The Whalebridge opens at controversial Sydney Cove Oyster Bar site at Circular Quay

French-inspired awnings are among the upgrades at the former Sydney Cove Oyster Bar site.
French-inspired awnings are among the upgrades at the former Sydney Cove Oyster Bar site. Photo: Jarryd Lyons

A controversial restaurant site has reopened with a new operator and a surprise in its kitchen.

Whalebridge, which takes up residence in the converted heritage amenity block near the Opera House on Circular Quay, is steered by Restaurant Hubert's former chef, Will Elliott.

The Sydney Cove Oyster Bar became a political hot potato when, in 2020, the NSW government declined to renew its lease after three decades.

Chef Will Elliott and restaurant operator Fraser Short at Circular Quay at their new venue.
Chef Will Elliott and restaurant operator Fraser Short at Circular Quay at their new venue. Photo: Jared Lyons

The site was eventually secured via tender by hospitality entrepreneur Fraser Short and chef Sean Connolly.

With Short and Connolly subsequently parting ways, Elliott is in Whalebridge's wheelhouse as executive chef.

Elliott and group culinary director David Clarke oversee Whalebridge's French-accented menu, which jumps from fruits de mer to a twice-baked souffle of comte and walnut through to lobster thermidor.

Caviar is served with blinis, brioche, creme fraiche and chives at Whalebridge.
Caviar is served with blinis, brioche, creme fraiche and chives at Whalebridge. Photo: Kitti Gould

"I love good produce treated simply. That's why I love French cooking," says Elliott, who has also worked at St. John in London and Melbourne's Cumulus Inc.

"It has very humble origins but it's been refined over so many years to bring out the best in something, without masking what made it good in the first place."

Open Mon-Thu noon-3pm, 5pm-9pm; Fri-Sun all-day menu noon-9.30pm.

8-10 Circular Quay East, 02 9000 7709, whalebridge.com.au