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Chez Blue

  • Restaurants
  • Rozelle
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. The dining room at Chez Blue
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  2. The outside of Chez Blue
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  3. Tomato salad at Chez Blue
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  4. Chicken liver pate at Chez Blue
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  5. Delicious food at Chez Blue
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  6. Delicious steak at Chez Blue
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn
  7. Desserts at Chez Blue
    Photograph: Steven Woodburn

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

The Inner West’s new home of French fancies has parked up inside Rozelle’s Sackville Hotel – and it's a hit

It’s probably fair to say – affectionately or otherwise – that dining out doesn’t get more Sydney than a fancy French bistro tacked onto a pub. Especially when the toilet speakers are still tuned to the horseracing. But fortunately for Rozelle’s chic new venue Chez Blue, it’s likely to attract far more lovers than haters.

From brioche triangles served on a silver toast rack, to a pair of warm coffee-side madeleines, Chez Blue has close brushes with peak twee. And, that’s before the roving cream bowl at dessert time.

The 90-seat bistro and bar is the latest from the Solotel group, whose 26-venue empire sprawls from Sydney to Brisbane, and includes iconic institutions like Opera Bar, Aria and Chiswick. Chez Blue’s head chef Mark Williamson has swapped the Eastern Suburbs for the Inner West, having ruled the roost at fellow French diner Bistro Moncur in Woollahra since 2016.

Here, tables are fairly wedged into the modest space, donning frilly lampshades and branded tablecloths, with a private(ish) dining area available to reserve. The menu is emblazoned with hedonistic phrases like croque monsieur, chicken liver brûlée, and Le Dauphin double crème that take you to a place far from Rozelle’s hectic Darling Street and the adjoining Sackville Hotel.

And just when you thought you’d sleepwalk past the aperitif list, a few entries could catch your eye. The Absinthe “frappe”, maybe. Or the Amer Biere, which pairs the budget lager Stella Artois with the hard-to-find French aperitif Amer Picon. Or perhaps the choice of three “Mini” Martinis, one using Four Pillars gin that is “croissant-washed” in-house before being swirled with vermouth and a vanilla, cinnamon and allspice oil.

But we’re told the staff favourite cocktail is something called a Brandy Crusta, a sweet, amber-tinted drink, with a salt-stubbled glass, and packed with cognac, passion fruit rum, curaçao, maraschino, citrus, and bitters. For an instant fruity refresher, this, or the enigmatically named “Delicious Sour #2” – which combines the French brandy Calvados with peach wine and citrus – are easy calls.

The most popular dish on the menu is a starter – the chicken liver brûlée – arriving with a troupe of pickled cucumber, orange marmalade and as many as six slices of grilled brioche. The housemade bread, while neither as sweet or spongey as most may desire, is merely a conduit for the rest of the platter. The burnt-top pâté goes and goes and goes – thick, intense and indulgent – sharpened by briney slips of pickle and sweet stings of orange.

Another staff pick is the tuna tartare Niçoise, painstakingly formed in the shape of an ice hockey puck, combining layers of diced tuna and shaved egg yolk beneath a paper-thin crispy potato ceiling. The reimagining of the O.G. Niçoise is not just a thing of structural beauty, and the cuts of green beans within the tartare adds a zingy twist to a familiar favourite.

For mains, the saddle of White Pyrenees lamb is perhaps the most eye-catching choice. The circular cut of succulent meat, encased in parts by delicious crispy skin and strips of fat, is intricately threaded with vine leaves and splashed with herby sauce verte, served on a slightly subdued white bean cassoulet.

The Parisian gnocchi, meanwhile, is a far cry from the reluctant veggie donation. A shoo-in for the best gnocchi in the city, juicy chunks of squash and zucchini are swirled with a zesty herb crème fraîche, and combined with France’s fluffier, choux pastry, more than answer to Italian potato gnocchi.

The French aren’t exactly known for scrimping on their desserts, and Chez Blue upholds the standard. What appear to emerge from the hands of two wildly different pastry chefs are the rustic, pastry-and-cream Paris-Brest, and the masterful, almost mathematical opera cake.

Chez Blue’s rendition of the traditional Paris-Brest – perhaps in defiance of the original dessert’s famous ring-shaped floridity – instead evokes something fresh from a family bakehouse, the golden choux pastry endearingly uneven, and lovingly crammed with praline-flavoured cream.

The opera cake, meanwhile, is a whole other beast. It’s a work of art, layers of almond sponge, buttercream and ganache assembled with razor-sharp precision. It’s rich, it’s hefty, and a palate cleanser between each mouthful will be required to defeat it. The roving cream bowl, which the waiters bring around like it’s totally normal, is the (of sorts) icing on the cake.

A coffee and a complementary madeline is the perfect way to round off a dining experience that feels like a collision of cosy comfort food and experimental French cookery in all the right ways.

Time Out Sydney never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.


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Written by
Hugo Mathers


599 Darling St
Opening hours:
Wed-Thu 5pm-late; Fri-Sun noon-late
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