For 36 years, Claude’s has been a popular and much-loved fine dining restaurant in Woollahra. The highly acclaimed chef/owner, Chui Lee Luk, wished to refurbish and refresh the venue while injecting a sense of fun.
As per the client brief the space has been divided - and clearly demarcated - between the more casual and accessible downstairs bistro and the plush fine dining room upstairs. The new look of the establishment was designed with longevity in mind and to herald in a new era.
Downstairs is now a friendly bistro. A relaxed yet smart place to drop in for a drink and/or a meal from the new casual menu. The brief was to visually enlarge the petite space and give it a more contemporary edge so that the surroundings match Chui’s food.
The downstairs concept was inspired by way of the infamous ‘dazzle ships’ of World War I, abstract geometric patterns that were meant to
obfuscate the ships at sea - muted colours break up the walls, mirrors add depth and endless scapes of the surroundings. There is a new black metal bar with brass top to sit at, illuminated black metal and mirror shelves with liquor bottles and sparkling glasses line the bar back. The cut cross patterned floor is solid oak, the pattern reflected in the oak veneer of the tabletops. Assorted Thonet chairs and stools were custom painted to give a shadowed, camouflaged effect. The lighting is fun and disparate, a variety of bespoke fittings made especially for the new bistro. Brass fittings by Christopher Boots and hand glass blown spheres by Mark Douglass, another by Moooi.
The intimate upstairs continues the tradition of fine dining at Claude’s with a choice of a five- or eight-course degustation menu. The walls are
painted in neutral tones apart from the opposing corners that are slashed with bright colour to add sparkle to the room while retaining a subdued sophisticated ambience. The dark carpet coupled with filmy glittering drapes and the brass joinery add a plush element. The waiter’s station, large screen and stair balustrade also in brass bring a golden, luxurious feel. A touchstone to the past is included with the Napoleonic Limoges dinner service - a Claude’s heirloom - is displayed on the walls - arranged in conjunction with Chui. The contiguous bronze mirrors capture vignettes and enlarge the space allowing customers to view nearly the entire room and the evenings unfolding drama and entertainment.
The ‘Series 7’ chairs by Arne Jacobsen were reupholstered in jewel-coloured leather and a single whimsical Ingo Maurer feathered chandelier floats above the room. In contrast, the rest of the lighting is more architectural, including the adjustable ‘Sunny’ track lights and the gold recessed ‘Easy KAP’ downlights.
Extra touches were added to complete the restaurant’s refurbishment. Fashion designer Gary Bigeni was brought in to design the waiters’
The restaurant was designed to complement and enhance the food and wine offer, creating a new and exciting language, a dichotomy of ideas and experiences at Chui Lee Luk’s new look Claude’s.