Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Guillaume Brahimi announces post-Bennelong restaurant

Guillaume Brahimi

Chef Guillaume Brahimi

Pre-empting his well-publicised push exit from Guillaume at Bennelong next month, chef Guillaume Brahimi has already announced his sequel to his French fine-dining restaurant, which this year received a top-rated Three Hats by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide (whether the extra hat was deserved, or just a pity vote by his food journo peers, is worthy of another blog discussion).

Brahimi’s follow-up to his iconic Sydney Opera House restaurant will move to Paddington, at the stalwart Darcy’s Restaurant site. It looks like a fantastic move for Brahimi. Darcy’s has long been an iconic Italian restaurant to the Eastern Suburbs’ moneyed set – a seamless fit for Brahimi’s upmarket French cuisine – but for years has floundered in terms of public image and critical reception (I never ate there, nor was ever inclined to, so I can’t comment about the food). Brahimi will be giving a greater seasonal focus to his skilled French cooking to a very cosy corner of Paddington that’s crawling distance that other hatted local, The Four in Hand.

So what do you think of the move? Is it a face-saving lateral shift, a more intimate improvement, a downgrade for a chef who’s presided over the highest-profile restaurant space in Sydney, or something entirely different?

For more on the move, here’s today’s press release:



After much anticipation, chef and restaurateur Guillaume Brahimi has announced that he will open a new Sydney restaurant in early 2014.

Brahimi and his team will move into the beautiful and historic Darcy’s Restaurant site in Paddington, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and will reopen as guillaume by Easter 2014. The new restaurant will see his award-winning team continue the high standard they have become known for at the iconic three- hatted Guillaume at Bennelong.

The restaurant will reflect Brahimi’s philosophy of high quality produce-driven food and will serve an ever-changing menu focused on the seasonal produce of the day.

Brahimi said “My team and I are so excited at the prospect of this new restaurant. It is a fresh start for us in a wonderful venue, full of character and history, a real Sydney institution. We have some ambitious plans that I believe will raise the standard of what we do to a whole new level. I believe it will make the perfect home for my team and me to create something very special.”

Guillaume said “Attilio Marinangeli is one of Sydney’s notable restaurateurs and Darcy’s has been an iconic restaurant for more than thirty eight years. I am grateful that Attilio is giving me the opportunity to establish my new restaurant in that beautiful restaurant space.”

“Like many Sydney- siders I have a strong sentimental attachment to Darcy’s. My wife and I dined there to celebrate the birth of our first daughter and we loved the intimate and elegant atmosphere. We have since had many happy occasions there and we now look forward to many more to come.”

The team at guillaume will include Bennelong’s talented head chef of 12 years, Jose Silva, as well as head sommelier and former Sydney Morning Herald Sommelier of the Year, Chris Morrison.

Having served over half a million diners since 2001, Brahimi’s current restaurant Guillaume at Bennelong will mark its last service on December 31st, New Year’s Eve, to be followed by the move to the new premises in Paddington.

Brahimi has operated some of Sydney’s most acclaimed restaurants since the early 1990s when he moved from Paris where he worked for Joel Robuchon. His restaurants have included two–hatted Pond in Potts Point, Quay, which earned three hats, and finally, since 2001, the three hatted Guillaume at Bennelong.

His restaurants have won the title of Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year and The Sydney Morning Herald’s Best New Restaurant as well as numerous other accolades, and in 2013 Guillaume was awarded the Vittoria Legend Award for outstanding contribution to the industry.

Brahimi currently operates two other restaurants, Bistro Guillaume in the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne, and Bistro Guillaume in Crown Casino in Perth. He was appointed Culinary Director of Crown Resorts in May 2013. He is also ambassador for Tefal and Samsung.

Following Council approval, renovations will begin at the Paddington site in early January and guillaume will open prior to Easter 2014 at 92 Hargrave Street, Paddington, Sydney. 

New York to Paris in less than an hour

I love being in New York, but like every city resident, there comes a time when you need to ditch the asphalt jungle for a bit of leafy serenity. So Sarah and I borrowed my aunt’s red Toyota convertible (wouldn’t you?) and we hightailed it with the top down from Hoboken up the Hudson River, across the Jersey state line to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village of Piermont in New York’s semi-rural Rockland County.

Piermont is like an oasis of calm within an easy 50-minute drive (give or take) from Manhattan, and sits comfortably on the eastern banks of the Hudson River. There’s not much to do here, save a scattering of restaurants, a café, some twee boutiques and a bike shop, but that’s the point. You just grab a copy of the New York Times, slurp on a cappuccino and watch as time slows down to its natural state. Road cyclists also have made Piermont a stop on their regular long-distance workouts from Manhattan, spinning over the George Washing Bridge stopping en route to Nyack – either as a caffeine stop, or as a piker’s early turnaround point.


I had gotten good feedback on an upscale eatery in Piermont, Freelance, but it was too dark inside for the rare sunlight of this ever-raining June in New York. So instead, we opted for the sprawling sidewalk tables of the – who’d have guessed? – Sidewalk Bistro, on the main drag through town, and were warmly greeted by the familiar, but not fawning, staff.

We weren’t starving, having enjoyed coffee and the newspaper at the nearby café, so we merely shared an order of onion soup gratin and the Kobe beef hamburger with frites. Yes, it wasn’t a gourmet meal – it could have been if we had ordered elsewhere on the menu – but we weren’t in for a grand dining experience. It was about simplicity today. And the food met the brief: no more, no less. The soup was topped with the requisite bubbling cheese (Swiss) without overdoing it, and the broth and soaked crusty bread were flavorsome without breaking any new bounds; just what I’d expected. The burger was maybe a touch beyond the medium I ordered (more medium-well, where I would have been happier with medium-rare), but it wasn’t a deal-breaker and the well-executed, thin frites kept things honest, even if I would have suggested more salt.


It took a trip to the spacious, almost luxurious bathroom for me to discover that there’s another, even larger outdoor area in the back of the restaurant. It was closed for the day so that lights could be installed to allow for late-night outdoor dining. Next time, I’d be temped to hole myself up in the rear expanse, where it’s well-protected from the noise of the main street. Of course, there’s not a lot of noise in Piermont, save the occasional visits by passing motorbike posses, but I’ll take all the extra serenity I can get.

So, no, this isn’t a detailed review of the Sidewalk Bistro, but I found it an enjoyable low-frills getaway. It’s also worth noting that they’re hosting a large-scale Bastille Day bash held every years on July 11th, where the local stretch of Piermont Avenue will be closed to traffic and filled with even more festive tables. During our visit, the diners next to us described a recent celebration where the owners pulled out absinthe and were pouring the traditional method: flaming, over a sugar cube resting on a slotted spoon, into a glass. The owners, they said, are extremely generous people, and poured the alcohol without asking for a single penny.

Now, I can’t promise that they’ll bestow the same treatment on Bastille Day, but it might be worth finding out. It is also unlikely that it will be as serene as on a typical weekday, but the neighborhood atmosphere will probably make up for it while you knock back some absinthe with your new best friends at the table next to you, have a long yarn with the wait staff, shmooze with the French patrons who apparently go out of their way to come here, and soak it all up with some classic French comfort food.

Sidewalk Bistro, 482 Piermont Ave, Piermont, NY,

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