Monopole – ‘The Mean Machine’ Sydney Restaurant Review
Australia’s restaurant designer of the moment Pascale Gomes-Mcnabb (responsible for the recent make-overs at Claude’s and The Bentley Bar) and Bentley’s co-owners Brent Savage (chef) and Nick Hildebrandt (sommelier) are the award-winning A team behind the latest cool wine eaterie to open in Sydney’s trendy Potts Point. Neighbours from the apartment building across the street report that the guys were still putting final touches in the space last Wednesday – which was Monopole’s “soft opening” and media launch party day, but with typical antipodean aplomb the joint hasn’t stopped jumping ever since.
This sleek and sexy 60 seater restaurant is filled to capacity daily from 6pm onwards. YES Monopole is open 7 days a week (from 5pm weekdays and from 12pm on weekends) and also has a no-bookings policy, which will no doubt endear it to Sydney’s relaxed but sophisticated fine dining community and will certainly ensure that Monopole’s 1st Christmas is something the team never forgets.
Former sommelier of the year Nick Hildebrandt has always been known for his eclectic and well-researched wine lists and has partnered with award-winning chef Brent Savage for more than a decade. As a longstanding fan of this dynamic dining duo I just love the fact that, whatever’s on the menu or wherever the venue, there is a always an interesting and well priced (for Australia) grower champagne available by the glass to start things right at Nick & Brent’s place. On this visit the house champagne is Jacques Lassaigne Les Vignes de Montgueux – a wonderfully earthy mineral blanc de blancs grower champagne made from several differect chardonnay parcels around Montgueux available by the glass @ $22.
Whatever your personal poison Hildebrandt is the perfect drinks guide – softly spoken & discreet but never invisible. His wine, champagne and cocktail lists for Marque, Moog, Bentley and now Monopole clearly demonstrate this wine man knows his stuff – but great wine service also means never making a diner feel inadequate when confronted with your exceptional cellar. At Monopole, whether you opt for the house champagne, rare artisanal gems like Jacques Selosse and Cedric Bouchard or well priced unusual reds, this is a great spot for anyone to come and test drive their wine palate any day of the week.
Thanks to the “mean machine” meat slicer which proudly takes centre stage on the long bar and the deft touch of Brent Savage in the open plan kitchen at the far end of the room, theatre of food is delivered in equal measure to wine quality, all presented in a very relaxed environment which offers interesting taste sensations on every shared plate. Its so nice to see passionate people delivering great food and wine without all the pretension that sometimes surrounds fine dining.
From house cured meats like venison and duck combination charcuterie plates ($26 for a selection of 4 meats) to shared starters of grilled scampi with hazelnut butter ($20), heirloom vegetables with baby pink fir potatoes & buttermilk whet dressing ($16) through to substantial mains like roasted suckling pig with charred baby cucumbers ($32), there is something for everyone on this menu. Being married to a 3rd generation vegetarian means Brent even includes ‘at home’ favourites like “Amaranth Cooked in Milk, Broccolini, Parmesan & Oyster Mushroom” ($24) on Monopole’s menu.
It was fascinating to hear Brent explain that he buys his baby sweet corn ‘with the husk on’ from North Queensland because it adds herbal notes on the grill – and yes they taste yummy, but I really fell for the hazelnut butter on my scampi. In terms of flavour, my stand out dishes on the shared plates menu were the Salt Cod, Green Peas, Mint Vinaigrette & Pea Shoots ($18) and the tangy Mackerel with Puffed Wheat, Dried Capers & Pickled Raisins ($22). With over a dozen tasting dishes to share and 30 wines to choose from by the glass (food prices range from $5 canapes to $32 mid-size substantial dishes) as the tongue in cheek name suggests “Monopole” is definitely not cheap but it is very good.
The small but sweet selection of $14 desserts are quite substantial in comparison to the savoury courses, but nonetheless far too gorgeous to share with your neighbour. Brent’s Whisky Chocolate Mousse, Sour Cherry & Yoghurt tastes deliciously decadent rather like a de-constructed English chocolate Christmas Pudding and the burnt butter crumb which adorns his Nectarine & Sorbet Brown Butter Curd is literally to die for.
Whilst Kings Cross residents may be hoping to keep this place as their Sydney local (once the opening buzz has died down) I’m sure there will be be global stream of foodies constantly beating a path to Monopole’s door. I certainly know I’ll be going back for more fizz and food very soon!
71A Macleay Street, Potts Point, Sydney Australia
t: +61 2 9360 4410 w: http://monopolesydney.com.au