Rozelle’s Darling Street is set to receive a relaxed yet refined new French bistro this November. Chez Blue, the latest project from Solotel, will reside in what was formerly the gaming room at The Sackville, an evolution Solotel CEO Elliot Solomon tells Broadsheet the neighbourhood is ready for.
“We’ve been running The Sackville since ’99,” he says. “We’ve been in the Rozelle community for a really long time, and as [the] neighbourhood we’re in evolves, so too does the venue.”
The Sacky has been a pit stop for locals since 1876. The public bar offers the ideal spot to get patriotic during sports matches, or celebrate (or commiserate) after the footy at nearby Leichhardt Oval. “The pub’s a really important part of the community, really tied to [NRL team] Wests Tigers,” Solomon says. “The restaurant’s just another component. French bistro made sense – a bistro is like the pub in France, like the community living room. [We want] Chez Blue to feel local, like a home away from home.”
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Taking the lead in the kitchen is Mark Williamson, who’s been head chef of Woollahra institution Bistro Moncur for the past six years. “We’ve been so lucky to have Mark on board,” Solomon says. “His pedigree with Bistro Moncur, that’s the ambition — to be a venue that can last for decades and still be so connected to its local community.”
The food and feel of the place is going to be miles away from the decadence seen across recent Sydney brasseries like Armorica. “[It’ll be a] relaxed, charming, approachable, neighbourhood bistro,” Williamson says. “Heavy on the classics, a few of them with a twist of our own.” The first menu tastings are kicking off this week.
As for the name, Chez Blue is a tribute to Solomon’s son, Archie Blue. Being Solotel’s first unpartnered restaurant venture – the group runs seven restaurants with Matt Moran – the opening is a momentous occasion: “First baby, first restaurant-baby.”
“I was in Paris with my wife and son at the end of last year and Archie was six months old. Travelling with a little one is difficult, and we’d just eat when we could. We were always in bistros, spaces that are really familiar, really casual, great with kids … but we also had a date night [in one]. For me, it solidified the concept. I’m hoping you step through the door and feel like you could be in Paris.”
Chez Blue opens at 599 Darling Street, Rozelle on November 16 2023. The Sackville’s pub kitchen will be closed until late August, with food available for delivery from neighbouring restaurants Fourth Fish and 21 Thai until then.