District Brasserie in Sydney gives customers the best of both worlds. One end features an inhouse organic bakery and espresso bar for quick transactions with a casual seating space. At the other is an upscale restaurant with full a la carte service for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an island bar.
“You can get an espresso and house-baked pastry or organic sourdough Vegemite toast first thing in the morning, then come back and end your business deal or celebration late in the evening with a bottle of champagne,” says Owner John Vissaritis.
“It really caters to that kind of corporate or CBD customer right from the start to end of the day as a one-stop food and beverage service – we even do take-home meals.”
District Brasserie embraces a smoke and woodfire based cooking style, using an oven specially made for the site. The restaurant is renowned for its large, shared-format cuts of meat, particularly its Double Hanger.
“A lot of people have called that cut a ‘religious meat experience’. It’s a very tender, flavoursome piece of meat that connect the animal’s diaphragm to its back, so it’s a muscle that doesn’t do a lot of work,” John says.
“The one we get comes from a Wagyu breed. We cook that over wood charcoal and smoke it with applewood. It gets cooked whole, carved up, and presented on a big, beautiful platter with bearnaise, fresh chili, and horseradish cream, with a nice licking of beef fat vinaigrette.”
District Brasserie’s Wagyu nine-plus-marbling-score 2GR tomahawk is also popular, bringing in many customers from out of town to experience up to 2.8 kilograms of pure meat.
District Brasserie’s coffee offering has to match the quality of its meat, so the café has partnered with Single O since its opening. Two Ubermilks from Barista Group are also installed on the bar for the utmost service.
“The Ubermilk is a complete and utter game changer. We’re looking at investing in a third Ubermilk just for almond milk,” John says. “It helps with labour, but that’s not our focus. Our focus is all about speed and consistency, and Ubermilk gives us those two elements.
“We’ve still got the same number of baristas on, but there’s only so many people you can fit in a small space and the Ubermilk lets them get coffees out to customers that much quicker.”
While COVID-19 was a hit to many city-based businesses, John says District Brasseries fared better than most. The many essential workers of its Chifley Square location kept the espresso bar flowing while the kitchen staff was redeployed for house-run food and wine deliveries.
“The liquor and gaming authority allowed us to start selling alcohol direct, so we were doing batch cocktails and put together a wine list using our stock,” John says.
“Because people are very price savvy, we came up with a little formula where we would sell for $1 under Dan Murphy’s pricing and almost transformed into a little boutique wine business, topping up the cellars of Sydney’s CEOs and middle management.”
Throughout COVID-19 restrictions, John also worked on a sister venue, Ruse Bar & Brasserie, which opened in December 2020. He says the pandemic presented a challenge, but it was one his team could overcome.
“It showed a lot of tenacity from our staff and guests, because people stayed away from the city for many months. It built strength and camaraderie among people attending and working in the CBD during those tense and difficult times,” John says. “Today, District Brasserie is all the better for it.”
2 Chifley Square, Sydney, New South Wales 2000
Open Monday 6:30am to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday 6:30am to 11pm
(02) 9230 0900
This article appears in the June 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.