If anything represents how much Sydney’s food culture has changed over the last 10 years, it’s the city’s food courts. The days of repetitive stalls with chicken-avocado sandwiches, California rolls and butter chicken are fading. Now it’s all about curation. The latest food court to push the genre into new territory is Chifley’s Level One.
“We recognised the need to enhance our retail experience and 'Level One' provides a sophisticated dining environment for our customers,” says Victor Gaspar, group general manager at Ipoh, Chifley’s parent company. Gaspar says their aim was to invite a mix of well-known operators and new concepts. The most intriguing of the latter is Jason Roberts (ex-Manly Pavilion) and Jack Fonteyn’s (owner of Jack’s Newtown) Poku, a produce- and sustainability-led Hawaiian poke restaurant. Joining them will be Sal, an American-Italian cafe-deli by Romolo owner George Nahas; and Chicken Confidential, an organic fried chicken takeout.
Other well-known operators will be opening tweaked versions of their original venues. Maria Barona and Francisco Rodriguez will be opening a takeaway version of their Spanish restaurant-deli Encasa; and Simon Goh will be opening the Latest Chinta Ria extension, Ella Blues. Like Goh’s other venues, Ella Blues will have a theme, this time the blues and jazz movement of 1960s Malaysia. Rounding off Level One will be food court regulars Roll’d, Soul Origin, Top Juice and The Gardens.
The food court is dark-toned and marble-heavy with an Art Deco-style design from SJB and architect Rice Daubney. “Chifley is renowned for the quality of its architecture and occupant profile. We wanted our retail experience to reflect that, so we have used materials of uncompromised quality with luxurious finishes and fittings that we feel sets a new benchmark in Sydney's CBD,” says Gaspar.