When Monopole opens its doors in the city tonight, the shiny new venue will represent owners Nick Hildebrandt and Brent Savage's greatest gamble to date.
While other restaurant groups are pruning venues in the wake of the pandemic, the owners of upmarket eateries Bentley and Cirrus have doubled down, relocating Monopole from Potts Point where they are set to open a new pizzeria in its place.
When much of the smart money is headed out of a CBD stripped of its workers, Monopole is opening on an artery of its financial heart, opposite Australia Square.
When Hildebrandt wasn't hovering over a spreadsheet during the restrictions, he was scouring wine auctions on his computer. The fruits of that search are some big-bodied Aussie reds from the 1980s, sure to be popular with Monopole's new corporate clientele.
"Those wines mightn't be fashionable, but they are good to have alongside the hipster stuff. And we've gone a little more French, with the wine and the food," he says.
"We want to have a bit of fun, so there'll be a happy hour, with Louis Roederer ['Premier' Riemes champagne] for $88, which you'd normally find around in restaurants for $150-$160."
Hildebrandt describes the room – with its "brass and glass" mobiles – as designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb's "lightest and brightest" interior to date. "When the windows are open it almost feels like you are outdoors," he adds.
Savage has retooled the menu, introducing snacks such as parmesan and caramelised onion gougeres, steamed snapper with leek, capers, butter and chervil, and steak frites. Or you can grab a Moreton Bay bug sandwich for lunch.
With bookings on the rise at Bentley and visibly more people on the streets of the CBD in recent weeks, Hildebrandt is confident Monopole's move is well timed.
"Despite everything that has happened this year, moving Monopole was like the light-bulb moment we had when Bentley was in Surry Hills. There was nothing more we could do there, it was time to take the next step."
Open lunch Wed-Fri lunch; Tue-Sat dinner.
20 Curtin Place, Sydney, monopolesydney.com.au