Jane is a tribute to Tristan Rosier’s grandmother. The new restaurant, which opened in Surry Hills last month, is the counterpart to the chef’s first venue; dégustation-only fine diner Arthur (named after his grandfather). Its design is inspired by Rosier’s grandparents’ house, which he visited often growing up. Fortunately for us though, there are no plastic-covered couches, lurid floral wallpapers and carpeted bathrooms in sight.
“People are maybe taking it a little bit out of context when I say Jane’s inspired by my grandparents’ house, because their house was actually sick,” says Rosier.
“It had brown carpet and pink suede couches and this kind of metallic bamboo wallpaper, and there were chandeliers and heaps of timber furniture,” he says. “It was actually super cool and – at the time – really cutting edge.”
Cocktail honey bugs with tarragon butter sauce. Photo: Nikki To
Jane is in Japanese burger spot Bar Ume’s old premises but the interior rework, by Luchetti Krelle Studios, has rendered it nearly unrecognisable. The first thing you’ll see is a big eight-seat round marble table by the window, lit by a low-hanging chandelier and topped with a red marble lazy susan. The bar – also marble – stretches along the length of the main dining room. You can take a seat at one of the apricot-coloured bar stools for a pre-dinner drink, or settle in for your whole meal there. A caramel-leather banquette runs along the wall facing the bar; in the next room over, continuing the yellow theme, there are a handful of cosy two-seater booths upholstered in thick golden wattle corduroy.
It’s a dynamic space that’s clearly designed to accommodate all kinds of evenings – from a wine and snack, to a big and boisterous hours-long meal. And that’s why, unlike at Arthur a couple of blocks away, Jane is an à la carte affair. So although the flavours and themes at the two restaurants share much in common – all-Australian, often native, ingredients; European-inspired dishes where house-made condiments and seasonings star – those elements get expressed quite differently.
“At Arthur, we’re really going for consistency because at the dégustation every single person in the room has to have the exact same experience on the plate,” says Rosier.
That means a lot of buying in bulk, and deviation from the game plan isn’t really possible.
“But at Jane, we can build dishes in a way that can be quite spontaneous with what’s coming in on the day,” Rosier says.
The banquette at Jane. Photo: Nikki To
Head chef Victoria Scriven leads the kitchen. She’s Arthur’s former sous chef and also spent time on the pans at acclaimed Chippendale diner Ester. Her menu is short and sharp and, just like the interiors, wears its Australian nostalgia and old-school influences proudly on its sleeves – but never in a smug or kitschy way. It’s rustic but thoroughly modern cooking.
Start your meal with a couple of Sydney rock oysters with a desert lime mignonette, or go for some cocktail honey bugs with tarragon butter sauce. (Actually, just order both.) Next, try the raw tuna with watermelon, lemon aspen and breadcrisp. A kangaroo and bush tomato tartare wreathed with shoestring fries is hard to turn away, and so is a plate of house-made boar saucisson with fat blackberries and pickled cipollini onions.
The mains will make you feel like you’re eating at your grandmother’s house, if only because the portions are so generous. A juicy 500-gram lamb chop – served with pesto and a dramatic tableside jus pour, will be the keystone of your meal if you order it. A tender skin-on Murray Cod fillet comes in a native curry. With a group? The one-kilo rib eye with accompaniments should get everybody where they need to go. For dessert, Jane’s Pink Cake – something like a cross between a pav and a classic sponge topped with a Golden Gaytime-esque rubble – is the headline act. But the macadamia and wattleseed savarin, and the mango sorbet and sheep’s yoghurt granita, are equally worthwhile.
500-gram lamb Barnsley chop. Photo: Nikki To
Kyle Reno Lenci (ex-Restaurant Hubert) has put together an all-Australian wine list. There are around 20 well-priced wines by-the-glass, plus a handful of Coravin pours from rarer bottles. By the bottle, the rest of the snappy and balanced list is made up of styles and varieties from just about every prominent Aussie growing region (and some lesser-known ones, too). Cocktails are handled by former Bulletin Place and Diageo’s 2021 World Class Australia bartender of the year Evan Stroeve. Signatures include the Australiano: a twist on an Americano made with all-local spirits and ingredients, and a Summer Daiquiri, a warm-weather-friendly mango number that tastes like sunburn and backyard cricket.
Everything at Jane – food, drinks, service and design – is on-song and on-theme. Its fastidious blend of spontaneity, warm hospitality and attention to detail combine to form a relaxed and confident restaurant that feels like it’s been on Bourke Street for years, not for just a couple of weeks. If you’re comfortable going out right now, you’ll be richly rewarded by a meal here.
There are the things you’ll notice at Jane, then there are all of the small touches that Rosier has included for Jane herself.
“It’s just the subtle details that will really hit home for her that a lot of people won’t necessarily notice but she definitely will – like the colour of the leather we use is like the shoes she used to wear – just these little things she might notice,” says Rosier.
“I’m looking forward to it – she’s so happy.”