While seven years is a long time in the restaurant business, there aren't many restaurant owners who can say they've achieved quite so much in that time as Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt.
Since the pair first opened Bentley Restaurant and Bar back in 2006, they've earned two chef's hats in the SMH Good Food Guide as well as three prestigious wine glasses, received glowing reviews, and secured an enviable reputation for their creative wine list and inventive cuisine.
In 2012, they took on a third business partner, Glen Goodwin, and then last year, the trio took the brave step of moving the restaurant out of their comfortable and original Surry Hills quarters, into an elegant new space in the Radisson Blu Hotel, in the Sydney CBD.
"It's a continuation of the old restaurant, but it's also about taking Bentley to a new level, and into the CBD," says Savage. "My vision is to create a fantastic city restaurant: somewhere that is still creative, but which also suits the business crowd," he adds.
For Savage and Hildebrandt, the evolution was a fairly natural one. "The crowd had changed a lot in Surry Hills over the years, and it seemed a lot of our clientele had started coming from the city," he says. "So it just made sense to move closer to the CBD."
While the interior of the new location is much grander and more opulent, the menu is too. While still in keeping with their innovative approach, the menu at the new Bentley Restaurant and Bar is larger, and more sophisticated. "It's a lot more mature, and more evolved in the sense that there's more focus on the produce and the flavours," says Savage.
As well as an a-la-carte menu – with its signature selection of charcoal-grilled beef – the new restaurant also boasts a separate tasting menu, bar menu, and even a dedicated vegetarian tasting menu.
As well as a reputation for remarkable food, Bentley Restaurant and Bar's wine list has also been one of their key characteristics, with over a thousand wines on the list. "We always use small producers, and prefer smaller less well-known labels. The selection stretches far and wide," says Savage.
In keeping with their sophisticated new offering, Savage and Hildebrandt chose the award-winning Melbourne architect Pascale Gomes-McNabb who helped transform the former Bistro Fax into a contemporary and very vibrant new space.
When it came to fitting out the kitchen, the trio continued the relationship they have had with Moffat since 2006, investing in a brand new selection of Waldorf Bold equipment, a Convotherm Electric Combi Steamer, and Washtech High Performance Undercounter Dishwasher.
"I've used Moffat equipment for over ten years. It's always been reliable and easy to maintain, and it delivers on everything it claims," says Savage.
"Moffat's customer service is also excellent and the technology is straightforward. This means the machines rarely have issues, but if they do, the follow up service is fast and reliable," he adds.
Impressively, despite its slick new fit-out and enhanced offering, Bentley Restaurant and Bar retains the creative, down-to-earth appeal that ensured it first gained notoriety.
"All restaurants tend to evolve over time. This is our evolution," says Savage.