Hatch at Humphrey’s Hotel in Sydney’s Hurstville is not exactly a secret. It’s been open since December 2023. But the pub at One Hurstville Plaza has quickly been embraced by denizens of the suburb as its new community hub. Although there is a dizzying number of restaurants nearby, the 350-seat venue feels a bit like a playground where you can choose your own adventure. You can carve off to Humphrey’s, the all-weather terrace and sports bar that has capacity for 220. Or you can frock up for a fine dining experience at Hatch, which has space for 60 inside the elegant dining room, and 22 on the terrace. There’s also a swish private area that seats up to 20 people.
Third-generation hospitality hotshot Mitchell Waugh of Public Hospitality Management Group (also Paddington's The Royal Hotel and Glebe's The Toxteth) is behind the concept, which was created after doing market research in the high-density suburb. The feedback from food-obsessed locals was that they didn’t want to have to leave their suburb and commute into the city to enjoy elevated bistro cuisine. And thus the plan for Humphrey’s was hatched.
Hursty, as Hurstville is affectionately known, has, up until this point, been best known for everything from its no-frills yum cha to cheap and cheerful banh mi and Korean fried chicken. Diagonally across the way from the entrance to Humphrey’s Hotel is a barber that offers an $11 buzz cut. Hurstville Train Station is a mere minute’s walk away. And there’s an underground Japanese grocer a few doors down that stocks everything from togarashi to specialty rice crackers, miso and mochi.
Humphrey’s Hotel is hidden away on level one of a new-build office tower off Forest Road, which makes it popular with the suits from upstairs who are often seen sequestered here around the stunning marble bar for after-work drinks. The main dining room places executive chef Steve Greves (ex-6Head) centre stage and you can watch him in the open kitchen coordinating his team and plating up at the pass. There are a mix of square and round tables, both large and small, as well as circular booths and banquettes. The lighting installations resemble bubbles rising to the top of the glass and add to the allure.
Dinner at Hatch seems to be very much a family affair: some groups have children in highchairs, others are indulging their adult children with a lavish and over-the-top amount of food. And everything, from the glassware to the botanical-inspired wallpaper, bespoke cutlery, leather-bound menus and floral arrangements, is on point.
You can get all the dishes delivered at once or enjoy each course served in succession. We start with the hand-chopped steak tartare which has the golden dome of an egg yolk at its centre and is lavishly showered in parmesan. The tartare arrives alongside a crisp, golden hash brown that we use to dredge through this rich, unctuous dish. Greves has worked as a butcher, and he clearly has a few juicy secrets up his sleeve: the aged pork rack is fall-off-the-bone tender. It’s sweetened with umeshu (a Japanese plum liquor) and roasted nectarines and served with bitter leaves of witlof for contrast.
Pan-fried duck breast is another fine riff on a classic, served pink in a creamy moat of celeriac and parsnip puree swirled with a decadent port jus dotted with roasted grapes. Clusters of chard and fried sage leaves keep the sweetness from being cloying. House-made ravioli stuffed with roasted squash, sage and aged parmesan draws flavours off the beurre noisette it is finished in and the dish is balanced by the accompanying charred greens.
If you’re interested in wines, talk to pharmacist-turned-sommelier Theo Ngyuen (also ex-6Head and Sokyo) who will recommend what to order from the expansive 250-odd list. There are also 12 beers on tap and a list of classic and contemporary cocktails.
To finish, set your sights on Hatched, the dessert fashioned from white chocolate and designed to resemble a Fabergé egg. It’s light and bright and filled with an ice cream, mango and passionfruit yolk sitting on a nest of pandan leaves. Give it one deft crack with a spoon to watch it collapse onto the plate.
Forget hosting that posh dinner party. Hatch a plan to meet your mates at Humphrey’s Hotel instead. It’s next-level good.