Glebe has an incredible new restaurant in its midst. Founded by renowned theatre director Wendy Beckett and veteran chef Jeff Schroeter Beckett’s is a must-visit for locals and food-lovers alike. Set within the hallowed walls of the old Darling Mills site on Glebe Point Road Beckett’s is a loving homage to the opulence of mid-century Parisian and New York bars and bistros. The stunning sandstone edifice delivers a uniquely Sydney experience.
Co-owner Wendy Beckett is a lauded member of Sydney’s theatre community. She has written more than 25 plays and directed over 40 more. Her most recent play Claudel just completed its run at the Sydney Opera House to critical acclaim. In order to present her greatest production to date, Beckett’s restaurant, Wendy enlisted the help of long-time friend, seasoned chef Jeff Schroeter.
Schroeter has more than 30 years of experience under his chef’s hat and has worked all around the globe. Beginning in Brisbane Schroeter’s career has taken him to Sydney, London, Switzerland, and Manhattan. He comes from an internationally-trained canon of chefs Sydney rarely gets access to. Schroeter cut his teeth at the Savoy Hotel (London) before moving to Philippe Stark’s designed Royalton Hotel where he worked alongside cheffing legend Geoffrey Zakarian in Restaurant 44 (New York). Ultimately, he returned home to launch and reinvigorate some of Sydney’s most innovative restaurants over the last two decades. With his vast experience, Schroeter has led culinary trends. His talent is to curate opulent menus at affordable prices, something which he has again done on the Beckett’s menu.
Speaking with City Hub Schroeter described his menu as “casual elegance” which is intentionally approachable. “You can come in grab a quick bite to eat with a few martinis and then go home. Or, you can come sit in the back and go for the journey.”
Whilst Schroeter created Beckett’s menu with bistro-luxe in mind, he decided he had to change the menu after the opening night when he witnessed the dining room alive in all of its grandeur.
“The venue is so unique and actually caught me by surprise on opening night,” explained Schroeter. “The room dresses itself up a bit more than I had anticipated. So I actually had to change the menu completely and dress it up a little more to suit the room after the first night.”
Beckett’s print their menus on-site because it allows them to change dishes according to what produce is in season. They can adjust the menu based on the freshest produce that is available. Over the years Schroeter has developed great relationships with all of his produce suppliers and can source incredible produce direct from the producers to the restaurant.
The passion for food and his suppliers really came through as he spoke about regional produce and its various sources.
“My ducks come from Tathra. My John Dory just arrived from New Zealand. When I had Red Snapper it came from New Zealand, just north of Auckland. And when we have Coral Trout, that comes from a guy in Queensland who hand catches them,” said Schroeter before continuing. “It took four weeks to get ducks out of Tathra because they typically butcher and freeze, but I wanted them fresh. So that means I tie in with when they are butchering”
In closing, we spoke about the partnerships between the key figures of Beckett’s – Wendy Beckett, Jeff Schroeter, Sommelier Sasha Siljanovic, and one of Australia’s most awarded and admired bartender’s, bar consultant Charlie Ainsbury.
When asked how the relationship between Wendy and himself came to be Schroeter answered, “it came about through dinner parties at home.” As it turns out Wendy and Jeff’s children have attended school together since the age of three and the families became close friends.
As Jeff explained his wife loves to entertain so they regularly throw fabulous soirées for up to 30 guests in their home. At these dinner parties, Wendy fell in love with Jeff’s signature dish of Queensland caught vanilla lobster, fennel butter-poached, vanilla celeriac, ice plant, and sea urchin sauce. When Wendy saw that the Darling Mills venue was up for lease she immediately gave Jeff a call. When they visited the space for a walkthrough and a wine tasting the space gave them both a “warm hug”. The story began there.
To Jeff, good drinks are just as important as good food. Jeff and Charlie Ainsbury, former Bartender of the Year and International Bartender of the Year, are alumni that worked together at the legendary Bayswater Brasserie.
“Charlie and I go back a long way,” Schroeter said. “He taught me how to drink properly. I thought I knew but he showed me the quality and finesse in drinks that I didn’t appreciate. So I’ve always loved Charlie and what he can do with booze while he’s always loved what I do with food.”
For anybody who wants to have a truly memorable dining experience in Sydney, look no further than Glebe’s Beckett’s. As it did for Jeff and Wendy, the breathtaking sandstone space gives everybody who enters a warm embrace, making this sumptuous dining experience all the more enjoyable.