Two-hatted Bentley has been around for a few years now, but it's only recently, despite a lot of critical praise, that it (and head chef Brent Savage) seems to be starting to be mentioned in the same breaths as Sydney's finest restaurants.
I think it's because of butter.
"Fucking butter, I knew it," I hear everyone thinking right now. "The butter did it!"
I suspect butter, because I think we've had a kind of cultural shift towards food in the last year or so, and I think the shift is away from butter. Kind of. But I'll get to that once I get the formalities of a restaurant review out of the way.
So the restaurant is pretty cool. It looks a lot more like a bar or a casual diner, than a two-hatted place. But the waitstaff carry a sort of cool/easy bar vibe and it doesn't seem out of place. And it follows through to the entire dining experience, which is calm and relaxed throughout. Anyway, tablecloths are way overrated.
The food is the drawcard here (quite ironic for a restaurant) and it's pretty damn impressive. The approach appears to be a bit of the old "unexpected flavour combinations" thing, but with a few tricks throw in occasionally thanks to some inventive technique. I could throw some examples in there, but that would be close to a proper review, and, quite frankly, there are people that are better at those than me.
Which brings me back to butter (serious segue there). I think Bentley is starting to get more mentions because people have started to move away from heavier, butter-based food (ie the French way of doing things) and are heading towards the more modern philosophy of combining simple, high-quality ingredients, without too much manipulation. Bentley's food is not rich or overdone; it's sharp, precise flavours that are combined well. You leave feeling refreshed and invigorated, not bloated.
So how did I find it? Good. Damn good. The degustation was $120 and the matching wines were another $70. And that's pretty good value for 7 or 8 courses of this quality. While I wasn't as blown away by it as I was by places like Quay, Bilson's or Marque, Bentley definitely deserves a place near the top of Sydney's dining scene. When the menu changes, I'll definitely be keen for a revisit.
RATING: Will return to [?]