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The French restaurant that makes you feel like a Golden Era film star

Written by Bec Whish

Beckett's Glebe

The relationship between food and theatre has always been a close one. Since the Renaissance Europeans have enjoyed dinner and a show at madrigal feasts, while in modern restaurants the drama often plays out directly on the table, with elaborate misty cloche reveals thanks to the liberal application of liquid nitrogen (hello Heston Blumenthal).

While unquestionably theatrical, Beckett’s in Sydney’s Glebe is understated. “I just want to do good food and booze,” says chef and co-owner Jeff Schroeter (Bistro Moncur, Bayswater Brasserie). However, more than good food and booze is delivered. Descending the sandstone ramp to the underground restaurant is an experience in itself, like walking through a portal from bustling Glebe Point Road into a glamorous, secret bunker. Incognito from the outside, it feels like a locals-only hidden gem.

Beckett's glebe

Beckett’s heightens its French cuisine and 300-strong wine list with a full sensory experience of touchable velvet furnishings, romantic light and the tinkling of a pianist on a grand piano. Acclaimed playwright Wendy Beckett, co-owner of the restaurant and its namesake, created the interiors with her favourite set designer. “I wanted a moody ode to the great bistros and cocktail bars of early to mid-century Europe,” she says. “It was also important to honour this iconic local building.”

French Restaurant Glebe

The property was first home to a cottage in 1857, but in the 1970s a meticulous excavation added two subterranean levels with elegant curved ceilings and a grand colonnade (pictured above). These pillars, as well as the sandstone, doors and etched glass windows by artist Anne Dypka were upcycled from a disused church next door. By the 1980s Sydney’s first farm-to-table restaurant had opened in the space; a fact that resonates with Chef Schroeter. “I grew up in a small country town eating home-grown food,” he says. “Tomatoes and potatoes from the garden, chicken and eggs from the coop and fresh yabbies from the dam. My job as a chef is to honour the hard work of farmers who grow Australian produce.”

Chef Schroeter

Schroeter’s talent is most prominently on show in his signature steak dish; Wagyu rump with pommes dauphinoise, sautéed mushrooms and Perigueux sauce. Special mention must also go to his freshly shucked oysters from Merimbula, the gin and beetroot cured salmon and a cinnamon poached pear that emotionally transports me to childhood holidays in my beloved granny’s house.

steak beckett's glebe

Schroeter comes to my table to say hello just as my eyes mist with memories over his pear dessert, prompting a wonderful conversation about nostalgia, scent and food. I’ve completely forgotten there’s a city of five million people above me. “It’s like an underground escape down here,” he says. “Always peaceful, always 22 degrees. There could be a heatwave or a snowstorm happening up there and you wouldn’t know.” Guests would be safely cocooned in this elegant film set, feeling like stars from the Golden Era.

beetroot cured salmon


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