For 99 years The Strand Hotel has sat on the corner of William and Crown streets in Darlinghurst, trading in hostel-style accommodation and no-frills pub grub. Now, it’s got new owners – Public Hospitality, which is also behind the recent overhaul of Redfern classic The Norfolk – and a fresh look. Like the Norfolk, it’s set to be part diner and part hotel – topped off with a rooftop bar.
The downstairs front bar, where visitors once sunk schooners of Carlton Draught, is now home to a bistro turning out French-inspired dishes. Dark wood-panelled walls and bentwood chairs are offset by the sunshine flooding from floor-to-ceiling bi-fold doors that can be flung open onto William Street.
Head chef Alex Kavanagh’s menu offers a fuss-free take on contemporary French dining. Kick off with bumps of Beluga caviar, steak tartare, or pissaladiere (like a French-style pizza) topped with caramelised onion, Ortiz anchovies and olives). Heftier options include a take on moules mariniere, as well as steak frites, roasted duck breast with grilled radicchio and a burger with gruyere. Coffee and pastries are available in the mornings from 6am.
French and Australian wines sit alongside a range of aperitifs and beers, while 49 Japanese, Irish and Scottish whiskies round out the drinks list. But stuffy bistro this is not – on weekends, DJs will pump tunes to keep the buzz up as guests dine.
The jewel in the venue’s crown, however, might end up being the foliage-filled rooftop bar. It’ll have a more casual menu of food and drinks, served at communal tables, with DJs hitting the decks as night falls.
In between the rooftop and the bistro, there’ll be a 17-room boutique hotel, with a library and common work and kitchen spaces.
Public Hospitality is also set to restore a series of other old-school Sydney pubs over the next year, including Alexandria’s Camelia Grove, The Kurrajong in Erskineville and Balmain’s Town Hall pub.
The Strand Bistro is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel and rooftop will open in the coming months.