So you’ve met Reign at the QVB. Esquire is her brother. And you couldn’t find two restaurants with greater contrast. Where Reign is light and airy and all things pretty, Esquire is determinedly dark and moody with an aesthetic more geared to practical comfort. It’d be sexist to assume that Reign is marketed to women; Esquire to men. I do know that I take one look at the Esquire menu and feel right at home.
The food menu is listing on a single black page, neatly compartmentalised into bar fare, small plates, larger plates, the grill and sides. The drinks menu is a weightier tome. Unlike the champagne parlour that is Reign, Esquire is all about whisky (there are more than 180 varieties) and wines (about 200).
Seared steak tartare $21
We can’t resist ordering the steak tartare, even if we are a little nervous about the preceding “seared” on the menu. Thankfully it’s not as cooked as we feared. The hand-cut beef tenderloin is pale pink and soft, a fresh contrast against earthy cubes of roasted beetroot and rich egg yolk. Finely chopped eschallots, cornichons and fresh horseradish add brightness; pommes gaufrettes provide the requisite crunch.
Crumbed sweetbreads $22
Crumbed sweetbreads should appear on more menus. Here, the waiter explains, they use pancreas instead of the usual thymus gland, cooked with expertise so each mouthful offers a yielding lushness protected by golden deep-fried armour. Lemon, cauliflower, smashed hazelnuts and nutty brown butter add roundness and complexity.
Esquire dining room and bar
250g Riverina Angus sirloin steak $43
Protein options include pork jowl schnitzel ($32), blue eye cod ($39) and a whole roast chicken for two ($75 served over two courses as chicken salad and then with potato gratin). We’re all about steaks though, ordering three steaks between the four of us.
The steaks are just that. A hunk of seared meat on the plate served with a cheek of lemon and your choice of sauce (bearnaise, red wine, mustards or peppercorn).
350g pasture-fed Pinnacle scotch fillet steak $46
The sirloin steak is good but the scotch fillet is better, a little juicier overall with succulent pockets of delicious fat.
250g Grainge signature MB3+ rump cap steak $44
My rump cap steak, from Grainge Black Angus cattle, isn’t as tender as I expect although it has been cooked to more of a medium than medium rare at one end.
If you’re in serious need of an iron boost, you can order the 800g T-bone steak for $90.
Glazed carrots with miso, sesame and maple $12
We accompany our steak with carrots (the new cauliflower?), glazed with miso and sweetened to an almost dessert-like intensity with lashings of maple syrup.
Potato puree $10
The little pot of potato puree is decadently good, like a Paris mash you want to savour slowly.
Gruyere de comte jaffle with fries and pickle $20
Bar snacks include the classic wagyu cheeseburger ($26) and jaffles. You can order your favourite after school snack fancied up with ham and aged clothbound cheddar but it’s hard to go past the cheesy satisfaction of gruyere and comte. The molten cheese stretches like a long hot summer afternoon.
Esquire Drink + Dine
Queen Victoria Building
Level 2, Shop 1 (Market Street end)
455 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8023 7609
Monday to Wednesday 12pm-12am
Thursday to Sunday 12pm-2am
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Reign at the QVB