The Sydney dining scene isn’t big on hotels.

“There’s a stigma about hotel dining in Sydney,” chef Martin Benn (of the now-closed Sepia) tells Broadsheet. The award-winning chef has been mentoring Jamie Robertson, who is heading up the kitchen in the newly opened Sydney Common in the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park. “If you think about the Savoy in London or the Dorchester in New York, they’re five-star hotels and they have always attracted great European chefs, so they’re always at the forefront of cuisine. Sydney and Melbourne restaurants already have so much to offer, people don’t go to hotels to eat.”

Sydney Common aims to change that by championing five-star hotel dining in Australia. The new venue is stately, with grand, curved twin stairways leading to the restaurant and views over Hyde Park through enormous windows. Most of the food is cooked over charcoal and ironbark in the woodfire oven and grill.

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The à la carte menu moves from entrees like a tart of ox heart tomato, cheddar and fennel seed, to the seafood bar, where tuna crudo sits on cubes of tomato jelly and buffalo yoghurt. Then to the woodfire grill, which imparts the smoky flavours of the fast-burning ironbark from the Blue Mountains. There’s Charred eggplant with miso harissa; grilled Murray cod fillets with smoked tomatoes; smoked beef tongue; and a substantial 800-gram Hereford dry-aged ribeye, served with smoked fat vinaigrette and moreish anchovy butter.

“Jamie has a deft touch with pasta, and we have a few dishes that showcase his pasta skills, but the mortadella agnolotti is the star. It was a great journey that took us six weeks to get right,” says Benn.

The first version of the handmade pasta was filled with chicken mousse, before they settled on a filling of LP’s mortadella folded through with ricotta. The elegant, smoky dumplings are served in a sage and brown butter sauce with peas and parmesan.

Benn’s mentoring focused on reducing waste. For example, the restaurant receives loaves of fresh sourdough from Baker Bleu every morning. The leftovers become breadcrumbs, croutons in the panzanella salad and a key ingredient in the sourdough ice-cream. “We soak the sourdough in milk and use the milk to make ice-cream so you get the sour and toasty flavour,” says Benn.

Former Bentley sommelier Sebastian Brogren oversees a drinks menu that offers 260 wines celebrating classic Australian producers, with the old and new world well represented.

Between the food, drinks and luxurious, tasteful fit-out, Sydney Common fits in well with some of Sydney’s favourite venues. And there’s something about ascending that elegant staircase that makes a visit feel like an occasion, which is exactly the point.

“For me this is about changing the perception of hotel dining,” Benn says. “Hotels are great places to go – you can get a taxi at the door, there’s something nostalgic about it. If it can bring people back to hotels, that’s a good thing – it gives us more options as a country and city, and it just makes us more international. Bring it back, I say.”

Sydney Common opens on Tuesday February 6, 2024.

Sydney Common
161 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Inside the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park
(02) 9286 6787

Hours:
Bar: daily 3pm–late
Dinner: daily 5.30pm–late
Lunch: Fri & Sat midday–3pm

sydneycommon.com.au
@sydneycommon_