13 Jul 2016
This is not just a restaurant. Hubert is an all sensory experience.
Hubert is Sydney’s restaurant of the moment. Like many other excited diners, I too followed the creaking wooden staircase in to the belly of this Bent Street cellar and emerged in awe. Is it the best food I’ve ever eaten? No, but this place is an experience for all your senses.
Don’t get me wrong – the food is very good. Very, very good in fact. Based on classic dishes, the plates are hearty, generously seasoned and mains come in large share-size portions. You’re best to bring an entourage to work your way through this very rich line up of French favourites. Think terrines, tartares, blood pudding, roasted chickens and of course steak.
As the grand entrance door clicks shut, all outside noise is instantly erased. Your journey begins now. Whilst you marvel at Hubert’s bottle filled wooden cabinets and gilded picture frames adorning the walls on your way down, the muffled noises of voices become louder as you descend. This is the sound of a good time. 1920’s jazz trumpets play to excited banter, clinking glasses in an opulent room of grand wooden furniture and red walls, warm bauble lights and a piano. I just wish I’d worn a fringe dress.
In an attempt to outsmart the crowds by turning up extra late, we failed. At 10pm we are still ushered into the low lit bar for a pre dinner drink to wait for a table. It turns out to be a fabulous opportunity to order Champagne in a 1920’s coupe glass.
Just 10 minutes pass before our table is ready, and we’re almost sad to leave the bar so soon. But a table right next to the elevated piano in the grand main room distracts us and we marvel at our new surrounds once more.
Our casual and friendly waitress bring out a plate of glistening oysters on a ceramic shell shaped tray.They come with a choice of a clean squeeze of lemon or my favourite, a classic mignonette. It’s hard to say if my senses are being seduced by the amazing quality of these creamy and sweet mollusks or everything else that’s going on around me.
Our entrees tonight consist of an intensely flavoured and delicious steak tartare with crunchy shoestring fries, a cheesy and doughy gougère served with pickles and a rich and tasty boudin noir with a side of caramelised apple. The flavours here are not for the easily offended or those who have a dislike for salt. If, like me, you’re not one of those people, your taste buds are most likely to be doing the Charleston by now.
After a brief consultation with our waitress we reluctantly narrow down the mains to one dish we can physically consume after the rich round of entrees.
My fellow diner insists he’s got insider information on the Chicken Fricassee, which turns out to be one of the best chickens I’ve ever tasted. Brined, dried, steamed, glazed then fried, this chicken is incredibly juicy and comes with crisp skin and an earthy mushroom confit. To our entertainment, it’s served with its feet sticking up in the air. We also manage a side of kimchi gratin, which considering is the only vegetable dish we’ve had, still packs a punch and levels in flavour with all it’s meaty peers.
We decide to finish the evening with a bottle of wine, but cave in at the last minute and order the profiterole. It’s light and perfectly creamy in the centre, but after all those intense flavours I feel it pales in comparison. I did however have fun playing with the it’s opulent topping, the gold leaf which glimmers in the candle light. Yes, real candle light – a wonderful atmospheric addition to our table.
At 1.00 am we are the last table in the house and feel like it’s time to let the staff go home. A quick inspection of the old theatre in a hidden away room is well worth it and we emerge back to reality on ground level. We all feel like we’ve just time traveled to 1920’s post war Paris for the past 3 hours.
The short and sweet:
THE GOOD BITS: A thoroughly enjoyable experience for all your senses. Transports you to another time and place.
THE NOT SO GOOD BITS: Bookings for groups of 6 and up only. Long waiting time if you’re a smaller group.
STANDOUT DISH: The Chicken Fricassee
COST PER HEAD: $150/head for a pre dinner drink, 2 bottles of wine, 2 nibble plates, 3 entrees, one main, one side and one dessert shared by 3.
Location: 15 Bligh Street, Sydney