Aug 3, 2016

Restaurant Hubert.

It's a certain kind of restaurant that's both perfect for and worth the effort of getting dressed up and off the sofa for a school night dinner when it's raining cats and dogs.  

And, I'm glad to say, Restaurant Hubert is one for that exclusive list.

Tucked away on Bligh Street in the city, it's a five minute walk from Martin Place train station through the quieter, business end of town.  The walk is just the right length for you to decompress from a hectic day and commute and the quiet streets lined with trees and a mix of heritage and avant garde buildings set the mood for a dining experience you know will be worlds away from what the George Street end of the city has to offer.  Neither is better than the other but it's just nice to have both the 'look at me' and the more bohemian in mood restaurants doing brisk business in our city.

Restaurant Hubert is an underground bistro and bar which serves the most amazing modern takes on French classics that I and quite a few other people (judging from the full house at 6.30pm on a Tuesday) have had the pleasure of savouring here in Sydney.  It's all dark paneled wooden walls and dim lights as you sweep down the stair. The silk fringes of the lamp shades glow orange as the endless shelves of miniature liquor bottles glisten from behind the glass doors of their display cabinets.  I was wearing a suitably bohemian long, drapey coat and long leather boots which both made me feel 'in character' as I navigated the spiral staircases.  Each step taking me further away from the street level reality of life and closer to a whimsical world of French hospitality.

We were seated at the bar for dinner which was quite fitting given the long day that preceded dinner.  I couldn't even begin to recognize any of the liqueurs and spirits on display in front of us.  Up above, wines were cellared in special shelves in the wall with a clever wooden step ladder allowing easy access from the bar.

Cocktails are $24 each (or $20, I can't quite remember) and the Bellini is 11/10.  The wine list is epic and delivered to you bound in a leather binder.  There's a couple of pages of wine by the glass, beers and then around thirty pages of all manner of things priced by the bottle.

It's always a cause for celebration when the bread basket is filled with perfectly baked bread as well as a generous pat of butter sprinkled with salt.  I've never quite gotten the hang of olive oil and balsamic vinegar nor have I quite warmed to its taste (not that you'd be expecting them at a French restaurant)...

The dining room is spacious and made up of tables and booths in addition to the bar area.  Noise is low and the dripping, softly glowing candles on each table transported me to another time and place.  Or perhaps it was the Bellini.

Pickled octopus with potatoes, $18.

I admit that I was a bit apprehensive and xenophobic when I first read the menu.  With the majority of dishes based on foods I rarely eat and some not so pleasant memories of those that I had tried, I let my friend choose most of the dishes.  I needn't have worried because every dish was perfectly constructed and balanced.  Which made them all difficult to resist.  Even the delicately textured octopus whose pickling juices are a world away from the strongly acidic versions I've eaten elsewhere.

Salade, $12.
Our wedge of lettuce came dressed in a light caper vinaigrette whose recipe I need to google...

Pissaladiere, $21.
You must order the onion, anchovy and olive tart.  The buttery, flaky crust will set your expectations so high that you may well end up going pastry free for as long as it takes to get yourself back here for another serve.

Duck rilletes, $18.
Not just an Instagram worthy of a lake of confit duck with cute, duck shaped toasts paddling across its surface, the duck rilletes managed to be both light and rich at the same time.  The kind of dish I wouldn't mind having on hand in the fridge whenever I felt a night of Netflix coming on.  I hope someone from Restaurant Hubert reads this and takes note...

Malakoff, $14.
A perfect hemisphere of fried gruyere, mustard and pickle?  Yes please!

Haven't got the dessert on me, sorry but this is the half melon..
We should have been stuffed to the gills by now but such is the genius of Restaurant Hubert that we still both had room for dessert.  Our waitress gently guided us away from ordering two desserts and she was right.  The one we shared was plenty.  It's a half melon served on a bed of ice.  The melon rind is filled with balls of fruit and jelly before being topped with a kind of sorbet.  Light yet rich, vibrant fresh tastes without an overload of sugar.

If you're on the lookout for a fabulous little place for dinner in the city, Restaurant Hubert is just the ticket.  They do not take bookings for parties of less than six so I'd suggest you'd walk on over there the moment they open for dinner which is around 5pm.  Even if you're not hungry to begin with, start with a cocktail.  Because you're worth it!


  1. errrmahgerd. Someplace we will have to go in Syd when I come again.

  2. The Malakoff looks amazing, this place sounds like it has such nice ambience!


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