Have you ever wondered what it feels like to truly sit in the lap of luxury? You’ll know after a three-hour lunch at Brasserie 1930, the elegant hotel restaurant on the ground floor of the new Capella Hotel on Bridge Street.
They’ve taken a fully immersive approach here, gathering everything decorative, shiny and delightful and scattering it artfully across the former Department of Education building. There are towering verdant green walls in the atrium; lampshades that open and close gently overhead like jellyfish in a tropical aquarium; and textural art – ceramics, wire sculpture, textile art – around every corner. The lobby alone is its own gallery tour for visitors staying in the tastefully appointed rooms above. Of course, if you want to level-up a staycation, eschew the flights and bankroll a $690 a night deluxe room here instead and you can pretend you’re the heir to a media empire for 48 hours.
Things get even more luxurious in the bistro dining room. It’s less towering marble colonnades and chandeliers and more quiet luxury homewares that you’ll want to add to your fantasy renovation Pinterest board. They ticked all the boxes on the high-life shopping list: checkerboard marble tiles, glossy hardwood, monochromatic hand-built ceramics, buttery leather, and then a few cheeky pops of colour to remind you that even dining at the black tie end of town is still supposed to be fun. You’ll find yourself wondering if you could find room for a custom Georgia Bisley wall hanging, and maybe a hot pink pendant light at your place. Of course, it’s the rare person who actually needs a personal cheese trolley in their home, but that won’t stop you coveting the beautiful timber display case on wheels that keeps the Riverina blue, Swiss gruyere, and Bay of Fires cheddar at perfect eating temperature.
When it comes to ordering, prepare to go big and go home filled to the gunwales. Mains start around $50, with a fancy vegetarian plate starring a wintery mix of Kent pumpkin, kale, shallots and pepitas, but you can take your meal all the way to the penthouse suite right off the bat with a Southern rock lobster split and grilled with finger lime and tarragon.
If you like your investment dining to take a few more steps than ocean-grill-plate, then the whole roasted duck is the theatrical centerpiece you’ve been seeking. Find yourself a fowl-loving pal who loves to share, because you’re getting the whole dry-aged duck crown roasted until the skin is crisp and bronzed, with the rest turned into a house-made sausage on the side.
Although the prices are high here, the serves are commensurate in their generosity. The Murray cod is a full fillet draped in a creamy butter emulsion tinted pink with pepperberries, and it easily stretches to three servings. And if you can’t leave a brasserie in good conscience without red meat, the rich sticky, short rib has been brined, smoked, slow cooked for 12 hours and glazed – a masterclass in how technique and seasoning can take a sub-primal cut and give it front-row standing.
Now, if you are the sort of person who likes a meal of lots of little things, there’s an argument to be made for approaching your meal upside-down and going hard on the starters here. That way, instead of a prize-winning piece of protein dominating your appetite, you can pepper it with delicate glazed quails, an artfuly displayed tartare, and a tangle of handmade egg-based spaghetti from pasta-maestros Fabbrica up the road, which has been doused in a high-octane flavour bomb of sea urchin, tarragon, butter and spanner crab.
Here for dessert? Give careful consideration to how much capacity you apportion savouries or you may well find there’s no space left for a delicately architectural chocolate mille feuille or the golden shell of brown sugar on a fragile tart.
You can detect the steady, practiced hand of the Bentley team here, with Brent Savage overseeing the menu and Nick Hildebrandt’s exemplary wine work on display in a menu that returns on your high-end investment with serotonin-inducing levels of deliciousness, like a savagnin from Jura that smells like buttered toast, opens with bright acidity and then mellows into some gentle oxidation.
Brasserie 1930 was named for the year the back half of the building was completed, and it has been so carefully constructed and consciously designed it feels like it could well be from a bygone era of aristocratic living instead of a brand new addition to the city. Take the high life out for a test drive by booking a meal at Brasserie 1930. They’ll treat you like a minor royal even if your day-to-day title is more middle manager than “your majesty”.