.

Article by T Australia

BistroMoncur-Tuna Tartare 3Bistro Moncur's Tuna Tartare. Photography courtesy of Bistro Moncur.

For Bistro Moncur’s London-born head chef Tom Deadman, a passion for cooking is something that “filtered” through from his mother. “I have fond memories with her baking, and loved being in the kitchen from a young age,” he recalls. “I remember baking Victoria sponge cake with her at the age of seven, then feeling sick after licking the cake from the bowl.”

Graduating from homemade sponges, Deadman has cultivated an impressive industry CV, with stints at then-Michelin-starred restaurant Read’s in Kent, England, Hotel Centennial in Woollahra and Surry Hills brasserie Becasse. Prior to taking on the role at Bistro Moncur – which celebrates its 30th birthday this year – Deadman was living in rural Provencale, France. “My wife, son and I relocated to her family farm in a tiny village of 300 people called Vesc,” he says. “We were surrounded by mountains and lived off the land. I learned so much about charcuterie and growing vegetables. It’s a time I won’t forget, and at times miss dearly.”

Recognised for its monochromatic mural interior and walnut stained Bentwood chairs, 30 years looks good on Bistro Moncur, which still serves up guest favourites such as the chicken liver pâté with fig jam and brioche and grilled sirloin Cafe de Paris with fries, alongside Deadman’s confit Saikou salmon with smoked salmon caviar and Aquna Murray cod. Deadman keeps the menu fresh with dishes that harnesses the seasonal best. “As we are moving into autumn, it’s all about the mushrooms,” he tells T Australia. “They’re incredibly versatile and I love sourcing from our suppliers. We just started getting incredible pine mushrooms from the Southern Highlands and they pair beautifully with Rangers Valley beef cheeks braised in red wine.”

Below, Deadman talks with T Australia about the restaurants currently on his radar, maintaining drive and he shares his recipe for Bistro Moncur’s Tuna Tartare.

Bistro Moncur Interiors 2
Bistro Moncur's signature monochromatic interior. Photography courtesy of Bistro Moncur.

On maintaining drive…

I have a rule in the kitchen: to teach at least one person something new every day. I have been taught by some fantastic chefs and to be in a position to teach the next generation of chefs is a fantastic opportunity which I am so grateful for.

On unwinding after service…

I find it hard to switch off after service. I normally have so many thoughts running through my head regarding menus, staff and the normal day to day. On a typical night would be get home and jump in the shower, then make a cup of tea. As I lay in bed, I plan out menus in my head, things for the next day and if I’m still awake but the end of this I make up a mock garden in my head and plan the planting of vegetables and fruits. It’s a little strange, but it usually sends me off to sleep nicely!

On what he cooks at home…

I try to cook healthy meals at home. I spend most my day tasting rich and decadent food so when I get home, I’m usually craving some greens and a big hit of chilli. My wife is a fitness nut, so it works out quite well.

Bistro Moncur Interiors 4
Photography courtesy of Bistro Moncur.

On what excited him about his work…

To be part of an institution like Bistro Moncur is a remarkable experience. To be able to put my stamp on the menu gives me great pleasure. It drives me to research classic French cuisine and find some dishes I have never heard of!

On the other venues on his radar…

Bar Vincent is always a favourite of mine. Great Italian food that is not overcomplicated. I also love what Nic Hill is doing at Porcine. Some of the dishes are incredibly technical, and everything is packing with flavour!

Bistro Moncur’s Recipe for Tuna Tartare

A perfect balance of vinegar, salt and sugar pairs with the fresh yellowfin tuna and heat from pickled chilli.

Serves 4


320g yellowfin tuna
20g salt
20g caster sugar
10g washed Lilliput capers
20g pickled green chilli *
30ml ALTO lemon oil
1 tablespoon fine chopped chives
Fine herbs to garnish (we used picked tarragon, chervil, chive batons and parsley
Lavosh crackers (or crackers of your choosing)


Cut the tuna into 3cm logs and season with the salt and caster sugar. Leave it for 45 minutes before washing thoroughly and patting it dry

Finely dice the tuna and mix with capers, green chilli, lemon oil and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Arrange in a bowl and garnish with picked tarragon, chervil, chive batons and parsley

Serve with some lavosh crackers

* To pickle the green chilli, we use equal quantities of sugar and white balsamic vinegar. Bring it to the boil, chill and then pour over sliced green chilli. Leave it for a minimum of 24 hours to pickle. Keep any leftovers in a clean jar in the fridge.