Don’t be deterred by the discreet front door, subtle signage and doorbell entry. Modelled on a clubby New York steakhouse, The Gidley is anything but members-only. However, it does do great steak.
Once admitted, you’re enveloped in a snug basement bar and dining room, secreted from the city outside. All wood, leather and velvet, the hushed décor channels comfort and conviviality. Not least because – as at big brother venue, Bistecca, near Circular Quay – your phone is gently removed as you take your seat. No texting. No social media. An excuse for conversation. (Leniency is granted for babysitters and other emergencies.)
To ease the shock of device deprivation, seasoned servers bring wellmixed cocktails, a classic and very drinkable wine list (including a large complement of Cullen Diana Madeline vintages) and teeny bagels served with beef-fat butter, smoked salmon pâté and cashew paste. Besides that steak – prime rib roast, rib eye or the succulent spinalis (aka rib eye cap) – the kitchen puts a fine spin on other standards. A towering burger, a chunky terrine, a flashy prawn cocktail with spiced Marie Rose sauce and crunchy prawn heads on the side. Around you, waiters in sneakers ferry more platters of meat and perhaps a slice of pecan pie to close.
Basement, 161 King Street, Sydney; open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and Monday-Saturday for dinner.