Chifley Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Sydney, housing close on 5000 worker bees. The tower and plaza is located in the business and lawyer central of the CBD and while housing an entire suburb of business Monday to Friday it’s a ghost town on the weekends. District Brasserie serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with all the accoutrements for the business week. They are also two venues in one operating their own District Bakery during the first half of the day. Nothing like the smell of baking bread and coffee in the morning as you’re on your way to work!
DISTRICT BRASSERIE VENUE:
District Brasserie’s Venue is opulence and old school New York in design. The design tick goes to Paul Kelly Designs, responsible for such beautiful venues as Sokyo, the under-construction Harbord Diggers, The Ivanhoe, Salaryman, Betty’s Burgers and about 300 venues more. The internals pay homage to the New York business district diners of the 80s and 90s. It speaks old school but modernised.
The space has a casually elegance with a tension between the distressed gritty treatment of the walls, aged brass highlights and the classic polished green marble bar.
The food is complemented by an elegant interior that features mid-century inspired leather furniture. There is benched half-booth seating, bar seating, table seating and some outside seating but outside District Brasserie is still inside Chifley. The kitchen and bar is open and you will notice the impressive Spanish Josper charcoal oven lording over the cookware.
The toilets get a big thumbs up as does the toilet waiting area and be sure to admire the stunning art near the toilets. The stunning food themed art comes from the talented Michael Killalea. It’s a pity it’s near the toilets – this art deserves a more grand display – like in my loungeroom!
Owners John Vissaritis and Sam Loutfi built an empire of cafes across the country and now bring their skills to the Sydney CBD elite. This 200-seater has former Black and Public Dining head chef Mark Knox running the kitchen with Robert Ackroyd (previously Arras), who have a created a menu that heroes local produce. I would call the menu French heavy Euro Aussie but if you have a better description please tell me.
District Bakery is ran by Jason Hillier-Leggatt (previously Chef La Renaissance). Venue manager is Simone Weller (previously Manta) and Sommelier Ben Moechtar has curated a wine list featuring 120 wines, with varietals from European and Australian wine growers. Champagne Pommery, Young Henrys and Four Pines round out the beverages. Add to the drinks the splendid cocktail list from Marco Faraone (previously Hello Sailor). No idea who chose the coffee but Single Origin’s Resevoir coffee blend has been selected to serve both the bakery and brasserie.
Our eight course share degustation was matched with some delightful wine and we also had the joy of kicking off with a District Brasserie Spritz. It’s made with Bombay Gin, St Germain, freshly squeezed lemon and house made cucumber soda. It was divine and much needed following the working day. The cucumber soda is impressive and refreshing.
We were given a royal spoiling for drinks. Following our refreshing starter cocktail the venue slipped in a special ninth course oyster entree and matched it with a NV Karanika Florina Greek Bubbles. Divine sparkling that sells at $90 for the bottle. My god I love my night job!! Other wines we were honoured to try were the Domaine Bruno Sorg Alsace Pinot Blanc 2014 ($14 a glass) and a Curlewis Bel Set Pinot Noir 2015 from Geelong ($68 a bottle) – my fave for the night, had to have a few of this one.
WHAT WE WERE SERVED:
Merimbula oysters two ways with lemon myrtle granita and mignonette: This one is a new dish. I am lemon myrtle obsessed and not a huge fan of oysters. But these were perfect, apparently flown in to Sydney only a few hours before we ate them. For someone who worships lemon myrtle it was surprising for me that the mignonette oysters were my favourite. The vinegar added a more unami flavour my tongue fell in love with.
Raw Kingfish, macadamia milk, fennel, blood orange, lemon myrtle: This looked superb and they had me at blood orange and lemon myrtle. The flavours and textures were divine but sadly this one lost a point for a couple of scales in the dish. Myself and one of my dining guests got them. Minor inconvenience but disappointing.
Heirloom beetroots, goats cheese, delicate leaves and puffed grains: Such a divine salad I could live off. It was lucky for me my dining guest is not a fan of goats cheese – more for me!!
Steak tartare, smoked onion crumble, horseradish, egg yolk, tapioca cracker: One of their signature dishes this tartare is marvellous and incredibly unique. That smoked onion crumble adds a new texture to the meat and the cracker is divine. I will eat this again.
Ricotta Gnocchi, spring vegetables, pistachio puree, leaves & herbs: My favourite dish of the night. I LOVE gnocchi and this was one of the most unique gnocchi I have ever eaten. It’s a definite Spring/ Summer Gnocchi and so light and delightful. Could smash this for breakfast it’s so light.
Steamed Market Fresh Fish (Shark Bay, WA, snapper on the night), spinach, button mushrooms, clams, mussels, lemongrass, ginger veloute: Or maybe this was my favourite? The flavours in this were insane. And the added seafood under the fish was like icing under the cake. Veloute is a French sauce that translates to velvet. It’s also one of the five French master sauces and suited this fish impeccably. This dish would even be ideal with more mixed seafood and fish pieces in the sauce. Any excuse for me to have more of the sauce really.
Riverina Lamb Rump, blackened eggplant puree, charred shallot, sheep’s milk yoghurt, mint oil: This was a difficult one to photograph. The lamb was cooked in the Josper charcoal oven and the meat was grilled perfectly with so much colour still present. It might sound odd but the eggplant nearly stole the show and married magnificently with the meat.
Vanilla Cream, rhubarb and strawberry granita, sorrel sorbet: This was my preferred dessert. So colourful and so refreshing and light. Just what I needed after the mains. I want that granita again and sorrel was a new and innovative sorbet I enjoyed.
Salted Caramel custard, valrhona chocolate mousse, peanut butter ice cream: Apologies – this one is completely out of focus in the background. Another amazing dessert but heavy for me. My dining guest, the always delightful Cecelia from FCBA, worshipped this dish. A joining of salted caramel and peanut butter would be something hard to pass up.
An elegantly stunning venue aiming to cater to the higher-end business people of the CBD. Wether it’s for early morning coffee and pastries, business lunches or post work romantic (or non-romantic) dinners District Brasserie has it all. Food and drinks get a massive tick and if it wasn’t for two scales this would have been a perfect venue for 2017. This venue is definitely a successful sum of its talented parts. I will return.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 2/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
District Brasserie Deets:
PH: (02) 9230 0900
2 Chifley Square, Sydney NSW 2000
BOOKINGS: Not Essential but Suggested
HOURS: Mon 7am – 5pm, Tue – Fri 7am – Late
BAR: Fully licensed
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Not really
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such ***