It’s a locale known for corporate types and office buildings, but diners can expect something more relaxed here. The mezzanine-level space is divided into a 120-seat restaurant and adjoining 40-seat bar, opening onto five individual balconies outside. The interior designed by Cox Architecture features a vast mural by Noosa-based artist Kristian Hawker greeting guests as they climb to a dining room and bar with shades of sea-foam green and blue. “It’s a really sunny space [with] high ceilings and feels a bit more casual [than our other venues],” the group’s culinary director Sebastien Lutaud tells Broadsheet.
Heading up the kitchen is Connor Hartley-Simpson, who brings experience at Stockholm’s now-closed two-Michelin-starred Gastrologik and San Francisco’s three-Michelin-starred Quince, and most recently with the group in Sydney. “We interviewed Connor nearly a year ago,” says Lutaud. “He opened The Charles with [executive chef] Billy Hannigan, and from day one I went ‘This guy’s good’. Six months in I said ‘Hey, let’s have a conversation about Poetica’.”
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Hartley-Simpson will be cooking over a custom hearth and a Josper charcoal oven, with plenty of plant-forward options joining the meat. “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a steakhouse,” Lutaud says. “We can leave meat or fish hanging [on the hearth] overnight, so you get that smokiness, or we can grill things really fast. We want to focus on [doing everything] well – it could be a cabbage.”
When asked for his prediction on the future signature dish, he suggests a starter. “We’re doing flambadou oysters. It’s quite an old-school technique that uses a cast-iron steel pole with a cone piece [on the end].” The cone is filled with fat – Poetica will use beef fat – which melts and then drips out of a hole at the cone’s point, here onto Sydney Rock oysters. “We’ve got ‘nduja and guindillas on top, too. A shot of oyster with that warm beef fat and spicy ‘nduja, that’s going to be a highlight.”
The shared menu includes a slow-cooked pork jowl with smoked garlic paste, catch from Smoketrap Eels with charred leeks and nori, and a roast chook that’s been seasoned with mussels. Sirloins, T-bones and tomahawks will be dry aged and then sliced in house, a swordfish will spend a week developing before a slow roast in the fire and then a flash in the pan before plating.
Bar snacks will mirror the main menu’s smaller bites, with a 12-strong cocktail list, 450 “mostly Australian” wines and beers on tap and in tins. “We think there’ll be a clientele that just go to the bar,” says Lutaud. “When we opened Loulou, people were going ‘Oh great, I can invite friends this side of the bridge’. I think locals are just looking forward to having more places on their end.”
With the Metro line set to open next year, there’s even less reason for people to avoid the journey. “I was told that from Barangaroo to North Sydney is four minutes, so fingers crossed it is.”