Underneath one of the CBD’s stone buildings is a curious, J-shaped passageway. Two pop-ups have found a home here. One is Edition Coffee Roasters. The other, Gray’s by Circa, is a restaurant that aims to convey the feeling of everyday hedonism.

The brains behind Gray’s by Circa, Jack New, is a talented young chef with an impressive resume including Sokyo, Ananas, Edition and Maslow’s. Despite the proximity to Edition’s pop-up, New states that the two ventures are totally separate, except for their shared seating arrangement. “Edition said there was a kitchen here, and I should come and do something with it,” New says. He has teamed with Aykut Sayan from Parramatta’s Circa Espresso, a partnership that has proven fruitful at Edition and Maslow’s.

Named after Dorian Gray, the literary poster-boy of hedonism, the pop-up’s menu mimics an old-style country club. It’s a clean, homely outfitting – framed pages from a classic French poster book decorate the walls and a sense of seclusion provides a buffer from the street. “We want to do food that’s accessible to the city workers around here who have one or two hours off,” says New. “We’re giving them the option to indulge over their lunch break.”

The menu is influenced by English, French and Italian food, but to pinpoint a cuisine is fairly irrelevant. New describes his dishes as simply “comforting and indulgent”. Everything is organic and made in-house. Stand-outs are the free-range chicken ballotine with goat’s curd, peas, jus and prunes; and the slow-cooked beef-cheek lasagne. Breakfast favourites include duck-egg Croque Madame; and the ricotta and rose-water hotcake with figs, pistachio and salted dulce-de-leche mousse. Wines are all natural and organic, selected by Dominic Coulter of Franc-About-Wines.

Gray’s by Circa is around for another 10 weeks. The pop-up expects to be open for dinner on Thursday and Friday in coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Gray’s by Circa
72a Castlereagh Street, Sydney

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