On Market Street in the CBD, bright bulbs and suited-up bellboys announce you’ve arrived at the State Theatre – or the upstairs QT Sydney and its new French bistro, Parlour. The heritage-listed building, intricate detailing and spectacular 1920s architecture checks you into another world instantly, helped along by spiffy servers and deft silver service throughout the meal.
The ground-floor venue is open from 6.30am, when elevated staples (like granola topped with macerated berries, or a three-cheese croque monsieur) keep you fuelled until the lunch and dinner menu arrives. It’s here that the French flair really begins. Sean Connolly, QT’s creative director of food and beverage, delivers a classic menu (with some trademark QT flair) in a room that’s as historic as it is glamorous, telling Broadsheet, “I want people to feel like they’ve stepped over the threshold into a night in Paris”.
When Broadsheet visited the cosy, candlelit hotel-restaurant, the night felt unmistakably Parisian. Order the following for the same.
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While the shelled morsels typically come swimming in a salty, herby, garlicky pool of butter, at Parlour they ride piggyback – literally. Three snails in striped shells arrive on a slice of smoked ham, sauced up by a vibrant pea puree and garlic Pernod butter. The two-step starter – step one, fork your snail free; step two, add pea and ham – is one of Connolly’s top picks and could only be enjoyed more if the bread and butter arrives at the same time.
Leek tarte tatin
“It’s rich in flavour and reminds me of a dish my grandfather used to make,” head chef Kenny Radegonde says of Parlour’s savoury rendition of the topsy-turvy tart. Here, tarte tatin’s layers of crunchy puff pastry – flipped after baking – hold a jigsaw puzzle of sticky caramelised leek. The roasted sweetness of the allium is taken higher with a spoonful of goat’s curd, chives and smattering of salt.
Butter, lemon and casarecce is the winning trio in this sunny main. Served in a glossy yellow bowl, the carby twists carry slurps of a silky citrusy sauce – it’s pared back but perfected. Ordered along with the steak – served with a fried egg, pepper sauce and pomme frites – and a dish of dressed greens, pasta citron is a welcome by-the-sea interlude to the rest of the menu, which has a cosy, inner-city feel.
Flambe crepe suzette
Now for the tableside theatrics: a dish engulfed in a spectacular burst of flames, right beside your seat. Your server will set up their station – a table carrying a small stove and selection of ingredients – in the narrow aisle between neighbouring diners. First, they add butter to the hot pan, then golden sugar, juicy rounds of sliced orange and three folded crepes. Once these sizzle, they add Grand Marnier and tip the pan so the flames go up. The saucy, caramelised dessert is plated, topped with ice-cream and delivered to your table. “It’s like a bit of Cirque du Soleil,” says Connolly. “It’s glamour and old-school gueridon service.”
A late-night toastie is only elevated by more cheese, so consider this one that arrives golden and cheesy before a just-grilled serve of raclette is sheared on top. It’s fromage heaven, and only available from Parlour’s supper menu (from 9pm till late). The accompanying comte crisps are a fantastic side.
While those are our top five dishes, the following deserve a mention: a cheesy whiff of twice-baked souffle, a syrupy rum baba, the cabbage-wrapped duck confit and a charcuterie plate that counts a house-made pig’s head terrine in its line-up.
49 Market Street, Sydney
(02) 8262 0000
Mon to Wed 6.30am–10pm
Fri & Sat 6.30am–2am