Dinner at the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board? Don’t be put off by the name. The former Sydney Water Board HQ has been transformed, playing to its glamorous 1939 Art Deco construction.

Undertaken by Greenland Australia, the refit of the heritage building – by design firms Woods Bagot and GBA Heritage – took more than two years. It included flying in Italian specialists to colour-match damaged scagliola columns in the high-ceilinged lobby, and carefully preserving water fountains. In 2015 the building re-opened as the 172-room Primus Hotel, complete with a rooftop pool.

Chef Daniel Menzies (ex-Bistro Moncur Woollhara) is executive chef of The Wilmot restaurant on the ground floor, named for a convict who operated a tavern in adjoining Wilmot Street. The kitchen extends into the dining room, putting Menzies on display and providing a full-length view of the restaurant, so he can observe guests responding to the Asian and French techniques of his modern-Australian menu.

The multi-course tasting menu is an easy way to explore the breadth of his talents (and the sommelier’s, if you go for matched wines). Otherwise there’s the a-la-carte menu’s brief list of starters (oysters, salads) and mains, which emphasise high-end ingredients, such as Wagyu and abalone.

Share plates are pretty much absent – this is classic European-style dining, right down to the lengthy list of wines from France, Greece, Spain and beyond.

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Updated: February 28th, 2023

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