Basement, 15 Bligh Street Sydney, New South Wales 2000
|Opening hours||Mon-Sat noon-1am|
|Features||Licensed, Accepts bookings, Bar, Groups, Late night, Romance-first date|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
Hubert, the high flying, hot ticket neo-trad French restaurant Sydney fell head over heels for last year, is what you might call your ultimate triple threat.
There's a private room that you can hire out for screenings and events (has anyone ever screened Delicatessen in here? If they haven't, they should – with a live performance from a saw-playing clown for extra points). There's the Pincer Bar for pre-dinner drinks (or just drinks-drinks) and Hubert, the restaurant proper. But there's always been a problem. This place is too popular for its own good.
The Pincer Bar is seating only so once it's full you're out on the street waiting until a table becomes free. A general rule of thumb here is expect to eat at nanna (5pm-6pm) or rockstar o'clock (9.30pm-onwards). Unless, of course, you were smart enough to roll six or more deep, in which case they take reservations. But now, there's a fourth threat.
Owners Anton Forte, Stefan Forte and Jason Scott along with head chef Daniel Pepperell have opened yet another level to their venue – a seemingly never-ending treasure trove of new areas to be turned into strange little bars. The latest, which they've called Bridge Bon Appetit, is stationed above the restaurant on a thin mezzanine.
Run by bartender James Irvine, BBA offers drinks with their fancy hats on. Take the Leyenda – a frothy shake-up of mezcal and chartreuse (what could possibly go wrong?) with a lick of pistachio. It's elegant, dry and as pared back as two of the world's most trouble-making spirits can be together.
There's a smoked blueberry number on there too, which also involves fig and caramel which I'll be back to try. Maybe I'll kidnap Maggie Beer for a round – it sounds right up her alley.
Sommelier Andy Tyson's natural-leaning wine list, written specifically for that one long stretch of room, is probably my favourite thing this week, though. Mainly for his description of the Tinto 'TN' Spanish bordeaux blend, which takes home the prize for most onomatopoeic wine description of the year: "Vivid, limpid, punk rock? Urgh."
Like everything else here, the snacks are unapologetic. "Roe boats" hold equal parts avruga and ocean trout roe, finished with a lobe of sea urchin. It's a full frontal oceanic attack – a slap in the face from an angry sea all set in an elegant crisp.
Saucisson sec and pickles is a nice little thinking treat, though that French-style pork sausage could spend a little more time air-drying for flavour and chew.
The real clincher, though, is the pot au feu – if that doesn't stop you in your tracks, nothing will. A thick slice of poached veal tongue with green onions and dutch carrots, perfectly turned baby turnips and a section of bone marrow bathing in a spoon coating jus is a perfect ode to dining solo by candlelight. A glass of that Spanish bordeaux blend is the only company you need.
Try this The salt cod beignets – a sort of French salt cod doughnut – are the perfect set-up, pre-dinner.
Bottom line Beignets ($14); saucisson sec (($16); pot au feu ($35).
Pro Tip: This is the perfect holding area for the restaurant downstairs – put your name down at the front desk then head up here and order a cocktail away from the masses.