Winter is a notoriously slow season for restaurants as many patrons choose to stay in and avoid the elements at night. But we’re calling it — Sunday lunch is going to be big this year. Venues are fast launching menus that combine comfort and familiarity with a boundary push. Hospitality looks at three new offerings in Sydney packaging up dining experiences made for the daylight hours.
The Charles Grand Brasserie
The Charles Grand Brasserie has one of the most luxurious dining rooms in the city. Perhaps it’s the white tablecloths, the architectural chandeliers that hang above them, or the leather banquettes — no matter your design proclivity, it’s a beautiful space to spend time in.
Executive Chef Billy Hannigan spearheads the Etymon Projects venue and is renowned for his classic approach to cooking thanks to a decade spent working alongside Brett Graham at The Ledbury in London. There’s no doubt the dining scene has been swept up by the brasserie movement, and The Charles has played a key role in the city’s renewed affinity for dining.
While the restaurant has always run lunch service, this year sees the launch of something different — La Grande Choucroute Royale. The concept is based on a rustic dish served across brasseries in Europe, which sees sauerkraut teamed with sausages and ham. Hannigan has upped the stakes with a fine-dining iteration available from 12pm each Sunday priced at $80 per person. Pre-orders must be submitted 48 hours before guests arrive, with accommodations for the meal considered but not guaranteed.
The experience sees the table filled with aged pork cutlet; smoked and glazed pork hock; Morteau sausage; Strasbourg sausage; sauerkraut; steamed cocktail potatoes; green velvet lettuce with honey vinaigrette; seeded mustard; and a jug of pork jus. The meal is best accompanied by a glass of Riesling — take your pick from 30 options.
The Old Fitz
Woolloomooloo institution The Old Fitz has been under the care of Odd Culture Group for a while now, and the venue has recently unveiled a raft of new dishes from Executive Chef James MacDonald, who’s channelling all things French and British at the pub. MacDonald’s career has seen him work in the kitchens of Andrew McConnell’s Luxembourg as well as Restaurant Hubert, so you know it’s going to be good.
“It feels right to lean into French-inspired cuisine and create a refined menu focused on comfort and long-established favourites,” says the chef. “It ties in so well with the pub’s charm, warmth, and homeliness.”
The pub has launched a dedicated Sunday menu accompanied by live jazz in the afternoon. There’s a selection of share plates available for patrons to fill their tables with including oysters, duck croquette, duck liver pâté, steak tartare, and pomme Anna with tarama and anchovy.
MacDonald has gone all out on the Old Fitz Roast menu that lists three options: beef striploin, slow-roasted Japanese squash, and chicken Maryland, which are all served with roast potatoes, carrots, greens, gravy, and an all-important Yorkshire pudding. The chef hasn’t skipped over dessert, presenting a short but sharp offering of crème caramel, rum baba with Chantilly cream, and a selection of cheeses.
Sunny and Ross Lusted’s Crown Sydney establishment Woodcut is a newcomer to the brunch game, launching an offering for the very first time. “We have spent a lot of time in NYC and always enjoyed the city on Sundays and how New Yorkers embrace dining out on sunny sidewalks for brunch,” says Ross. “Some of the best restaurants change gears on Sundays and offer a relaxed shared dining experience with great cocktails, and this is what we want to bring to Sydney.”
The shared menu is available from 11:00am–2:30pm on Sundays and is priced at $95 per person, with the kitchen team putting together a separate offering of optional add-ons covering N25 caviar, crab cakes, Sydney Rock oysters, and pepper steak with whipped potato and pink pepper sauce to name a few. The team decided to go with a set menu format over à la carte to foster interactive dining.
“Sharing is a big part of the Woodcut experience, and it makes for a fun, informal catch up with friends where we have made the hard decisions,” says Ross. “I love brunch and the variety of dishes that work for this dining time, so for me it starts with a Bloody Mary and something savoury … tartines are reminiscent of my travels in France, oysters with spicy sausages, and great Australian seafood.”
Woodcut’s preferred culinary technique sees chefs spend plenty of time behind the grill, and the dishes on the brunch menu stick to the memo. “Cooking with fire is central to the Woodcut kitchens,” says Ross. “Working with the team on new and exciting dishes has allowed us to embrace slow-cooked wood oven egg dishes from Europe as well as sweet and savoury treats from the pastry kitchen.”
Pineapple is ash grilled and teamed with fresh curd and pomegranate; eggs are wood oven-baked with za’atar and buttered pine nuts, and bread is woodfired and served with cultured butter and red gum smoked salt. There’s also a hempseed fried prawn sando with caper dressing and rocket, baked custard with prunes and burnt sugar, and a bread and butter pudding with grilled blueberries and hot custard. “We end with eclairs, Madeleines, and lemon curd — Sundays never looked so good,” says the chef.
A roving bubbles trolley makes its way around the dining room and is decked out with NV Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Reserve and Blanc de Blancs as well as a 2008 Charles Heidsieck Rose that can be enjoyed as is or paired with cassis, peach nectar, rhubarb nectar, or orange juice. Classic brunch cocktails — think a Bloody Mary, a French 75, and a mojito — are also listed alongside alcohol-free options. Lunch is served.