The Grounds of the City owner, Ramzey Choker, is probably underselling his latest venture when he describes its design cue as the humble 1920s Australian coffee house, given the $1 million in intricate joinery, antique French theatre lights, lashings of marble and a resident shoeshiner.
Paul McGrath, the executive chef charged with overseeing the menu at the venue, which opened in the CBD on Monday, agrees the Acme & Co interior pushes beyond the modest coffee house.
"Everything (The Grounds) do is inspiring," he says. "It starts at the 1920s coffee house, but it's more opulent and decadent. The detail is amazing. The doors on the fridges in the kitchen have been custom made, the finishes in the area where the kitchen hands work are as good as out front."
McGrath, who earned his Sydney stripes as owner-chef at the award-winning Ortolan restaurant, has structured a luxe menu. Customers might start the day with a breakfast of steak and eggs before dipping into a lunch menu that includes lobster with roasted seaweed butter, a seafood platter (complete with sea urchin) and classics such as steak frites.
"We'll start Friday and Saturday night dinners in a couple of weeks," McGrath says.
With its imported plates, detailed private dining room and yesteryear charm, the Marble Bar next door might have found its long-lost sibling. "It's important to do something timeless," Choker says.
Open daily, 7am-6pm (with late night trading on Thursday).
500 George Street, Sydney, thegroundscity.com.au