The long bridge above Hubert’s dining room was never meant to be anything but a thoroughfare for people going to the theatre.
“This wasn’t planned when we opened up downstairs,” says co-founder Stefan Forte. “We always thought it would be a space for the theatre. There was talk of putting in a bar, but never a kitchen. But we did it, and it’s really working.”
Besides sharing the same heavy wood door on Bligh Street, Bridge Bon Appétit is a totally separate venture from Hubert, and it’s the latest feather in the Swillhouse Group cap.
From the bridge, Hubert’s din is pleasantly muffled. The seating consists of high stools at two parallel counters on opposite sides of the bridge. Although it’s narrow, the length makes it feel relatively big – and it is. Forty-five seats, a combined bar and kitchen, and a wine cool room – which holds the two venues’ vast collection of more than 550 wines – fit in the space.
Because the menu is small, Bridge Bon Appétit is a space to experiment with new dishes. “It’s more flexible than downstairs,” says Forte. “You can be more creative up here. We’re going to change the menu and cocktails every fortnight.”
The current offering starts light and moves to bigger dishes. There is oysters mignonette, and Le Petit Roe Boats, featuring three types of salmon roe served in a barquette (boat-shaped pastry). On the substantial end, there’s a caviar omelette that Forte describes as, “absolutely phenomenal. It’s ridiculously rich.”
The pot-au-feu is richer still. “They slow cook the vegetable and veal stock until it’s really dense and delicious. And with the veal tongue and bone marrow, it’s a hearty, lovely, wintery dish,” says Forte.
As one might expect from a Swillhouse bar, the wine list (which is all natural wines) is extensive. The cocktail list feels familiar, but only vaguely so. There’s the Truffled Flip, a drink that’s egg-nog-like in viscosity. It’s made with a truffled duck egg that’s blended, shell and all, with cognac and crème de cacao.
The Caper is beverage manager James Irvine’s interpretation of a dirty Martini. “We’re using a gin we made in collaboration with Four Pillars,” he says. “It’s got a heap of botanicals, and the capers are where the dirtiness comes from.”
Decor is dark, but in a cosy rather than cold way. Vintage European postcards bought from collectors adorn the walls. Remarkably, the kitchen and bar occupy the same small space. All the cooking is done on a pair of hot plates, and the pass is a stainless-steel island in the centre of the bar.
“[Sharing the space] will be fine for a few more weeks and then we’ll start yelling at each other and getting in each other’s way,” Forte laughs.
Bridge Bon Appétit
Basement, 15 Bligh Street, Sydney
Mon to Sat 6pm–12pm