A small door quietly opens. I step through a dim forest-like entrance. Inside, a long narrow hall is lined with willow trees that change colour and foliage like the changing seasons.
Fairy lights lead the eye towards a bare forest. I have a glass of Ruinart Champagne in hand, and renowned Chef Justin North is my guide into his new Bécasse restaurant.
This could well be a dream or a fantasy, were it not for the weight of my camera and the quiet hubbub of our small group. We are on a Westfield Sydney Tasting Tour, a whirlwind dégustation of the final round of eateries that have recently opened on Level 5 of the food precinct.
Back to my dream, and Justin North leads us into the plush 24 seat dining room decked out in dark warm tones of purple and plum, ostrich skin covered tables and a luxuriant handbag stool, as often requested by his female patrons. Wall art depicts a tongue with tastebud receptors, their centre offers a peeping view into the kitchen.
Bécasse Interior (clockwise from top R) willow-themed chandeliers, wall art with tastebud receptors, the hand bag stool, banquette seating
On the other side of the wall art, the chef’s table seats 6 people with a direct view of the kitchen with state of the art appliances.
Bécasse Kitchen facing the Chef’s Table
Bécasse Private Dining Room
Further along, a private dining room with exposed walls in heritage sandstone seats 12 guests.
The reincarnation of Bécasse from its Clarence Street location into Westfield Sydney has no markings of dining in the midst of a large shopping centre. Elegant, romantic and exuding class, it epitomises fine dining with a French inspired à la carte or dégustation menus in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
Quarter Twenty One
Back into the realm of reality, the tour continues with Chef Justin North into his Quarter Twenty One which incorporates a 70-seat modern European restaurant, a fine food emporium with specialty wine store, a cooking school and the Bécasse Bakery.
Quarter Twenty One
Justin explains the meaning of the name Quarter Twenty One. Quarter, refers to the four components that make up Quarter Twenty One: the restaurant, the cooking school, the providore and the bakery. Twenty One refers to the purported weight of the soul being 21 grams as it leaves the body, a recurring theme in each component of the Quarter such as feed the soul, cook for the soul, shop for the soul.
Ready to take home products at Quarter Twenty One
The food and wine emporium includes pre-made meals, condiments, wine and cheese. I spot confit of duck, provençale chicken roasts, Café de Paris butter packs, pastas, fresh vegetables and oven-ready meals – convenience and quality produce right in the heart of the CBD.
Ageing meat and charcuterie at Quarter Twenty One
Quarter Twenty One Cooking School – Cook for the Soul
The Quarter Twenty One cooking school is located within the providore section, and can be seen through the glass walls by shoppers. The space is intimate allowing for 12 participants, and has state of the art equipment, including ovens and cooktops by Fagor, and cameras connected to a large television above the demonstration bench.
Quarter Twenty One Restaurant
Quarter Twenty One Restaurant is a modern European restaurant with a focus on sustainability and ethical farming with former Bécasse head chef, Michael Robinson, at the helm.
Chef Justin North
Leaving Quarter Twenty One behind, the tour continues with a brief stop at Mero Mero, a new eatery offering a range of panini, sweet and savoury pastries and their signature blend of coffee. But it is the tower of macarons in colourful glory that captures attention.
We stop for a taste, and try the lime and cracked pepper and honey and sesame macarons.
Phillip Blanco, the Director of Snag Stand, welcomes us at the Snag Stand, an original concept that was inspired by Australian’s love for a good sausage. With the successes of T2, Mad Mex and Fire Fly Wine Bars to his name, this latest venture is already proving to be a success.
‘Haute dogs’ is what this artisan sausage grill is all about. The lean sausages are preservative and gluten free, using some of the best artisan butchers in Sydney such as Rodriguez Bros, AC Butchery, Rudi’s, Brot & Wurst and Pino’s.
Serving 15 varieties of freshly grilled gourmet snags including spicy Chorizo, Toulouse sausage and German Bratwurst, this is one popular stand that is meeting a high demand.
(L to R) Pork and Fennel Italian on a toasted brioche roll, American Classic woodsmoked Frankfurter on a toasted brioche roll,
German Bratwurst on a rustic roll
I taste the chorizo sausage in a toasted brioche roll and chips with a range of dipping sauces.
Chips with dipping sauces
Snag Stand Board
Pie by Micks Bakehouse
Range of Pies
Niki Di Salvatore welcomes us to Mick’s Bakehouse which started in the town of Leeton as a small bread shop in 1990. Michael Di Salvatore is the proprietor and his pies have won several awards in the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. Originally a wholesale operation, this is their first Sydney retail outlet.
Beef, Prosciutto and Blue cheese
The range of pies is extensive with fillings such as the popular Beef and Beer, Peking Duck, Kangaroo and Red Wine and Massaman Lamb.
Pies on Tasting
The pies are distinguished by their tops and shape, such as the Beef, Prosciutto and Blue cheese pie above with bull horns on top.
(clockwise from top) Lemon Curd Meringue, Niki Di Salvatore, mural
Moving on to Sabbaba, we are welcomed to a Middle-Eastern eatery with Israeli-style falafel with tahini and hummus. We also try their pita bread with baba ghanouj.
Ragù Pasta and Wine Bar
Next stop takes us to Italy for a wine and cheese tasting at Ragù Pasta and Wine Bar with Founding Owner, Alessandro Fuscaldo. I recognise Alessandro from my first Westfield Taste Tour in November when he showed us around the desserts and gelati at Via Del Corso Pasticceria e Caffé.
Bar and Table Seating
Alessandro Fuscaldo – founding owner, Red wine and Italian cheese tasting
A taste of Italy in the heart of Sydney’s CBD
Ragù serves up antipasti, freshly-made pasta, Italian wines, cheeses and it’s the kind of place that reminds you of a bar you discovered in your travels to a remote Italian town.
Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar
Vera Handoko, the Manager at Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar explains how the dumplings are hand-made to precision as we watch the experts roll out and shape the dough into perfect circles.
Dumplings made on the premises
Xiao long bao dumplings
She demonstrates the proper way to eat the dumplings without burning the mouth. She picks up a dumpling with her chopsticks, puts it on a spoon then makes a small hole in the dumpling to allow the juices to escape and cool down. After sipping the juices, she adds the ginger and dipping sauce and the dumpling is ready to be eaten.
We move to Japan at Sushi Hon, an eatery that boasts the longest sushi train in a southern hemisphere shopping centre. The train loops around three islands, serving anything from Nigiri sushi, mini rolls as well as tempura and an a la carte menu. There’s a good range of Sake on display including tiny drums that remind me of our brief sojourn in Tokyo.
Longest sushi train in a shopping centre in southern hemisphere
Sushi bento box and individual tastings
Sake drums and bottles
9 Mary’s Indian
9 Mary’s eatery originates from Perth, Western Australia and serves up a range of North Indian cuisine.
Curries and North Indian cuisine
Spicy stuffed mushrooms and chicken tikka
A brief stop has us tasting their spicy stuffed mushrooms and chicken tikka.
Thairiffic Noodle Bar
There’s a lot of action in the kitchen of Thairiffic Noodle Bar where rice dishes, Thai noodles and curries are served. Diners can also mix and match different combinations according to taste.
Bob Saravut, Chef at Thai Riffic
ThaiRiffic Dining Area
The last stop of the tour takes us to Sassy’s Red where we meet charismatic owner Simon Goh of Chinta Ria restaurant. Simon explains the concept behind this venture which is based on a Malaysian Coffee Shop serving a dose of nostalgia and inspired by jazz singer Sarah Vaughan.
Sugar cane juice on ice – Sassy’s Red premises
Brown paper packaging for fried noodles
Everything from the menu to the brown paper packaging and the take away bags is reminiscent of a bygone era. As he states on the menu, “It’s Nasi Goreng wrapped up in nostalgia. Sassy’s Red is comfort. And is food”
Simon Goh of Sassy’s Red
Much like a peek through the frosted window at Sassy’s Red, our degustation tour on Level 5 comes to an end. The Westfield Sydney Food Precinct has come a long way since the days of Centrepoint food court. Now there is a gamut of eateries from fine dining to comfort food to take home gourmet meals. Just take the express escalator from Pitt Street Mall next to Sportsgirl, and you’ll find yourself amidst an international food precinct set to please discerning palates.
Level 5 Food Precinct
Corner of Pitt Street Mall and Market Street
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