The fine-dining French restaurant Metisse is about to reopen in its corner of Sydney’s Potts Point that’s now being branded the Australian equivalent of the Marais in Paris.
As the restaurant prepares to welcome diners with an eight-course degustation menu after closing towards the end of the lockdown for a renovation of its interior, its Roslyn Street precinct is emerging as a destination of epicurean excellence all of its own.
As well as Metisse in the famed Barcelona building, opening on October 15, there’s recent arrival Vietnamese Lady Chu, Bloom Cafe Aperitivo launching this week, a gourmet grocer setting up that will specialise in truffles and caviar, the 69-year-old Piccolo Bar that’s just become an aperitivo bar, and one of Sydney’s few dedicated cheese shops.
“You’d expect a restaurant like ours to be in the centre of the city or in Paris or in Soho in London, not Potts Point,” said Metisse spokesperson Laura Carson. “But it’s in an area where there’s a lot happening now, and it’s very exciting.”
Kings Cross has been hard hit over the past few years by the lockout laws, then COVID-19 and the lockdowns, but the businesses on Roslyn Street feel it’s now welcoming a new dawn.
“This precinct has been very quiet but we opened eight weeks ago, and it’s going gangbusters,” says misschu founder Nahji Chu of Lady Chu, a takeaway store and catering business. “I’ve had my eye on it for a while and now I think of it as like Paris’s the Marais, a kind of East Village, New York.
“It’s a fun and vibrant and exciting part of Potts Point, and I’ve always been an off-the-main-drag kind of girl.”
The 30-seat Metisse is located in the award-winning Durbach Block-designed triangular building fronting Roslyn Street and Kellett Way, just off Darlinghurst Road. Helmed by chef Opel Khan, who has owned and managed more than 20 restaurants in Australia and New Zealand, and is also running the nearby Pizza Boccone and Acqua e Farina, Metisse now has a new head chef, his 22-year-old daughter Lucinda.
It also has a new degustation menu titled The Memory, which features dishes like sea scallop in a roast chicken consomme, gazpacho granita and tomato marshmallow, and duck with foie gras and orange.
“The menu is mind-blowing,” said Carson. “We’ve taken beautiful produce and made it into something you don’t think it could be. It blows your imagination.
“For example, we have a tomato marshmallow, which you’d think would be red but it’s white. You understand the dish for its taste rather than what it looks like. There’s a lot of gastronomy that’s very exciting and something new to Australia and the new menu that’s never been done before. It’s completely, completely bespoke.”
Just up the street is Bloom Cafe Aperitivo which has been operating as a takeaway but is to open its sit-down cafe on October 13, and operate Wednesday to Sunday, with late nights Friday and Saturday.
“In the evenings, we’ll be offering European tapas to be shared with the table,” says manager Mathilde Britsch. “It looks like a lot of things are happening in the area at the moment. It’s very exciting.”
Across the street, at the site of a former corner convenience store – which has moved next door – Josh Rea of Gourmet Life is setting up a shop of gourmet products but specialising in caviar and truffles. “We have our shop in Darling Point but we’ve got a lot of clients in Potts Point,” he says.
“We wanted to be in a location with more foot traffic and, just now, a lot of foodies in Potts Point are screaming out for the sort of thing we do. People are really ready to get out after lockdown.”
A few doors down is the reworked Piccolo Bar, the 69-year-old former cafe which is now an aperitivo bar, with cocktails and small plates of food. Then, at the end of the block, is Penny’s Cheese Shop. “There’s a lot going on at the moment in our Rosy posy,” says Penny Lawson. “I’d like to think that’s something to do with me.
“We’ve done all right during lockdown. Through COVID, people like to eat cheese at home and bookend the week.”