Swillhouse’s Restaurant Hubert to open in Feb

restaurant-hubert-jason-scott-anton-forteLeft, Jason Scott, with fellow Swillhouse group owner Anton Forte

Restaurant Hubert will be the first restaurant and the fourth venue from the Swillhouse group (The Baxter Inn, Frankie’s Pizza, Shady Pines Saloon), when it opens its doors in Sydney in early February.

“Most of our experience actually was in restaurants before Shady Pines, but we’ve never owned a restaurant before. It’s exciting — there’s so many more aspects to it,” said Swillhouse co-owner Jason Scott, who along with fellow owner Anton Forte, took out the top place in the 2015 Most Influential List sponsored by Angostura Aromatic Bitters.

On entering the restaurant, you’ll descend down a spiral staircase surround by wooden-panelled walls, throwing back to a bygone era of dining.

“It’s kind of like you’re descending down into a cellar, and as you cruise around the corner, everything is enclosed and claustrophobic and kind of gnarly — that’s the feeling we want to try and create,” said Forte.


The site features a wine bar, where it will be service from the bar. The feel, according to Scott, is “kind of like an old Euro gentleman’s club.” In the wine bar, there’s wall tables and booth lounge seating and you’ll be able to get snacks late at night.

“It’s real hustley-bustley, it’s more like a waiting bar for the dining room, where you order drinks — a good spot for meeting people,” said Forte.

Here there are two private dining rooms, one of which will feature port. “It’s like a giant version of the Baxter whisky room, but it’s going to be called The Port Cave,” said Scott.

The site was, since the 1970’s, an old Chinese restaurant, and they’re licensed for 550 people. The main dining room will feature a baby grand piano on a little stage, where you can expect to see “some Frank Sinatra, piano jazz, cool crooning and gypsy jazz,” according to Forte.

The main bar is a dining bar, at which guests will sit for dinner; above them on a little balcony is space for the restaurant’s 500 or so wines.

“It’s like the Baxter on steroids, in that sense that someone orders a bottle of whisky, they watch them go up the ladder,” said Scott. “Well, [at Hubert] you’re going to watch your sommelier climb up to the wine storage balcony. It will be lit up and people will be running across there grabbing bottles down — hopefully we’ll be busy enough that someone’s up there all the time passing down bottles,” he said.

Expect to see plenty of old school wooden panelling and burgundy leather seating.

The wine list will be taken care of by Andrew Tyson, who counts Monopole on his resume and grew up in the wine business, Forte said.

Asked what direction the food will take, Scott answered simply: “French-ish,” he said. And then, there’s the theatre.

(Yes, you read that right).

Coming off the main dining room is a little theatre which they want to use for talks, corporate packages, and anything industry-based. “Anything to do with wine, spirits, food,” said Scott. “This was part of the old Royal Commonwealth Society, they used to have community events and presentations here, when anyone from the royal family came out,” he said. In the 1970’s the space was taken over by the Chinese restaurant, until now. “We stripped all that out and found this little space.”

They want the theatre to be a focus point for “creating a real hub, a real community,” said Forte. “It’s got a lot of added benefit — and it’s fucking cool,” he said.

The desire to open a restaurant has been with the lads since they opened Shady Pines, and now it’s finally coming to fruition.

“We’ve had this in our head, for maybe five or six years — ever since we were hanging out together we’ve always talked about doing a restaurant,” said Forte.

“It’s been exciting designing the whole place, coming up with cool ways of using such a beautiful space in a cool spot.”

Expect Restaurant Hubert to open in early February at 15 Bligh Street, Sydney.


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