It's been six months in the making, but Guillaume Brahimi's new Sydney restaurant, Guillaume, is finally ready for business.
"[It's been] a very big project moving my key team from Bennelong in the Opera House," says Brahimi. "And it's something I've been looking forward to for a very long time."
The 90-seater, which occupies the old Darcy's site in Paddington, will offer the likes of mud crab with globe artichoke royale and a barigoule vinaigrette and toothfish accompanied by salsify and jamón, Jerusalem artichoke and Pedro Ximénez, from a flexible menu that'll allow diners to choose how much they want to have. "I want people at six o'clock coming for one course and trying a couple of wines by the glass, as well as coming for special occasions and [having] the 10-course dégustation menu," Brahimi says.
It's a contrast to the more structured four-course or dégustation-only deal at his former fine-diner, though Bennelong faithfuls can take comfort in knowing that a handful of the restaurant's classics - the basil-infused tuna, the mighty Paris mash and the chocolate soufflé, for example - have made the trip to Paddington.
"I would be mad not to have them on the menu," Brahimi says.
While the three-level building retains its original floorplan, the interior has undergone a vast (and suitably French-accented) transformation, sporting an airy navy blue and pale grey colour scheme with subtle touches of glamour in the form of Matisse artworks, custom-made Mud plates, Hermès wallpaper and Pierre Frey fabrics. "We wanted to make it elegant," he says. "We wanted people to walk in here and to feel that this is a beautiful place but not intimidating, not a scary place."
And he assures us that while the digs and the vision have changed, the spirit of Bennelong will be very much present on the floor and in the food. "We're just a year older, a year wiser and [are] just trying to [keep] making people happy."
Doors open 2 August.
Guillaume, 92 Hargrave St, Paddington, NSW, (02) 9302 5222
Looking for more Sydney dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Sydney.