Three words for you: roast-chicken mayonnaise. Let that utterance console you while Bentley's doors are closed. And don't fret – the Sydney two-star is only shut between 23 April and 7 May for a facelift that, in the words of co-owners Nick Hildebrandt and Brent Savage, will bring more glamour and sophistication to the bar, a fresher look to the dining room, and exciting new things on the plate and in the glass.
The essence of the design, by Pascale Gomes-McNabb, who also designed their other restaurants, Monopole, Yellow and Cirrus, will remain the same, evolving rather than rebooting. "We have new banquettes being installed along with new tables and chairs and a whole lot of new lighting," says Hildebrandt.
More to the point, the menu is getting a makeover, as is the wine list. "We'll offer more by the glass, especially in the bar, and all those bottles I've been hoarding over the years" – Hildebrandt has something of a reputation in the wine world for holding back some of his more remarkable finds, like some sort of sommelier Smaug – "will finally make it to the list." If you like the sound of five, six or seven pages of Jura wines, plus wines from cult producers such as Ganevat and Foillard on by the glass, mark 7 May in your diary right now, bottle-strokers.
Savage's all-new menu, meanwhile, continues to go its own way, bringing a broad frame of cultural references to bear on premium proteins. Clams and XO sauce come out of left-field to complement roast pigeon; guanciale and koshihikari rice frame Skull Island prawns; and caramelised lactose and "pineapple beer" are the foils for olive-oil ice-cream at dessert.
If the boat needs pushing out, there's the option of Calvisius Italian caviar with whipped yoghurt butter and celery relish at $240, or a hefty tomahawk steak with kombu butter and hand-cut chips that clocks in at 1.3 kilos and a cool $180.
It's not all banker-bonus beef and fancy fish eggs, though. At lunch, your choice of two courses is $65, and it's $75 for three. It's a deal that is, frankly, a steal, not least in the centre of Sydney's financial district. The new expanded bar menu is also more than up to the task of making a full meal.
Those enamoured of the vegetable-based menu Savage writes at Yellow will rejoice, too, in coal-roasted sprouting cauliflower with a custard of chickpea miso and padrón peppers, not to mention the linseed crackers with pistachio butter and Mexican cucamelons.
And then there's that roast-chicken mayo. To make it, Savage reduces a stock of roast chicken wings to a rich glaze and then uses it and the cooking juices from the roasting pan to emulsify eggs and cider vinegar. It's then teamed with abalone that's quickly seared, sliced finely and plated up with pickled hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. We'll see you on 7 May.
Bentley, 27 O'Connell St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 8214 0505, thebentley.com.au