UPDATE FEBRUARY 15, 2016: Yellow has announced they are going 100% vegetarian, with co-owner BrentSavage announcing via the website, "by treating vegetables with the same consideration as protein we hope to show that vegetarian dishes are just as delicious as any other menu item." Read more about it here.
Bentley co-owners Brent Savage (food) and Nick Hildebrandt (wine) are onto a good thing with their Potts Point wine bar, Monopole. But Monopole is only one bar, and the locals' appetite for the Savage-Hildebrandt combo is such that their new bistro, Yellow, has been filling its 60-seat dining room easily since opening two weeks ago down the road. And, of course, in their spare time the team is preparing to reopen Bentley at the Radisson Blu hotel in the CBD before the year's out.
Set in the Yellow House on Macleay Street, the bistro's name and design pay respect to the building's history as an artists' dive during the '70s when Brett Whiteley, Martin Sharpe and George Gittoes would reportedly grace the place with their presence. Designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb gives due respect to the original building by retaining a bohemian character and featuring exposed brickwork. Her fit-out takes a leap forward into high irony with elements such as distressed wooden tables that belong more at a beachside country kitchen than inner-city bistro, but with the geometric bling of mirrors and gold frames as a counterbalance, we know we're in safe hands.
Bistronomy is not a pretty word. But it's what the Bentley boys are doing at Yellow and they're doing it well. And, frankly, the three-course, no-nonsense format of gastronomy in a bistro is a breath of fresh air in a city that has been overrun by wooden paddles to share and menus that read like new-age awakenings.
Entree options include slow-cooked ocean trout with fennel and almond ($18) and lamb's tongue with pickled raisin and puffed black rice ($17). The mussels and pippies with pickled cucumber cubed and sliced ($16) is oceanic and elegant, the accompanying purees presenting as something we might expect at Bentley but in simplified form.
The menu provokes comparison with high-end gastronomy, which is an admirable ground to occupy when the rest of the city's mid-tier offerings can defend themselves in the name of rustic simplicity. Savage's offerings at Yellow are far from rustic — the coconut sorbet with cucumber soup, lime and mint ($15) is a detailed, well-thought-out summer number that could well become a signature desert.
Service is snappy and informative, and early on a Monday night the place had a Friday night buzz. Open seven nights a week from 5pm, this could very easily become a second home for Potts Point locals. Lucky things.