Welcome to Raphael Place – Sydney’s newest luxury dining precinct set in a historical city courtyard.
If you don’t know where to turn at One Farrer Place in Sydney’s CBD, you’d be forgiven for not stumbling upon this gorgeous courtyard, but you probably wouldn’t forgive us for not telling you about it. This little oasis in the centre of the city is called Raphael’s Place and is home to not one, but two brand new culinary contributions to Sydney’s dining scene. These come in the form of Raphael’s, a contemporary Italian affair and Artistry Garden, which serves up fresh-as-anything Japanese-French fusion.
But let’s start with the courtyard itself, which sits on a heritage not worth skipping past. Both restaurants sunbathe in its historic courtyard, with their kitchens, bars and dining rooms nestled in the basements of the Phillip Street Terrace Houses, which are listed as part of the New South Wales state heritage register. Built originally in the 19th century both for use of the government and as private homes, these are some of the oldest buildings still standing in Sydney’s CBD and their antique charm is not engulfed by the two restaurants to provide one-off character to their intimate internal rooms, in contrast to the bright and breezy courtyard outside.
Managed by Paolo Turina, this Italian restaurant and bar offers a menu which will take you seamlessly from breakfast to lunch, aperitivo to dinner. They boast specially designed cocktails to ease you into the evening including a refreshing Rhubarb Spritz ($17) which mingles Stone Pines Rhubarb, Martini, bitter, prosecco and just a smidge of lemon myrtle. Their taglieri selection of cured meats and cheeses provide the perfect companion to an early-evening drink, while their mains offer sumptuously simple Italian food, counting on deliciously fresh ingredients and a no-frills approach to deliver the taste. On this, you won’t be disappointed, and we recommend the generously-portioned Snapper Fillet ($40) which is served with olives, capers, lemon, tomato and oregano, and oozes with effortless flavour.
No Italian restaurant can hold its head high however, unless it’s able to deliver with a delicately lavish pasta dish, and Raphael’s does not simply deliver on this, but undoubtedly excels. Raphael’s pasta selection is made in-house daily and combines traditional flavours with a fresh approach to offer you the very finest in this Mediterranean staple. We’re talking a rich Pumpkin and Macadamia Ravioli ($24) which treats the taste buds with a serve of parmigiano reggiano, sage and burnt butter, and Italian favourite, Cuttlefish Ink Spaghetti ($29) refreshed with blue swimmer crab, chilli, grape tomato and basil.
All this sensational food is served up in a contemporary and character-ful setting designed by Adelaide’s MASH. Using a wave of modern Italian style that was inspired by Milan in the 1960s and 70s; the alfresco courtyard seating offers a modern and fresh oasis, while the intimate private dining rooms inside the basements of the historic terraces offer intimate and atmospheric cool.
Next door, Artistry Garden offers French-Japanese fusion cuisine with a focus on seasonal, quality ingredients. The menu may appear somewhat eclectic on first read, but to the taste, it all makes perfect sense. That’s no surprise bearing in mind that chef Masahiko Yomoda has an impressive history of credentials after working in Michelin-starred venues in France and Japan (Joel Robuchon and Restaurant L’Osier) before joining Restaurant Arbace as head chef. He’s now turned his attention to creating the simple artistry of this new culinary offering.
The menu offers a vibrant alternative to a traditional French spread. Start off with Sydney rock oysters,($29 6pc) which are adorned with shiso ponzu and nigori sake jelly; or perhaps indulge in the Braised Octopus ($26). Make sure to leave plenty of room for the sumptuous mains which will take your dinner to the next level. Our recommendation would be the Barramundi Kabayaki ($35) which is served with braised Chinese cabbage and a sansho pepper bisque, which perfectly draws on the delicate and sumptuous personalities of both cuisines.
Their pièce de résistance however, is their majestic shared dishes which offer you the opportunity to truly share the indulgence. The Braised Lamb Shoulder ($65) is so divinely cooked, it does not simply fall from the bone, but glides off with such grace, it almost seems a shame to eat it- not that you’ll be able to resist. No special occasion at Artistry Garden would be complete without an after-dinner cocktail. The night’s barely worth ending if it isn’t with a treat like the Beaune and Beyond ($24) which luxuriates in Hennesey VS Cognac, Michel Couvreur Clearach Whisky, cacao infused House Vermouth Blend and honey.
Raphael Place offers a welcome new setting for Sydneysiders to sample and sip their days away, with these gorgeous surroundings outdone only by the food served within. We recommend heading down to this courtyard before the secret is out.
Artistry Garden and Raphael’s are both open now, before the official launch of Raphael Place precinct on Monday 16 March 2020.
Editor’s note: Hunter and Bligh was gifted an experience by Raphael Place. All reviews are authentic and are in no way influenced by our partnership.