High-class French food in a subterranean space on Bligh Street, where the steak is the stuff of legend.
When Restaurant Hubert arrived in Sydney in 2016, it marked the first full-service restaurant from the Swillhouse Group and another successful venue in the hospo group's streak of beloved Sydney drinking dens including The Baxter Inn, Frankie's and Shady Pines Saloon. In the years since, Hubert has built a reputation as a true gem of the Sydney restaurant landscape.
From the moment you open the door, this Bligh Street spot will hurtle you headfirst into a C.S. Lewis-style adventure, taking you from dreary city streets to the resplendent old-world opulence of post-war Paris. It's like an adult's version of Narnia, only this time there's steak and wine.
Once you reach the bottom of their winding stairwell, you'll be presented with a series of doorways. If you take a left, you'll end up in the dining room — a ruby-hued, wood-panelled hall, where ruffled curtains and a baby grand piano take centre stage. One long, expansive bar dominates the left-hand side of the room and, behind it, a two-storey wine library, where waiters scuttle up and down, in search of the right burgundy.
Such a beautifully dressed venue will immediately have you looking down and regretting the decision to wear Birkenstocks. These venues are few and far between in Sydney, so take the opportunity to suit up. Air out your dinner jacket, buy a backless dress and give the old monocle a Windex.
Having made a booking long in advance, you'll be escorted to a romantic, candle-lit table for two. Be prepared for some serious mood lighting and daily live jazz. This won't be a problem if you're here to celebrate six months since your first Tinder date; you might want to think again if you plan on having the "it's not you, it's me" conversation.
The beautifully-designed food menu reveals classic French brasserie dishes. The selections progress from lighter, entree-style dishes — like XO escargots ($3) and prime beef tartare ($32) — to heavy cream-laden mains, like the flank steak with bone marrow butter ($60) and duck a l'orange ($66).
Ease into your meal with charcuterie. The Hubert Baguette ($10) is the perfect place to start — just make sure you don't fill up on bread — alongside a selection of cured sausages ($27) or the duck liver parfait ($26). From there take your pick from the larger share dishes ranging from whole roast chicken with bread sauce and green garlic ($89) through to the extravagant Lobster Royale served in bisque with housemade tagliatelle (market price). If you want to opt for the lobster, make sure you call ahead as Hubert requires 48-hours notice to whip up the dish.
The dessert menu has just five options. There's a gateau au chocolate ($26) made with rich chocolate mouse, hazelnut crumb and salmon biscuit, along with a passionfruit souffle ($32), and a crème caramel ($24) made with a bitter, burnt caramel to balance out the sweet egg custard.
Then there's the huge selection of beverages; you could take the hefty leather-bound wine menu to an airport lounge and still miss your plane. The selection is largely French and can be ordered by the glass, half bottle, bottle and magnum. Cocktails come classic — think martinis, negronis and whiskey sours — but you'll want to try the Bellini which has the added benefit of citrus sorbet.
While Hubert is drenched in lavish luxury, it knows how to have a little fun. Head down every day between 5-6pm, and you can treat yourself to the restaurant's famous cheeseburger for just $13, and keep an eye out for its Mangums and Movies sessions where diners are treated to a French feast and a screening of a classic film in the venue's in-house theatre.
Images: Bodhi Liggett.
Updated: Monday, October 24, 2022