Is your desk job coming between you and Continental Deli? If your visits to the Newtown venue have been confined to weekends or the occasional Wednesday night, that could all change with the opening of a second Continental Deli in Sydney's CBD today. The conservas, Mar-tinnies and steak tartare are all making the move across town, but don't go mistaking it for a straight-up replica of original.
"We're running under the same name because we're taking what we love in Newtown and bringing it to the CBD," maitre d' Michael Nicolian says. "But it's not a carbon copy. You tailor things to your environment. It's a different clientele."
The new venue, on the south end of Phillip Street, houses a restaurant, deli counter and bar, with the full restaurant menu and the deli menu available at every seat in the house. After a speedy lunch? Take a look at the short, sharp sandwich list. Nicolian's pick is the hefty meatball and Parmigiano-Reggiano number, a mainstay of the Newtown Continental. There are also deli meats, cheeses and, of course, all the tinned fish you could ask for to make a picnic of it in the park. If you prefer to linger over a steak and a glass of wine, that, too, can be arranged.
Jesse Warkentin, chef at Continental Newtown, also heads the CBD kitchen. His menu reflects a broad sweep of European influences, with dishes such as Fremantle octopus with kohlrabi and romesco sitting alongside grilled meats and the likes of bucatini with macadamia pesto. The kitchen's new toy is a pasta maker, and while it'll be employed across a handful of other dishes, Nicolian says that pasta won't be the focus of the menu. That'd be the conservas.
"We cover a lot of ground when it comes to tinned fish," he says. The team will offer the best of the best at the city location – Don Bocarte, Nardín, Cambados and, of course, Ortiz – to satisfy your taste for preserved razor clams, sardines, scallops and more.
While an exclusive cocktail-in-a-can for the new restaurant is in the works, there are plenty of other drinks to keep you sated, such as the Clover Club and the famously difficult-to-make Ramos Gin Fizz. "Classic cocktails will be the focus," Nicolian says. "They've stuck around for a reason, and that's why we love them."
The wine list is hefty – six times the size of Newtown's – and includes a mix of landmark Australian names such as Henschke and Dalwhinnie, plus Italian, French, Austrian and North American drops.
The Porteño group's resident interiors guru Sarah Doyle has brought her highly trained eye and distinctive touch to the 80-seater, which includes a 16-seat marble bar and a handful of tables outside. Think leather banquettes, pink terrazzo floors, marble table-tops and strings of chilli, garlic and bay hanging from the kitchen.
"The emphasis is on a dining space that feels like you're walking into a beautiful classic bistro in Europe," Nicolian says. "We want to make people feel at home and feel comfortable."
Something tells us that won't be hard.
Continental Deli, 167 Phillip St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9922 7347, continentaldelicatessen.com.au. Open Mon-Fri noon-midnight, Sat 6pm-midnight.