This homage to post-war France is an immersive experience, tasselled lamps, wood panelling and all. You can go deep with oyster, caviar and boeuf en croute, or opt for steak frites in Bar Pincer and sift through the awe-inspiring 600-point wine list.
The nuts & bolts
- Opened 2016
- Function spaces: Various rooms from 10–65 guests
Jason Scott and brothers Anton and Stefan Forte, from the Swillhouse Group, had plenty of success under their belts (The Baxter Inn, Frankie’s Pizza, Shady Pines) when they conceived of Restaurant Hubert, but as deeply considered and painstakingly realised as their other venues were, nothing can truly prepare one for the breath-takingly ambitious Restaurant Hubert. But the Swillhouse Group do know how to create theatre, how to transport their customers to another place, another time, and to do so with mesmerising verisimilitude.
The gestures at Restaurant Hubert are big, grand really, with no attempt to hone and refine the old to look new, but they are done with such aplomb that they never sink into pastiche. Once past the heavy wooden doors, which incongruously sit at the base of an ’80s office tower in Bligh Street, and down the stairs, you are in Sydney no more. The theme is grand post-war Europe, and France more specifically, with wood-panelled rooms (seven in total, with two bars and even a 100-seat theatre) lit with tasselled wall lamps and the flicker of proper candles in proper candle holders – not a tea-light candle in sight. The walls are massed with vintage posters and photographs, and an army of bottles, both spent and un-broached, glint throughout.
Unsurprisingly, the wine list speaks with a thick French accent and tends to the vast, with an enviable selection of hard-to-find bottles from makers such as Jean-François Ganevat, Anselme Selosse and Thierry Allemand, for example. The leather-bound tome stretches to 600-odd listings, with 35 by the glass that are rotated monthly.
Taking the baton from chef Dan Pepperell, Alexis Besseau leans deeply into classic French bistro fare, though some of Pepperell’s inventive touches remain – escargot with XO, for example. Expect to see such menu items as soufflé au Gruyère, chilled crustaceans of the day, pork terrine, pâté en croûte, chateaubriand with bearnaise sauce and Hubert’s chicken fricassee across the extensive menu. For those less committed to long-form dining, Bar Pincer welcomes walk ins for snacks and a drinks (from that tome of a wine list, or for aperitifs, cocktails and the like), or a simple meal of steak frites or the now legendary Normandy burger.