We’ve been following the opening of Shell House from the very beginning – from the European bistro Menzies on the ground floor to the plush rooftop Sky Bar with panoramic views of the city. But Brett Robinson, CEO of the Point Group, which owns Shell House, tells Broadsheet the dining room and terrace on the ninth floor is the heart and soul of the building.

“It’s a wonderful space on the rooftop that gets amazing afternoon sun. There are floor-to-ceiling glass doors that create a seamless indoor–outdoor dining environment,” he says. “Menzies Bar is a European-inspired bar and bistro, Sky Bar is all about the golden hour, and Clocktower is the classic cocktail bar. The dining room is where you really spend your time.”

Here, you’re encouraged to take your time. Culinary director Joel Bickford and head chef Aaron Ward’s extensive menu is organised into eight sections: caviar, entree, pasta, vegetables, fish and shellfish, meat, cold, and sides.

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There’s beluga caviar with cultured cream, and ricotta and anchovy ciambella. And the raw bar offers Fremantle octopus, and WA spanner crab served with kohlrabi.

Yellowbelly flounder with nettles, caper and lemon is an outstanding seafood main, and the 500-gram Rangers Valley dry-aged sirloin or 900-gram Copper Tree Farm dairy cow delmonico are ideal for sharing. But Robinson says vegetables deserve a spotlight of their own.

“We wanted to stand out from traditional protein-led restaurants and make sure vegetables are at the forefront.” Dishes include asparagus with orange wine, macadamia and fennel pollen, and coal-roasted beetroot with black fungus and blueberries.

The cocktail list takes the best from each of the bars (try the classic Sicilian Margarita with tequila, limoncello, Sichuan and fresh lemon), and the wine list is wide-ranging. “We like celebrating classics – we’ve got some French burgundy, chablis – but we also love small makers, natural wines. We’re classic in theory, but progressive in our approach.”

Shell House’s bars opened gradually at the end of 2021, which Robinson says has been a long time coming.

“It’s been a three-year journey. When Covid hit we were halfway through. We definitely had to have the determination to believe we would be able to host guests again.”

It’s worth the wait. The spectacular dining-room space flows out onto the terrace with views of the CBD. It’s a celebration of Shell House’s art deco heritage, with curved booth seats and a rich timber bar that echo the shape of the cane armchairs.

Silhouetted cut-out-style murals and sculptures by artist Mikey Freedom unite the spaces from the lobby all the way to the 10th floor.

Robinson has a grand vision for Shell House. “If I had my way, in 20 years I’d want this to be one of Sydney’s iconic restaurants. We want the dining experience to be an essential part of people’s lives.

Shell House
37 Margaret Street, Sydney
(02) 8262 8888
Entry to the rooftop via Wynyard Lane

Hours:
Shell House Dining Room & Terrace
Wed 5.30pm–late
Thu to Sat 12pm–late

Clocktower Bar
Wed to Sat 4pm–late

Sky Bar
Wed 4pm–late
Thu to Sat 2pm–late

shellhouse.com.au
@shellhousesydney