With Hubert’s grand wooden front door and cavernous interiors, you’ll feel like you’re walking into a vintage speak-easy, but it offers so much more than just a hidden underground parlour. When brothers Anton and Stefan Forte (Shady Pines Saloon, The Baxter Inn, Frankie’s Pizza) decided to add a restaurant to their bar trilogy, they went all out.
Seven rooms include two bars, dining rooms and a somewhat unexpected old-school theatre, used for talks and masterclasses. All spaces follow a similar theme, reflecting postwar France, with low ceilings, dim lighting and dark, worn timber chairs and tables.
A tattered grand piano sits on a low stage among diners in the Beatrix Dining Room, and deep-red leather booths are the main focus of the Chester Lounge. Upstairs, a collection of nearly 4000 miniature spirit bottles lines the stairwell; and Bar Normandy displays an enormous wall of wine. There are no windows. Instead, dozens of vintage prints crowd the walls, adding to the intimate and exclusive feel.
Each room offers slightly different fare but expect updated French classics such as terrine, parfait, cassoulet and crème caramel. Head chef Dan Pepperell (ex-10 William Street) was inspired by cookbooks such as the 1914 Le Répertoire de la Cuisine.
Chicken fricassee is prepped Chinese-style, with shiitake mushrooms. The oeufs en gelée ditch the egg whites for dashi. Then there’s the melon en surprise, a half-melon capped with young-coconut sorbet, which hides popping finger lime; sorrel and apple jelly; and melon balls. Dinner is a la carte or set; lunch is a set menu only.
Sip on Martinis to the sounds of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack – sooner or later you’ll forget it’s the 21st century.
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