Nestled in the sleepy backstreets of Potts Point, The Butler comes from the Applejack Hospitality team behind Bondi Hardware, The Botanist and SoCal. Located in the freshly renovated site of the popular Mezzaluna (and, prior to that, restaurant royalty and namesake Butler's), it brings a little Gallic decadence to the daring dining precinct on Victoria Street. The fit-out is immaculate. Characterised by colonial French themes and mature botanicals set against crisp white decor, The Butler feels like the sort of dining oasis in which the cast of Made in Chelsea might film their season finale.
The real drawcard of The Butler, however, is the breathtaking panoramic view. It's so rare for a rooftop bar to open in Sydney, and the al fresco garden terrace has sweeping views of the entire city, providing the perfect backdrop to a night languidly making your way through the extensive cocktail menu. For the best experience, arrive in the late afternoon and watch as the sky makes its way from clear azure through blush and peach before finally settling on indigo. (The downside? A steady stream of diners bumping past your table to capture their own photos, with selfie sticks in tow.)
Head chef James Privett has created a menu that boasts a range of daring dishes peppered with the flavours of France and the spices of the Caribbean. The menu is broken up into sections with twee names like Peckish, Greenery, Seafare and Field Folly and is designed to for communal dining. We recommend starting with the warm bread served with a pot of rosemary smoked butter. Upon opening said butter vessel, actual smoke comes out — like some sort of delicious buttery ghost. It's worth making the pilgrimage for that butter alone.
As for Greenery, the roasted cauliflower with silverbeet, sweet currants and spiced almonds was satisfying enough to suit any vegetarian as a main. It would have made the perfect accompaniment for the larger meat dishes had it not arrived half an hour beforehand. Dishes were served in order of preparation, which means we'd finished our sides long before our mains even arrived. Hopefully it's just a hiccup that will be rectified over the coming months.
The poached salmon served on a podium of eggplant and curried yogurt was fresh but lacked citrus to cut through the heavier Caribbean spices. The crisp pork belly ($26) served with curled ribbons of crackling was juicy and tender, though it felt like the individual on salt duty was a little trigger-happy. The silky slices were served on a bed of lentils that had a satisfyingly spicy kick, and accompanying mushroom, and lentil crepinette, though delicious, felt a little misplaced on the dish without the necessary sides to tie the divergent elements together.
One of the most expensive items on the menu — the slow roasted saltbush shoulder lamb ($42) — was unfortunately the most disappointing: the meat was dry, and the unappealing presentation conjured up images of a freshly slain carcass. It was served with a bowl of gribiche, essentially a mayonnaise, which felt like a particularly odd pairing, as it didn't serve to highlight the robust lamb flavours. Compared to the delicious lamb you can enjoy at Sydney meat meccas like, Porteno and Alfie & Hetty for the same price, The Butler really needs to up its slow-cooked meat game.
To further highlight the weird service, the boudin noir sliders that we ordered as a starter arrived after we had finished our meal. I enjoy bookending my meals with burgers as much as the next guy, but the sliders would have been better served at the beginning of the meal rather than as an unconventionally meaty dessert.
While the dining experience left a little to be desired, the amazing view and extensive drinks menu saved the evening. As The Butler has only just opened, these wrinkles will hopefully be ironed out in the coming weeks. Our fingers and toes are crossed, because there aren't many better places in Sydney to spend an evening sipping cocktails and watching the sun go down.