In a surprise move, Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt are pulling up the pegs on The Bentley, the two-star restaurant they've operated on Sydney's Crown Street since 2006, and in its place will open a new eatery from the Claude's team. Savage says that Bentley has outgrown the neighbourhood, and that the CBD remains among the locations he and Hildebrandt feel would work best for the restaurant's next step. "As much as we love Bentley, it doesn't really fit the Surry Hills profile - our customer-base has never really been all that local," he says, adding that the rent in Surry Hills is equal to that of some of the CBD locations the pair have considered. "The next step might not be the Bentley as we've known it, but we're really excited about moving on to new and bigger things."
For Claude's partners Chui Lee Luk and Phillip Haw, the deal is a chance to revive the plans they had for a casual eatery down the road on Reservoir Street, which were shelved after problems with planning permission in 2012. They'll be using the name they'd decided on - Chow Eating House - but the move to bustling Crown Street will steer the concept very much to the casual, approachable side to make best use of the site's late liquor licence. "It's going to be along the lines of a Chinese take on izakaya- or tapas-style eating," says chef Luk. "Even though it's going to be Chinese and inspired by the street food I've seen in China and Taiwan, I think it's hard for me to stop my Malaysian roots creeping in as well." The snack-friendly likes of deep-fried crab claws, taro pork fingers and ribs with sour and sweet sauce will all feature on the all-day menu, and the tables,says Luk, will all hold not one but three of her favourite chilli sauces.
All things going according to plan, Bentley's last service will be in the first week of August, with Chow opening its doors towards the end of the month or in early September. Giant Design, known best, perhaps, for their work on Red Lantern on Riley, will be doing the interiors. Savage and Hildebrandt say they'll focus their energies on Monopole, their thriving Potts Point wine bar, while they finalise the details of their as-yet unnamed new venture.