First look: Cirrus, Barangaroo, Sydney

Restaurateurs Nick Hildebrant (left) and Brent Savage outside Cirrus.
Restaurateurs Nick Hildebrant (left) and Brent Savage outside Cirrus. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Rene Redzepi, your Noma Australia site is in good hands. Restaurateurs Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt – whose three Sydney restaurants including Bentley Restaurant and Bar claimed a collective five hats on Monday night – have announced that their restaurant Cirrus will open in the Barangaroo city space on September 19. 

Savage says that Cirrus will be primarily focused on sustainable seafood, woven with native Australian accents and a "whole spectrum" of international flavours, with snacks and share plates. 

"We're going to have some luxe ingredients such as caviar, lobster and whole mud crabs, all cooked in a unique Australian way," he says. 

"We're making our own native pastes, including a sour one with muntries, native ginger and pepper berry, for whole roasted snapper finished with fried saltbush and native basil." 

North Queensland mud crabs will be steamed and tossed with green garlic and tarragon sauce, kingfish dressed with pickled turnip and black bean, and high rollers will be able to dip pearl spoons into Yasa (Abu Dhabi) Sterling (United States) and Oscietra  (Russia) caviars. 

Vegetables will have equal billing: whole roasted cauliflowers with sesame paste and savoury granola, and salad burnet with white asparagus. 

Just here for the snacks? Expect a constantly changing menu along the lines of cos lettuce hearts with whipped mullet rose, pickled onion and anchovies, or fat leatherjacket cheeks, served like scallops, with a cucumber and buttermilk infusion. 

"It will really depend on what we can get at the market," Savage says. "We'll use smaller varieties such as little yellowtails, slimy mackerel and oily fish, such as bonito." 

Sommelier Hildebrant will focus more on whites for the wine program, having completed his role as chief speedboat procurer for designer and architect Pascale Gomes-McNabb. 

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"Pascale always done one element which is a bit out there, and Nick found this vintage 1950s speedboat called Alvin, so it's going to be hanging from the roof," Savage said. 

Alvin is sadly not available as a seating option, but his timber frame fits nicely with the design brief. 

"It's all timber in the restaurant – timber lines the banquette around and also on the roof. It was quite a cold space, so Pascale has really tried to warm it up, to make it comfortable and cosy, so people can settle in. We want the atmosphere to be casual and accessible." 

For most chefs, creating a restaurant in the footprint of Noma would be challenge enough. The duo decided to double-down, opening Cirrus to Sydney's culinary elite last night to play host to the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awards, and expanding the unopened restaurant from 110 seats to a whooping 354. Not bad for a first service, gentlemen. 

"It's a career highlight; the opportunity to cook for the entire industry at once is really nerve racking but also very exciting. It's an honour," Savage says.