In another worrying trend for serious dining in Sydney, Blancharu has closed. A note on the door of the Elizabeth Bay restaurant confirms the landlord has taken possession of the premises.
Blancharu was most recently under the culinary guidance of ex-Robuchon chef Masahiko Yomoda, whose standout dishes include French-Japanese creations rich in parmesan foam, and a tuna dish with truffle and basil sauce.
Unhappy customers with bookings have taken to blogs to complain of turning up to dine at the closed restaurant, while others fret over unused gift vouchers.
The signs weren't good when its founder, former Restaurant VII head chef Haru Inukai, sold the restaurant last May to open a ramen bar in a Chinatown food court.
''Fine dining is very difficult [in Australia]; the labour costs are really high, as are rents,'' Inukai said.
The chef hoped Blancharu would prosper after selling to experienced operators - a family with several restaurants in Indonesia.
Key staff also stayed and Yomoda signed as chef.
Inukai's small ramen outlet is a long way from the luxury of his time at Bilson's and Restaurant VII, but he says when he started serving lunchtime ramen, customers queued up Elizabeth Bay Road.