After two years of construction, the $1.2 billion Westfield Sydney redevelopment is finally open.
I joined the throng of crowds on its opening day last Thursday, but found most of the food court besieged by curious, hungry and patient office workers. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to see the new development in much more relaxed style, hosted by Westfield on a special tour for media.
Charlie & Co Burgers
The kitchen at Charlie & Co
One of the hottest tenants on the level five food court is Charlie & Co, the latest venture by Justin North of Restaurant Becasse, Plan B, Etch and Le Grande Cafe. The concept, Justin explains, has been long in the making. He often noticed businessmen sitting in the gutter eating Plan B's specialty wagyu burger - it was evident that good burgers were in demand and supply was long overdue.
Justin was right. Sydney can't get enough of his hamburgers. They estimated sales of about 200 burgers per day. In its opening weekend, they sold 500-600 burgers each day.
The biggest sellers by far, are the wagyu burger ($16 takeaway/$18 eat-in) with beetroot relish, pickled gherkin and aged cheddar on a toasted bricohe bun; and the federation burger ($14/$16) comprised of a seasoned Angus beef pattie, aged cheddar, fried egg, bacon, sauteed onions, iceberg lettuce and tomato on a sesame sourdough bun.
Trailing in third spot is their hand-crafted chilli crab burger ($15/$17) - a Thai crab cake with Asian salad, lime mayonnaise and sweet chilli jam on a sesame bun.
Hamburger patties on the grill
There seems to be a deliberate international theme with the burger menu, with offerings including the laden Malaysian chicken burger, the maiden Marrakesh lamb burger, macho Mexican spiced minced beef with chilli beans and a sole vegetarian producers' burger of marinated local mushrooms, haloumi and sun-dried tomatoes.
All the burger buns are baked fresh at the Becasse bakery housed within the Westfield complex, still in commercial mode but due to open for retail business shortly.
The sales of fries have also exceeded their projections, with Justin confessing they had to top up their supplies twice over the weekend. The fries are available plain ($6), with herbs ($7) or dressed with parmesan and truffle oil ($8). They sold 90-100kg of fries on Saturday and 120kg on Sunday.
Charlie & Co takeaway box with restaurant newsletter
And who is Charlie? He's Hamburger Charlie, one of the pioneers of the original hamburger. Facing flagging sales of his meatballs at the Seymour Fair in Wisconsin, Charlie decided to squash the meatball and onions between two pieces of bread, creating an instant hit with his portable snack for fair patrons.
The "& Co" refers to the entire team, a nod by Justin to his family of staff.
Wagyu burger sample
A few bites of the wagyu burger sampler are enough to reassure us that this is a burger worth coming back for. The wagyu patty is soft, succulent and juicy, sweetened by beetroot relish and the piquancy of pickled gherkin. The brioche bun is light and fluffy.
Eat Deli Kitchen
Eat Deli Kitchen
We move next door to Eat Deli Kitchen, the deli sandwich bar headed by Michael Moore that looks like it's straight out of New York.
Michael Moore carving the wagyu salt beef
Here, too, Michael was overwhelmed by demand for his wagyu salt beef reuben. He expected to sell about 30kg each day - he went through 80kg on day one and is now churning through 100kg daily.
Making Reuben sandwiches
Michael uses silverside from the outside flank of Blackmore wagyu beef. The wet brining process takes 4 1/2 hours, and he emphasises that the salt beef is always cut to order.
Wagyu salt beef "Reuben"
We're provided with half-sandwich samples and quite simply, it's glorious. The salt beef is tender and soft, served with sauerkraut, swiss cheese, mustard and homemade pickles between hand-carved slices of rye bread. It's sustaining and comforting, in a hazy memory of Mum's corned beef.
The French-style rotisserie
The deli also offers sandwiches with pepper-crusted beef rump picana, slow-roasted pork leg, smoked petuna ocean trout, smoked pepper pastrami, shaved smoked turkey, lemon brined and roasted chicken, poached fresh salmon and rare roasted black pepper beef.
Salt beef carving station
Cloudy Bay Fish Co
Cloudy Bay Fish Co
We make a brief stop at Cloudy Bay Fish Co by John Susman. A committed advocate for sustainability, John's company has been supplying restaurants with Australian and New Zealand seafood for the past twenty years. This is his first retail outlet, offering customers simply prepared locally sourced seafood.
King salmon from Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
in lemon, pepper and olive oil, roasted on New Zealand beechwood
Albacore (white tuna) from Mooloolaba, Queensland
braised in extra virgin olive oil, lemon and pepper
Wild king prawns from Spencer Gulf, South Australia
in a classic cocktail sauce with avocado, peppers and parsley
Hiramasa kingfish from Spencer Gulf, South Australia
poached in verjuice, thyme and lemon
Pizza making station at Crust
Crust Pizza is also premiering its first retail outlet here. Ready-prepped pizzas are cooked to order, a process that takes 2.5 minutes in the oven.
Peri Peri chicken pizza
Patrons are provided with buzzers so they can be notified when their pizzas are ready. We liked the little boxes of crayons provided on dining trays so kids can complete the join-the-dots puzzle printed on the place mat.
A range of gluten-free pizzas is set to be launched early next year.
Cooked peri peri chicken pizza
Fruit salad at Top Fruit
It's refreshing to see a fruit shop in amongst the food court offerings, especially when the colourful displays of fruit salad at Top Fruit contain exotics like dragon fruit, pomegranate and fig.
Some more unusual tropical fruits are on offer here, and Simon Marnie was particularly intrigued by the yellow dragonfruit.
We're told that this variety offers much more flavour than the red-skinned ones, and he's right - the flesh has a marked sweetness that I can only liken to lychee.
Chocolate fruit (black sapote)
We also try the chocolate fruit, or black sapote. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, this fruit is said to taste like chocolate if blended with milk, cream or ice cream. Many people spread it on bread but we try it straight from the spoon. It tastes like a soft custard apple, not quite as sweet, but nutty and gently spiced.
Chocolate-dipped strawberries, bananas, cherries and figs
Via Del Corso
If sweet iced confection is more your thing, you may find it hard to resist the four window display counters of gelato at Via Del Corso. The rainbow of flavours is mesmerising, with a range that includes black sesame, death by chocolate, green apple, lychee, azuki, coconut and kaffir lime, peanut butter, dark chocolate chilli and fig honey pistachio.
I recommend the fior di latte which I'm told is a popular flavour in Italy but not so well known in Australia. Its strong milky flavour is simple but reassuring.
Green tea and black sesame ice cream
At the moment the company sources much of its gelato from nine different companies, but once their manufacturing equipment is complete, they hope to make all their own gelato themselves.
Yum cha trolley at Sky Phoenix
We retire to the new Sky Phoenix for yum cha. The only tenant open on level six, the refurbished Sky Phoenix can now accommodate 400 diners desperate for dumplings.
Still to come in the second quarter of 2011: Sassy's Red offering Malaysian comfort food by Chinta Ria's Simon Goh, as well as another Chat Thai outlet that will include a new emphasis on desserts.
Prawn, vegetable and seafood dumplings
Pork ribs in black bean and chilli
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Corner of Pitt Street Mall and Market Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8236 9200
Monday to Wednesday 9.30am-6.30pm
Friday to Saturday 9.30am-6.30pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Charlie & Co Burgers (Dec10)
Plan B by Becasse, Sydney
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11/02/2010 02:21:00 a.m.