Sydney’s newest five-star luxury hotel, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, this week launched a reconfigured restaurant. The changes come with the appointment of a new Executive Chef, Eric Costille and Chef de Cuisine, Jordan Hajek, both trained at renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Paul Bocuse, Georges Blanc and noma in Copenhagen. Together, they are leading the modern luxury hotel into a new culinary era, introducing a new menu inspired by the flavours of Provence and the city of Marseille, the epitome of vibrant waterside sophistication.
General Manager, Greg Brady, said Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour “strives constantly to be better than the average five-star. Our aspiration is to be world-class, not Australian-class, and we do that every day in everything we do.”
He said Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s point of difference is that “we are French and our French heritage”, which is the case with every Sofitel around the world.
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s cultural link is Marseille. Why Marseille? Brady explains: “Because the fact they are a vibrant port that has been redeveloped, the same as Darling Harbour. It too is a redeveloped port and becoming more and more vibrant every day. We have this beautiful culinary experience all around Darling Harbour and certainly here in our Sofitel, now with a French culinary experience.”
Chef Costille has developed an “Atelier” theme – a craftsman’s workshop – for the restaurant with subtle design changes in the venue which, on the third floor of the hotel, affords Darling Harbour views for diners. Market-style carts greet guests, immediately transporting them to the south of France from the time they arrive. Continuing that experience, diners are offered a selection of home-made freshly baked bread with a choice of three signature butters – tomato, vineyard (red wine-based) and anchovy – to begin their meal.
Three open kitchens were also introduced, aiming to reflect the essence of a bustling, vibrant French brasserie. A meat station features a Mibrasa grill, which will deliver authentic charcoal flavours to the high-quality cuts of meats including the magnificent 1.6kg Tomahawk steak designed for sharing. Drawing on Eric’s experience of cooking with seafood, the “red kitchen” will offer culinary marine delights such as Red Snapper, Barramundi with Aioli and Prawn Provençale, where the prawns are flambéed in Pastis to give a hint of aniseed through the traditional garlic, fresh herb and tomato sauce.
Signature dishes include an elegant Bouillabaisse – a traditional rockfish casserole recipe from Marseille, with seabream, scallops, squid rings, mussels, baby capsicum, confit and fennel – and the Atelier Burger, a chargrilled signature dry-aged Angus beef patty with balsamic onion compote, pancetta and potato fries, which can also be served “Rossini” style, with a slice of foie gras terrine.
The menu also includes classic French dishes such as Paté en Croute and a Niçoise Salad, this time featuring a twist on the traditional preparation using socca or chickpea crepe along with fresh greens and sardines – a recipe with its roots in Provence and Liguria.
Desserts by Pastry Chef Puti Firmansyah play an equally important role in the new menu and include a French/Australian fusion found in the lemon myrtle crème brulee; a vanilla pineapple mango and the Itakuja floating island made with Valrhona passionfruit chocolate, meringue and croustillant.
There’s also the Red Room, a private dining area lending warmth and intimacy to exclusive functions, and the Wine Cellar, a semi-private area evocative of the grand French caves or wine cellars.
Guests dining at Atelier by Sofitel are now able to purchase the luxury Marseille Experience for themselves, with advanced noticed highly recommended.
Lead image: Pictured at the event on Wednesday night from left are: Jordan Hajek, Chef de Cuisine; Eric Costille, Executive Chef; Maeve O’Meara, award-winning food and cooking author and Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour General Manager, Greg Brady.