Update May 2017: Eleven Bridge didn’t last 12 months, having been replaced by a sophisticated and contemporary Cantonese dining experience – Jade Temple.
When in Sydney very recently for a girls’ weekend that was bookended by indulgence and extravagance, where else do you go for dinner than Rockpool Est. 1989’s reinvented version of it’s former self – the freshly-opened Eleven Bridge.
Located at 11 Bridge Street, in the beating heart of Sydney – on the same site that Rockpool’s flagship restaurant had carved out a reputation as one of Australia’s dining rock stars – comes Neil Perry’s newest adaptation of fine dining.
Chic noir or bat-like black?
Inside Eleven Bridge it’s bloody dark. Like you’re going to want to hope you ate your carrots kind of dark. The other half of my girl squad and dining crew, Ali, described it as “chic noir”. I’d say more “bat-like black”, where the 1920s street lamps confuse you into questioning whether you’re actually outdoors. “No. I swear I walked through a door.”
Tables are lit up with a single Winston Churchill-style lamp, which may inspire you to pen a letter. The lighting and colour scheme is complemented by thick velvet curtains, polished floorboards, a crown-molded ceiling and heritage façade. Once your eyes adjust, I do concede that the entire space oozes sophisticated elegance, reminisce of the great dining rooms from the 19th century.
House seats would have to be the private dining room on the mezzanine level, which looks out across the main dining floor.
A new a la carte menu
When you wake up and the first thing you’re thinking about is not where am I, or what day of the week is it, or why do I have a burger stuck to my face, but rather the creamy butterness of the previous night’s mud crab salad entrée with salted duck egg mayonnaise, you know you had a date with Brad Pitt on a plate.
Veering away from its predecessor’s degustation decree, Eleven Bridge’s menu is a la carte. This does not mean it’s a resemblance of TGI Fridays (as some nay sayers feared when it was announced that Rockpool Est. 1989 would be superseded). Unique flavour combos, a produce-driven approach and fresh seasonal food are all very much present and accounted for. Rockpool Est. 1989’s executive chef Phil Wood is still at the helm (as is sommelier Sebastian Crowther), which makes any TGIF fears comical.
First up, neatly delivered onto the double-clothed table was some complimentary honey spelt bread, with homemade ricotta and kombu butter, plus a little nori sandwich to start. Next was the leading lady (the mud crab salad), joined by a beef tartare salad of Blue Mountains Wagyu, apple, Chinese cabbage, pine nuts and sesame, which was ever so efficiently prepared and mixed at the table.
Wheeled over next was main course: artichoke pie enlaced by buttery pastry; and chicken breast, that’s so tender it defies logic, topped with a scallop, bacon and coffee-infused sauce. A complimentary “palate-cleansing” green salad arrived shortly after.
When it comes to drinks, prepare to go into Bilbo Baggins-style battle – the wine list is heftier than Lord of the Rings. We settled on an Italian pinot grigio that I couldn’t pronounce.
For two courses and a bottle of wine (plus complimentary starters, salad, petite fours and a dessert reserved for celebrations, not that we were celebrating anything other than being complete gluttons), the bill came to a very reasonable, given the quality of dining experience, $256 for two people.
Eleven Bridge is…
As Jon Bon Jovi would know, you can’t remain an enduring rock star unless you adapt to modern trends and demands. That’s exactly what Eleven Bridge is. There’s a whiff of Rockpool-of-old lingering in the air; it’s same but different, fine dining but accessible.
It’s a more relaxed, non-tie and jacket version of its former self.
The only downside to an otherwise perfect scorecard was that I found the background music of nothing more than chinking cutlery starkly distressing – this is coming from someone who turns on Spotify before I turn off my alarm.
Overall, expect a sprinkle of food theatre, with courses wheeled over on food trolleys and some dishes finished tableside, along with an intimate setting, an impeccable level of service and a complete celebration in food artistry.
Eleven Bridge is serving lunch Monday to Friday (from 12pm) and dinner Monday to Saturday (from 6pm).
Eleven Bridge | 11 Bridge Street, Sydney, New South Wales
Phone: (02) 9252 1888