The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar opens in Sydney’s CBD
A Sydney CBD art deco building is now home to an elegant, European-style grand brasserie and relaxed café and bar à vin. Introducing The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar, now open at 66 King Street.
Step inside the impressive, heritage-listed art deco reception then choose your adventure. To the left, an all-day dining café and bar à vin that begins with coffees and breakfast, and ends on late-night snacks, cocktails, and wines by the glass. Take a seat at the bar and now you’re ready to ease into a classic aperitif, the prelude to a savoured snack or petite a la carte to suit your mood. To the right, experience the splendid sophistication of the grand brasserie dining room and mezzanine for indulgent dining with a side of savoir-vivre.
“The Charles celebrates the charm of old-school hospitality without the stuffiness,” explains director of culinary, Sebastien Lutaud (Loulou Bistro, Boulangerie & Traiteur; Merivale; Solotel). “The grand brasserie experience is elegant and decadent, but with ambience too. A busy, open kitchen; duck press on the pass; tableside saucing and carving; and roving dessert trolleys create a wonderful sense of theatre that’s reminiscent of the warm and welcoming brasseries of Europe.”
The hallmark of a European brasserie is the house specialty. At The Charles Grand Brasserie, there are two. A Black Opal Wagyu rump cap MBS9+ and the French classic ‘Canard à la Presse’ (in this case a whole dry-aged Maremma roasted and pressed duck), which is where things get serious. The dedicated duck and poultry room allows the chef to dry-age 100 glazed birds at a time for around 10 days each before they’re roasted to achieve the perfect crispy skin. Two extravagant copper-plated duck press take pride of place in the kitchen to create the exquisite sauce for this delightfully crispy roasted duck dish. Do yourself a favour and order the duck.
Classically French-trained executive chef, Billy Hannigan (Loulou Bistro; The Ledbury) describes the menu as European with a generous helping of French technique. “The duck a la presse is classic French but throughout the menu we draw on British, Italian, Austrian, and eastern European influences. Refined, elegant food created using predominantly French techniques is how I’ve approached this menu. We hero the superb produce by serving it simply with a delicious sauce or consommé poured tableside, for example, rather than with overly complex or fussy garnishes.”
While the house specialities are designed to share, the rest of the menu allows for individual ordering. ‘Cooked and raw seafood’ includes a caviar service, of course; and freshly picked mud crab with fennel cream, espelette served alongside a soft pretzel. A steak and anchovy tartare with baby gem hearts and a brown butter poached marron with peas, ham and marjoram feature as entrees. For mains, a sweetbread and crayfish vol-au-vent with fennel, cimi de rappa and vermouth; and a grand schnitzel à la Viennese topped with salted roe (breadcrumbs are mixed with brewing crystal malt in a nod to the classic pub dish).
Rhiann Mead (ex Bennelong, Quay, and Harrod’s Food Hall) heads up the pastry kitchen, showcasing her combined talents of pastry and chocolatier on the roving dessert trolley that’s layered with house-baked cakes, desserts, and petit fours delivered tableside. It transforms into a delicious afternoon tea trolley complete with scones, crab tarts and caviar during the post-lunch lull.
Next door at The Charles Bar, the menu has hints of the grand brasserie but projects a much more casual vibe. It begins with breakfast – freshly baked croissants and pastries, melon and Jamón ibérico; eggs Arlington with house crumpets; or go all out with duck eggs and toasted brioche soldiers topped with optional caviar. From 11am, it transitions to the bar menu which is served until 10pm. Nibble on gnocchi frite with avruga caviar and botarga; chicken liver parfait with cornichons; or marinated sardines with fennel on a freshly baked baguette. Ravenous? Try the rotisserie chicken and frites; flat iron steak; seared gold band snapper with espelette and vermouth; or ‘The Charles’ Caesar salad.
Director of wine, Paolo Saccone (Best Sommelier of Australia First Runner up 2021; Mimi’s; Flying Fish) has curated an extensive wine list of 600+ mostly French and Australian alongside some broader European producers for The Charles Grand Brasserie. “There’s a strong focus on southern France and Champagne, both familiar names as well as many smaller, harder to source producers. The list is extensive and diverse, purposely designed in a way that makes it accessible, helps to educate and encourages exploration. As sommeliers, we love helping our guests discover a beautiful, new wine and seeing them adore it.”
In the grand brasserie, embark on a personal wine discovery with up to 50 wines available by the glass, including almost 30 premiums under Coravin. In neighbouring The Charles Bar, a differing selection of 20 wines are offered by the glass.
The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar is by the team behind Loulou Bistro, Boulangerie & Traiteur in Milsons Point, Etymon Projects. They enlisted H&E Architects, in collaboration with COX, to create a tailored design for each space that celebrates the significance of the art deco building. Delicately balancing honouring the preservation of existing heritage features with new contemporary insertions. The geometric embellishments, black nero marble and brass detailing throughout establish a common design thread between the bar and the grand brasseries spaces. On entering The Charles Grand Brasserie, you’re immediately greeted by the grand double height space and wrapped mezzanine level and connected by the new architectural jewel – a sculpted timber stair. Warm oak timber joinery and marble detailing complement the dining space, balanced with softer styling and material touch points. The adjacent Charles Bar is a moodier palette featuring deep walnut timbers, mosaic marble floors and a commanding brass back bar.
A place to wine, dine, or decamp, The Charles toasts to life lived well.
The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar
66 King Street, Sydney
The Charles Grand Brasserie open 7 days for lunch and dinner, 12pm – 12am
The Charles Grand Brasserie open 7 days for afternoon tea, 3pm – 5pm
The Charles Bar open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7am – 12am