Restaurant News

Now open: Sydney's Monopole uncorks new location in the CBD

New look, new menu, new wine list. After eight years in the city’s darkest dining room, the Bentley Group is letting the light in.

By Yvonne C Lam
Sydney restaurant-wine-bar Monopole has relocated to the CBD.
On grand opening day, the plumbing at Sydney's Bentley Restaurant & Bar backed up. For its waterfront cousin Cirrus, on day one the lights wouldn't dim, causing diners to eat under the glare of bright lights. On day two, a fire alarm went off in the Barangaroo precinct forcing the whole restaurant – including some restaurant reviewers – to evacuate.
Everything is relative. So considering the streak of bad luck upon début for the Bentley Dining Group, last Friday's reopening of Monopole at its shiny new location in the CBD was a success. "It was the best opening so far," says co-owner and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt.
It's an "evolution" for Monopole, says chef and co-owner Brent Savage, having upped their neighbourhood wine bar from Potts Point and planted their roots deep in corporate office territory.
But perhaps it's a revolution. There's a new logo, a new menu, and a new wine list. Gone are the lights-turned-low, squish-them-in stylings of the Potts Point predecessor, swapped out for broad windows and lots of natural light thanks to designer and long-time Bentley Group collaborator Pascale Gomes-McNabb. "It's quite a weird thing ... We're getting used to it," says Savage. "But the essence of Monopole's DNA is in there."
Bentley Group co-owners Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt.
The food is snack-ier and French-ish: parmesan and caramelised onion gougères on the bar menu, a Niçoise-adjacent salad of confit tuna, green beans, black olives and shaved cured egg yolk on a lettuce heart, and steak frites with a pepper sauce – made with white, pink and native pepper – for lunch and dinner.
Savage sings the praises of the Moreton Bay bug sandwich – "kind of like a lobster roll" – with the crustacean meat steamed whole, diced, folded through yuzu mayonnaise, celery and chives, and served on a roll lined with sliced cucumber. "We really want more people to use Monopole more as a wine bar. It's not too formal," he says.
Tuna salad, green bean, tomato, egg yolk, black olive.
The formerly globe-trotting wine list now zeroes in on France, Australia and value for money. The selection is still 500-bottles strong, but offers more depth from Hildebrandt's most-loved regions: Burgundy, Beaujolais, and the lesser known Jura. "It's like drinking Burgundy, but at half the price,"
There's also light, crunchy reds from young gun Australian winemakers, plus "old school" aged shiraz and cabernet sauvignons from powerhouse South Australian labels Penfolds and Wynns. "They were massive back in the '90s in terms of flavour and taste, but they've softened out by now," says Hildebrandt.
The by-the-glass selection has affordability in mind, with Hildebrandt railing against the current trend of wines hitting the $20-per-glass price mark in some venues. "We've always talked about relevance, and if there's a time to be relevant, it's right now. We're in a recession. People are being careful with their money. We want to offer value," he says. It's about meeting the market at both ends of the spectrum. "You can get a glass for $10 … But if you want a $40 glass of wine, you can have that as well."
The dining room at Monopole.
It's a new beginning for the Monopole team. In October, the Potts Point kitchen had planned an encore of Monopole's greatest menu hits in its final week, but was forced to close earlier than scheduled after a diner tested positive to COVID-19. (The venue will soon become Ria Pizza and Wine, the Bentley Group's pizzeria.) "In a way if it was going to happen in our group, we were happy it happened there," says Savage.
But that's in the past, and they're looking to the future. The new Monopole CBD might not look at all like its predecessor. But if there's ever been a time to let the light in, it's now.
Monopole
20 Curtin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000
(02) 8080 9144
monopolesydney.com.au
Opening hours
Lunch, Wed to Fri from noon
Dinner: Tue to Sat from 5.30pm