Chez Blue, a chic new French bistro on Rozelle’s Darling Street, is preparing to welcome diners from November 16. Originally expected in October, the new offering transforms the former gaming room at favoured inner-west pub The Sackville.
The 90-seat Parisian dream is the latest from Solotel group, which has operated The Sacky since 1999 (though the pub has been around since 1876). With the addition of Chez Blue, the slot machines will be subbed out for booths and banquettes, with mosaic flooring, an adjoining cocktail bar, and walls adorned with art and lighting sourced directly from a vintage market in Paris.
Mark Williamson – who for the past six years was head chef at Woollahra institution Bistro Moncur – is heading up the kitchen. “I left [Bistro Moncur] a year ago and went travelling,” he says. “Just burnt out, like a lot of people [after the pandemic]. When I got back, this project came up. I love neighbourhood French bistros – that’s the food I enjoy to cook and eat.”
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As a tasty teaser, the team has released the food menu a month in advance, revealing some subtle twists on French classics. Niçoise is reimagined as a fresh tartare, with green beans, eggs and slices of raw tuna dressed in tomato vinaigrette, topped with a golden potato galette.
The savoury peach Melba is a light plate of peach, tomato and goat’s curd dressed with fennel and almonds. And the croque monsieur comes with melted Comté for your dipping pleasure.
The chicken liver pate is cracking, literally. “We’ve done it like a crème brûlée,” Williamson says. “It’s set in a ramekin topped with sugar and then we blowtorch it.” Once you’ve made the satisfying crack and uncovered the rich spread, there’s brioche, house-made Seville orange marmalade and pickles to accompany it.
Larger plates include steak frites with NSW-raised, grass-fed sirloin drenched in a golden bearnaise and stacked with French fries. Williamson’s star pick is the saddle of lamb. Deboned, the meat is wrapped in spinach, stuffed with chicken mousse and rolled before being roasted whole and carved to order.
It’s a passion project for Solotel CEO Elliot Solomon, who was inspired by a trip to France with his wife and new baby. “A bistro is like the pub in France – like the community living room,” Solomon says. “[We want] Chez Blue to feel local, like a home away from home.”
Chez Blue will open at 599 Darling Street, Rozelle, on Thursday November 16.