When Bert’s opens this Sunday, it will be a sophisticated brasserie and bar inspired by Europe’s grand hotel dining rooms of the 1930s. Set within The Newport – the group’s large-scale multi-faceted food and drinks venue on the shores of Pittwater – Bert’s will serve a coastal-European menu created by executive chef Jordan Toft (ex-Coogee Pavilion and LA’s Eveleigh).
“We wanted to create that sense of relaxed indulgence you experience on a coastal European holiday; to capture the feeling where you walk straight off the beach and order a bottle of rosé and choose what type of fish you’d like,” Toft told Broadsheet.
“Or sometimes you want something a bit more glamorous with quality service, but you want it relaxed and effortless – a place where you go back to your hotel, put on a shirt, but leave the top button undone,” says Toft.
As you walk through the main entrance off Kalinya Street, you feel as if you’re in an old-world hotel on the Mediterranean. Light fills the space and there’s a splash of jade greens, coral pinks, beige and creams. Salty air wafts through the dining room.
Head chef Sam Kane (Guillaume at Bennelong, Bistro Moncur, Bibo Wine Bar and Four in Hand) has joined the Merivale fold and will be working with Toft in the open kitchen, which has European Basque grills and charcoal ovens, using iron bark and fruit woods.
The space has an oyster bar, a larder table made from white marble, and multiple raw bars where seafood will be on display. For those after ultimate freshness, there’s a large tank from which lobsters and crabs can be plucked.
As well as mud crab served with lemon mayonnaise, from the larder you can order crudité and bagna cauda, or raw vegetables with a shallot and anchovy dip.
For mains, it’s all about the grill and charcoal oven. Asked what he’d suggest, even Toft is undecided: “The Australian fillets of fish lightly kissed on the grill; or the whole drum dory served with a salad vinaigrette and light hollandaise; or even the hapuku with preserved lemon dressing and fried grape vine leaves.”
If it is not seafood you’re after, there’s Brooklyn Valley grass-fed rib eye and Rangers Valley grain-fed T-bone served with roasted aromatics; or even pork rib for two with peach glaze and garlic flowers.
Merivale bars manager Sam Egerton has taken cues from European hotels and American country clubs to create a drinks menu of classics, but with a twist. Try the signature Bert’s MarTeeny, a miniature martini with Absolut Elyx, Madeira and lemon oil, served with olives, cornichons and cocktail onions. For those with a sweet tooth, try the French 75 – here made with roast almond vodka, white peach-skin syrup, fresh citrus and Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.
Merivale’s two master sommeliers, Franck Moreau and Adrian Filiuta, have created a 750-strong wine list. The focus is on Australian and European wines, with back vintages of riesling, shiraz and semillion, along with some emerging and quirky options.
Bert’s is part of the second phase of The Newport’s redevelopment, and according to Toft is a welcome addition. “We are thinking of a clientele that is based in the Northern Beaches, who are used to those dining institutions that have been around for 25 or so years and are ready for something new,” Toft says to Broadsheet.
Bert’s will open Sunday January 21 at 12pm.
The Newport, 2 Kalinya Street, Newport
(02) 9114 7350