The capacious Crown Street site formerly known as Toko is now the home of Andrew Becher’s latest grand venture, Armorica. No stranger to dropping a casual few mill on a resplendent refit, this grandiose renewal is as tastefully opulent as one has come to expect from the self-confessed Francophile behind Potts Point’s fine-dining duo Franca and Parlar.
Once liberated from your coat, deftly hung in the foyer’s bespoke, European oak closet by your impossibly elegant host, you’ll be whisked through the magnificent dining room to your seats. Italian marble, tufted cherry leather, naval brass railings and gilded lamps atop each table – it’s entirely evident that not a single expense has been spared.
This lavish commitment to only the finest of things extends beyond the floor to the sweeping, open kitchen – the back wall of which is lined with exquisite scarlet tiles imported from Spain. At its heart is the custom-built, five-metre-long Josper grill (legendary in the world of charcoal gastronomy for bringing the age-old art of fire pit cooking to the world's contemporary kitchens).
It is here that executive chef Jose Saulog brings Armorica’s extensive menu spectacularly to life, as gleaming towers heaving with oysters, coral trout crudo, rock lobster and prawn cocktails are effortlessly plucked from the pass.
If one were to go all out, you may wish to indulge in warm doughnut balls stuffed with oozing, melted brie, capped with generous signature caviar quenelles, perhaps with a frosty Martini or the Bellini Du Jour.
It may be remiss, however, to overlook the seasonal vegetable tart; an impossibly thin, crisp shell, studded with buttons of goat’s curd. On this occasion it is woven with ribbons of zucchini and squash, topped with delicate fennel fronds and tiny, freshly shelled peas.
The octopus roulade is both skillful and delicious. It’s served in a pool of robust, Alto olive oil and fresh lemon, and topped with verdant little piles of sea-salt flecked fresh parsley. King prawns are hot off the grill, drenched in glossy escargot XO sauce, and served with pillowy steamed buns for wantonly scooping every last smear.
Fairly certain it would be a crime not to go the steak frites, we do. The steak comes fired to absolute perfection, smothered in bone marrow butter and served with classic French fries. The waldorf salad is a masterpiece of plating; artfully overlapping witlof cups, each decoratively filled with thin slices of pink apple, black grape, crunchy celery and candied walnuts.
Pastry chef Travin De Hoedt has outdone himself. The chocolate bar is a mandatory pièce de résistance. A solid slab of branded, gold brushed Valrhona chocolate, it gleefully smashes open to reveal cookie, chocolate mousse and salted caramel sauce inside. An absolutely compulsory order, however full or indifferent towards dessert you may be.
The entire experience was, as the French would say, à ravir les papilles. A grand, glittering jewel in Sydney’s crown (street).