For decades The Castlereagh Club, owned by the City Tattersalls Group, has been an overlooked space in the CBD. That’s despite the building’s rich history: it was once home to the Catholic Club, a men’s club established in 1909, which started with 25 members and eventually grew to 10,000. It was also one of the first members’ clubs to open to women, in the ’70s.
Inside, it features a generous restaurant space on the first floor, a main bar with a selection of craft beers on tap, a sports bar and a gym.
Now, in an effort to return the landmark venue to its former glory, celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge (ex-4Fourteen and Four In Hand) has come on board and taken over the former bistro space on level one. He’s no stranger to opening in unexpected spots. Banksia Bistro, which he launched in 2017, is also in a somewhat obscure location – on the noisy Princes Highway, in the small suburb of Banksia.
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“Everyone was like, ‘Why would you open [in Banksia]?’ It was a bit of a curveball but it went well for us. So now, people are like, ‘Why would you go into [The Castlereagh]?’ It’s another curveball,” Fassnidge tells Broadsheet.
The space has been warmed up with tones of forest green and natural wood, plus it features an eye-catching wine-cellar wall and deli section. Fassnidge also plans to add his own personal touches, like housing his daughter’s pet turtle in the lobster tank that came with the venue.
“When I first came into it, I thought it was a very weird space, so we tried to lighten it up a bit, we’ve moved stuff around and we made it greener. It’s a good place for simple, honest food – it’s like Banksia but in the city,” Fassnidge says.
To keep it casual, orders are placed at the bar. The menu, says Fassnidge, is driven by fresh produce from local farmers and producers, such as deli meats from Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods and Rangers Valley beef.
Fassnidge’s trademark MO of doing pub classics super well is alive and well here. The menu includes buttermilk chicken schnitzel served with chips, slaw and mushroom gravy; a Wagyu cheeseburger; and Rangers Valley rump steak with chips, salad and a choice of red wine jus, mushroom, or curry sauce.
It’s also hard to say no to his Sunday roast, which features porchetta stuffed with suckling pig mince, apple butter, lentils and silverbeet, served with roast potato. And his signature suckling pig sausage roll with apple butter has also made the cut.
“I think it’s the food that puts smiles on people’s faces. It’s not like you’re wondering how they’ve made it. It’s like the ad where it says what it is on the tin; you know exactly what you’re going to get. But we make everything here,” says Fassnidge.
The Castlereagh by Fassnidge
Level 1, 199 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
Mon to Fri 11.30am–2.30pm, 5.30pm–9pm