Coming Soon: Celebrity Chef Manu Feildel Is Launching a New Bistro in a Historic Inner West Pub

At the TV personality's charming new bistro, guests can expect rustic French fare in a dining room that could have been plucked from the streets of Paris.
Maxim Boon
Published on July 02, 2024

Most people will be familiar with celebrity chef Manu Feildel through his prime-time stint judging My Kitchen Rules. Soon, however, Sydneysiders will have the chance to flip the script, judging Feildel's skills on the pots as he returns to the kitchen to launch a new bistro in the heart of the Inner West.

Bistro Red Lion by Manu will occupy the upper level of the 196-year-old Red Lion Hotel in Rozelle, which has undergone a $1.5-million top-to-bottom renovation over the past eight months. For his return to a restaurant kitchen following a four-year hiatus, Fieldel — a sixth-generation chef — is presenting a menu of rustic French bistro fare, including treasured recipes passed down through the Feildel family.

For his return to a restaurant kitchen following a four-year hiatus, Feildel has collaborated with long-time friend and Laundy Hotels Group Executive Chef Jamie Gannon to deliver a concept that can appeal to a broad range of diners through "delicious, approachable food rather than aiming for the stars".

"I want guests … to forget the outside world and feel as though they're dining at my home," Feildel said.

Crowd-pleasing comfort foods will feature prominently, including a double-baked comté cheese soufflé designed for sharing and a country-style pâté with prune and armagnac jam, a recipe created by Feildel's father. Carnivores will be well served with hunger-busting mains such as the pork tomahawk, chargrilled and served with braised fennel and mustard sauce; confit chicken served on a bed of cannellini beans with and kale fricasée and jus gras; and, of course, steaks — here, you can carve into a butcher's cut of beef accompanied by pommes dauphine house-made sauces including peppercorn, mushroom and blue cheese.

Desserts will be similarly indulgent, with a selection that includes a luxuriant chocolate mousse topped with hazelnut chantilly cream, as well as a riff on crêpes Suzette featuring flambéed canelés, the cork-shaped Bordeaux-famous pastry, served with vanilla ice cream.

With almost two centuries of heritage to honour, renovating Red Lion was a necessarily sensitive process. Design collective Co:Aika was tapped to realise a fitout that has the updated finishes today's pub-goers expect, while cherishing the existing charm of this historic Rozelle institution.

And first thing's first: yes, the pub's iconic taxidermied lion will remain a focal point of the ground-floor space. So too will many of the venue's original features, including the working fireplace, balustrades and sweeping staircase. Exposed sandstone walls, contemporary light fixtures and cosy booth seating will add a modern touch, but tempered with a heritage-inspired colour scheme.

The 120-seat bistro on the first floor will evoke the spirit of a Parisian bistro, with a muted yet sophisticated palette of creams, egg-shell blue and taupe, counterpointed by the rich stain of the extensive wood panelling. Pops of colour from modern artworks and other objets d'art will add some playful winks that echo the restaurant's unpretentious ethos, while the restored wrap-around balcony is set to offer year-round al fresco dining overlooking Darling Street.

Don't worry if French cuisine isn't your feed of choice — Red Lion's ground-floor kitchen will continue to serve pub favourites, including the hotel's ever-popular hand-crumbed schnitzel, alongside bangers and mash, pepper steak pie, and a slow-cooked beef ragu bolognese.

Red Lion, including Bistro Red Lion by Manu, will open to the public from Friday, July 12, with the restaurant operating Thursday–Sunday. Red Lion's ground floor kitchen will operate daily, 10am–9pm.

Images: Kitti Gould

Published on July 02, 2024 by Maxim Boon
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