Coming Soon: Monopole Is Relaunching as a Fine French Restaurant with a New-Look Dining Room

After 12 years in the upper echelons of Sydney's dining scene, Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt's CBD fine-diner is entering a new era.
Maxim Boon
Published on June 28, 2024

When chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt of Bentley Restaurant Group transplanted their moody-chic mod-French wine bar-cum-bistro Monopole from Potts Point to the CBD in 2020, the move also ushered in a change of identity. The brooding intimacy, dark furnishings and wine-bottle-stacked walls of the OG Monopole were replaced with soaring ceilings, a vibrant vermillion paint job, abstract pendant fixtures and floods of light through the wall-to-wall windows. The menu also brightened, shifting from riffs on French fare to a broader-spectrum pan-European offering, with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and, oui, also French flourishes on the plate, alongside a thoroughly considered and impressively worldly wine list.

But it seems what goes around comes around. The next era of Monopole will see a return to the venue's French roots. Starting Tuesday, July 2, a new-look dining room at Curtain Place will provide the backdrop for a menu of classic French dishes and a more tricolore-centric wine, aperitif and digestif selection.

Far from joining the ranks of Sydney's many casual bistros and brasseries, Monopole 3.0 will be a top-of-class destination for fine French cuisine. "The space feels refined, the wines and broader beverages are heavily French, and Brent has designed a menu of French classics done our way," Hildebrandt said.

Working with celebrated designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb — who, in addition to designing all of Bentley Restaurant Group's Sydney venues, has also created dining spaces for Melbourne institutions including Cutler & Co. and Stokehouse — has tamped down the playfulness of the existing decor. Velvet drapes, sheer curtains, vintage wine posters and antique light sconces tell a more elegant story, underlined by the restaurant's new ivory crockery.

Gracing those plates, Savage's new menu is a French gastronome's dream, although there are still a handful of surprises that might raise a purist's brow. Gourmet virtuosity in the form of quenelle de poisson — poached fish dumplings served in a red fish bisque — and boudin blanc du homard — sausages made from crayfish and dressed with morel mushrooms and tarragon butter — will share the pass with items like the burger de canard, which, just as it sounds, is a duck burger served with house-made pickles, comté cheese, hot sauce and a generous slather of duck liver parfait.

Monopole's wine list has been largely French-leaning for a few years now, but the new list fully embraces this Francophilia with both arms. In preparation, Hildebrandt has spent time touring wine producers in Champagne, Alsace and Burgundy, and now Sydneysiders will have a chance to taste the expertly fermented fruit of these labours. Classic French cocktails and a wide selection of the verdant herbal liqueur chartreuse will also star behind the bar.

While the spirit of the new Monopole is unerringly fine-dining, affordability has also been a consideration for Savage and Hildebrandt. A fixed-price menu will be available during lunch service and for dinner reservations before 6pm, with two courses for $55 and three courses for $70. A five-course tasting menu will also be available throughout evening service for $90, placing a night of extraordinary Gallic flavours within reach of diners on a budget.

Monopole's new dining room opens for service from Tuesday, July 2. Visit the Monopole website to make a booking.

Published on June 28, 2024 by Maxim Boon
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