Bert's Bar & Brasserie review

Go-to dish: House-made tagliolini with lobster.
Go-to dish: House-made tagliolini with lobster. Photo: Brook Mitchell

2 Kalinya St Newport, NSW 2106

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Opening hours Lunch Tue-Sun noon-3pm; dinner Tue-Sun from 5.30pm
Features Licensed, Bar, Romance-first date, Pub dining, Accepts bookings, Views
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Phone 02 9114 7350

The thing about Bert's is that you will eat too much, drink too much and spend too much money. You will order big-buck lobster and rib-eye, cover the table with desserts, and roll out way past your bed-time.

The latest offering from the indefatigable Merivale group is excess all areas, with its list of champagnes by house and by grower, tanks of live sea urchins, $220 grilled eastern rock lobsters and $295 Siberian caviars.

Vulgar to mention money, I know, but you're going to need it. You're going to want what they're having.

Hand-filleted anchovies.
Hand-filleted anchovies. Photo: Brook Mitchell

The room is magnificent in its scope, with a lovely sweep of window offering glimpses of Pittwater and the continuous picnic going on in the pub grounds of The Newport below.

Merivale's Justin and Bettina Hemmes, architect Kelvin Ho and stylist Amanda Talbot have created sumptuous pastel-washed bars and dining rooms that run to dusky pinks, rich creams and forest greens.

Seating is plush, comfy and cushy, from velvet booths to snug sofas and pretty dining chairs with floral prints. Portraits are of people at play.

A roasted 600-gram mud crab.
A roasted 600-gram mud crab. Photo: Brook Mitchell

Marble is by the metre, and pink-hued stone floors and marvellous lights evoke an age when lemons came clothed in muslin, butter under a cloche and champagne by the bucket.

Start with a sea urchin toasty ($18) and you'll get the idea. Three fingers of warm golden brioche topped with buttery roasted chicken fat and tongues of sea urchin – sweet and lush, with that indelible seaside tang.

If that's too rich for your blood, do the fleshy, hand-filleted Cantabrian anchovies ($19), their own crisped bones served as a crunchy garnish to pillows of deep-fried sourdough bread.

Mango and coconut pavlova.
Mango and coconut pavlova. Photo: Brook Mitchell

Or keep it simple with a roasted 600-gram mud crab ($125), the freshly picked meat piled back into the shell and presented on ice with bowls of creamy head juices and mayo, and lemon.

Yep, we're definitely going to need another bottle. Luckily there are hot and cold running sommeliers ready to pour everything from a fresh, clean 2015 Le Grappin Macon-Villages on tap for $14 a glass, to a 2005 Dom Perignon for $660.

The open kitchen is all business, fronted by executive chef Jordan Toft and head chef, Sam Kane and backed by a wood-fired oven and ratcheted open grills for meat and for fish. Those grills are busy with one-kilogram T-bones at $165 and whole John Dory for $99, but you can dip your toe in the water with semolina spaghetti tossed with plump pipis and cuttlefish in lovely oily juices ($31). 

Jordan Toft and Sam Kane at the Newport.
Jordan Toft and Sam Kane at the Newport. Photo: Brook Mitchell

Or go for broke with a high-drama oval platter of house-made tagliolini (more like linguine) with lobster in a gentle tomatoey, herby, winey sauce, topped with the ruby-red shell ($105). Most tables order it to share, for obvious reasons.

A fresh mango and toasted coconut pav, hit with the pop-and-ping of finger lime ($18), has more wow factor than a seemingly disparate coffee jelly, peanut brittle and mint granita ($18).

Bert's attention to detail has an old-fashioned charm – there are little glass pichets for wine, jugs for sauces, and trays for canapes.

The plush interior.
The plush interior. Photo: Brook Mitchell

Service loses the plot on a busy weekend, and regains it midweek. You'll have a better time if you're not in a rush, so sink back and order another glass of champagne. Nah, make that a bottle.

The low-down

Vegetarian A handful of vegetable dishes and salads, from charred sugarloaf cabbage with toasted pepita pesto to a luxed-up avocado with chopped egg and tarragon.

Drinks Gatsby-esque cocktails (love the miniature Marteeny); beachside ales, and walk-in cellar housing 700 labels.

Go-to dish Tagliolini with lobster, $105

Pro tip Allow time for parking – it's a nightmare on weekends, for you, and the locals.

Terry Durack is chief restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.

https://merivale.com.au/venues/berts