There is no stopping the Merivale Group as they open the sophisticated and clean-cut brasserie and bar, Bert’s Brasserie, at The Newport — the group’s large-scale multi-faceted food and drinks venue, located on the shores of Pittwater.
Whilst The Newport is known and loved as a family-friendly, vibrant gathering place for all ages, Bert’s is set to attract a slightly different kind of diner to the complex. Inspired by Europe’s grand hotel dining rooms of the 1930’s, the new restaurant oozes ritz.
As you walk in through the main entrance off Kalinya Street, you are engulfed by the sense of an old-world hotel set on the coastline of the Mediterranean. Light fills the space thanks to the jade greens, coral pinks and light beige’s and creams.
With the salty air of Sydney’s Northern Beaches wafting through the decadent dining hall, Executive Chef Jordan Toft (ex-Coogee Pavilion and LA’s Eveleigh) and his team serve up an apt menu of bygone coastal European dishes. Speaking to Broadsheet, Toft explains the inspiration for Bert’s was as simple as ‘effortless’.
“We wanted to create that sense of relaxed indulgence you experience on a coastal European holiday; to capture the feeling where you walk straight off the beach and order a bottle of rose and choose what type of fish you’d like”
“Or sometimes you want something a bit more glamorous with quality service, but you want it relaxed and effortless. A place where you go back to your hotel, put on a shirt, but leave the top button undone,” says Toft.
Head chef Sam Kane (Gulliaume at Bennelong, Bistro Moncur, Bibo Wine Bar and Four in Hand) joins the Merivale fold and will be working with Toft in the modular open kitchen that frames the space — filled with European Basque grills and charcoal ovens, an oyster bar, a larder table made from white marble and multiple raw bars where fresh seafood catches of the day lay on display. You can’t miss the large tank behind it all holding lobsters and crabs for those who are after the ultimate freshness.
For Toft, they wanted to create a menu that complimented the space and their concept where a coastal European dining environment meets simplicity.
To start, you can’t go past the hand-picked mud crab served with coral and lemon mayonnaise. It’s then onto the larder where the ‘crudité & bagna cauda’ — raw vegetables, shallot and anchovy dip lighten the pallet. For mains, the grill and oven taken the lead, with fresh Australian produce cooked using charcoal, iron bark and fruit woods; a cuisine so bountiful even Toft cannot decide; “The Australian fillets of fish lightly kissed on the grill, or the whole drum dory served with a salad vignette and light hollandaise, or even the hapuku served with preserved lemon dressing and fried grape vine leaves”.
If it is not seafood you are after, the team at Bert’s are also offering Brooklyn Valley grass-fed rib eye and Rangers Valley grain-fed T-bone served with roasted aromatics, or even double pork rib for two with peach glaze and garlic flowers.
Whilst scanning the menu and choosing what meal entices you the most, you can order one of the cocktails from the Bert’s bar, where Merivale Group Bars Manager Sam Egerton has taken cues from European hotels and American country clubs to re-create your favourite classics, but with a twist. Try the signature Bert’s MarTeeny, a miniature martini with Absolut Elyx, Madeira and lemon oil, served with olives, cornichons and cocktail onions. For the sweet tooths, why not try the French 75 — which mixes roast almond vodka with white peach skin syrup, fresh citrus and Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, to create an infusion that elevates classic elements found in champagne.
Merivale’s two Master Sommeliers — Frank Moreau and Adrian Filliuta have not disappointed either, providing a 750-strong wine list. With a focus on Australian and European wines, they have included black vintages of Riesling, Shiraz and Semillion but have also included some names from the market you already know and love.
Bert’s is the second phase of The Newport’s landmark redevelopment, and according to Toft is a welcome addition; “We are thinking of a clientele that is based in the Northern Beaches, those from institutions that have been around for 25 or so years and are ready for something new,” Toft tells Broadsheet.
This adult dining experience offers a relaxing afternoon and evening for patrons, where seafood is aplenty and the drinks list long. Enjoy a conversation over a glass of rose as you enjoy the view of Pittwater below, providing a cool breeze on those balmy evenings.
Bert’s will open Sunday, 21 January at 12pm.