With its soaring ceilings and art deco details, CBD brasserie The Charles feels as though it’s been around since the golden ’30s – even though it opened almost 100 years later. It's the centrepiece of a three-part project by Etymon Projects (the group behind Loulou) that will also include an all-day diner and wine bar next door, and a bar in the basement below.

Executive chef Billy Hannigan (The Ledbury, London) has created a menu spanning Spanish, Austrian and Italian influences. But the real show stopper is the whole dry-aged duck, presented at the table on a silver platter in a nest of Douglas fir and lavender before it’s returned to the kitchen, fried to get the skin crispy, and carved. Bits of the duck are then put through a copper-plated press to create a rich sauce, and the deconstructed bird is served to the table on a silver tray.

In a rarity for Sydney, a dessert trolley roams the room for both afternoon tea and dessert. The work of Rhiann Mead (former head pastry chef at Bennelong), it’s stocked with baked goods such as a classic lemon meringue tart, a 28-layer Russian honey cake that takes two days to make, and moulded chocolates including a take on a Snickers bar and a Ferrero Rocher. Afternoon tea includes a caviar service, scones, and crab and gruyere tarts.

The wine selection heroes grower champagne from small French producers, and cocktails match the elegance of the food. A Negroni en Blanc is served either as a single serve or in a decanter for the table, and cacao Manhattans are poured over a large chunk of ice emblazoned with The Charles’s logo.

The Charles' design strikes a balance between heritage features and newer elements such as a stately timber staircase to the mezzanine level above. White-clothed tables are lined up in front of curved banquettes before the open kitchen, while a trio of booths are set within a wall niche.

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Updated: July 6th, 2023

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