“With pubs now you have to do good food to survive.” That’s Dwayne Baber, the executive chef at Good Beer Company (GBC). After overseeing the progressive pub menus at Dove & Olive and Keg & Brew his latest gig is bringing Sydney’s pub revolution to Randwick with the new DOG Hotel dining room, Duke’s Bistro.
Replacing the cook-your-own-steak restaurant formerly upstairs at the DOG, there’s now ceramic share plates topped with rotisserie meats, rillettes, oysters and a bone-marrow brûlée. Baber calls it American-French, and GBC’s owner, John Azar, names New York’s Lafayette (a popular restaurant in NoHo that is credited with giving French food a second wind in the city) as a big influence. “Our three pubs are American-themed pubs or bistros. American-Italian at the Dove, South American at the Keg and now American-French here,” says Baber.
The French, custom-built rotisserie is the centrepiece, literally. You’ll smell it is soon as you walk in. Also noticeable is the hunting-saloon-style animal busts mounted on the walls, which are a rather odd sight in the pastel-coloured, open-plan fit-out.
Besides those on the vine-covered veranda, from most seats you can see into the rotisserie. It contains lamb shoulder served with a smear of parsnip puree and whipped goat’s cheese; 24-hour, beer-brined chicken with bronzed skin and sides of roast potatoes and chicken jus; and roasted pork shoulders served with apple and crackling. If you order ahead there’s even whole lambs and suckling pigs.
The smaller plates are where most of the Atlantic fusion comes in. Mac’n’cheese has a kick of smoked brisket and a sort-of tartine is composed sculpturally around a smoked-pumpkin puree, crispy pancetta and charred witlof. “There's still a lot of classics, like escargot and duck rillettes, confit duck, but we've put a bit of a twist on it as well,” says Baber.
All of the dishes are separate to the downstairs pub menu, as are most of the drinks. The upstairs bistro serves its own list of American–French-themed cocktails, a few local NSW beers and a decent selection of mostly mid-range French and Australian wines.