Armorica Grande Brasserie is the sprawling new restaurant inside the former Toko site on Surry Hills’ Crown Street.

Armorica’s owner, Andrew Becher, is the restaurateur behind Euro restaurants Parlar and Franca, and a self-confessed Francophile – the restaurant is named after the ancient region of north-west France that encompassed modern-day Brittany and Paris.

“I got a lot of inspiration from my time in Paris,” Becher tells Broadsheet. Visits to old-world establishments La Coupole and Septime steered Becher towards opening a traditional Parisian brasserie.

Never miss a Sydney moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

The result is understandably elegant: a capacious 150-seat dining room with red-leather banquettes, brass gantries, timber ceilings and solid-oak joinery. As in all of his restaurants, art plays a big role. Here, Becher has commissioned five artworks by American illustrator David Plunkert. Eagle-eyed New Yorker readers will recognise his style from his famed cover responding to far-right violence in Charlottesville in 2017.

Executive chef José Saulog’s sizeable menu starts with cold dishes: foie gras; octopus roulade (a mandatory order); and an opulent seafood tower piled high with oysters, a prawn cocktail, coral trout carpaccio and South Australian rock lobster. Saulog’s beef tartare is layered atop horseradish cream, spiked with nori and served alongside crackers made from puffed bone marrow. Four pastas are made in-house – the spaghetti with scampi, Moreton Bay bug meat and zucchini trifolati is a standout.

Larger dishes are all cooked over ironbark on a custom-made, five-metre-long Josper grill brought in from Spain. Becher, a champion of Australian seafood, has line-caught Murray cod, John Dory and coral trout on the opening menu. There are five different steak frites options, including Jack’s Creek grain-fed Black Angus sirloin, grain-finished Black Angus (marble score 3+) and David Blackmore full-blood Wagyu Scotch fillet (marble score 9+), all served with a choice of bone-marrow butter, béarnaise or mushroom sauce.

“Anything that comes off that Josper tastes incredible – the ironbark is touched with something really special,” Becher says.

Executive pastry chef Travin De Hoedt has created five desserts: crème caramel; clafoutis; a tarte du jour; and a chocolate bar made from Valrhona chocolate mousse, salted caramel and choc-chip cookie, and sealed with Armorica branding.

While the menu leans luxe – an Armorica-branded caviar is made and sold in-house – the prices are lower than at both Franca and Parlar. A lighter lunch menu, pitched at time-poor creatives who work in the area, will feature an ever-changing selection of salads, pasta, burgers and pies.

“It’s an accessible Parisian brasserie that is open to everyone,” Becher says. “You can come for a three-course dinner or for lunch and have a steak that’s the same price as what you get at the local pub, but in a much nicer environment with better service and better style.”

Armorica
490 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Hours:
Tue to Thu 5.30pm–late
Fri to Sun midday–late

armorica.com.au
@armoricasurryhills