When you’re a pastry chef, Easter is truly your time to shine – especially if you’re also a professionally trained chocolatier, like The Charles’ multi-talented head pastry chef Rhiann Mead. This is one of her favourite times of year. It’s a prime opportunity for her to flaunt her chocolate-working skills, learnt during an apprenticeship at prestigious London chocolatier William Curley.

“In my first week I was shown how to create a chocolate flower – something that was well beyond my skill level at that time and something I’ll never forget,” says Mead, who further honed her skills crafting decorations, petits fours and chocolate bars at Sydney fine diners Bennelong and Quay. “The head chocolatier, Alistair Birt, invested so much time in teaching things, from the most simple decorations to a technical chocolate sculpture.”

And this fantastically chocolate-heavy time of year is the perfect time for Mead to put those technical and artistic skills in the spotlight. For The Charles’ first Easter she’s designed mini chocolate eggs to create an elegant, adult-friendly version of the Easter egg hunt. Salted muscovado caramel is encased in a 64% dark chocolate shell, flecked with gold leaf, then wrapped in colourful foil to “really spark that childhood nostalgia”, she says.

The opulence of The Charles’ dining room, which evokes the old-world glamour of Europe’s finest restaurants, is mirrored in a collection of larger, hollow eggs.

They begin with cocoa butter shells coloured with the light pinks and burgundies that are The Charles’ hallmark, as well as a gold lustre combined with cocoa for a gold-speckled effect. Depending on which egg you select, it will be lined with either a 40% milk or a 66% dark chocolate, combined with a beautifully textural crunchy praline mix.

The extra-special finishing touch on both eggs? A smattering of gold leaf, adding some extra Easter sparkle.

And unlike your ordinary mass-produced Easter eggs, every single creation served at The Charles is hand-tempered, decorated and finished – a practice of patience, and demonstrating a deep understanding of science and flavour. (Not to mention, working with chocolate in Australia can be a difficult undertaking, thanks to our warm and humid climate.)

The Charles’ signature dessert trolley will also be getting the Easter treatment, with Mead adding classics such as simnel cake – a fruitcake widely eaten this time of year in Britain that’s popping with marzipan, and with extra marzipan balls on top representing 11 disciples (minus Judas). And, now it’s an acceptable time of year to start eating hot cross buns, there’ll also be a hot cross bun gelato on the specials list in the lead up to the big weekend.

Keen on sampling Mead’s chocolate skills beyond Easter? You’ll find her cocoa-crafting handiwork on The Charles’ menus and dessert trolley year-round. A black forest cake on the bistro menu is a chocolate-lover’s dream, with three types of couverture chocolate, as well as cocoa nibs and cacao powder. And on the roaming dessert trolley you’re sure to find deftly crafted moulded chocolates, hand-dipped rochers and moreish chocolate bars.

The Charles Easter Eggs are available on the Dessert Trolley from Monday 27th of March – Sunday 9th of April. The Charles is open for Lunch and Dinner on Easter Saturday & Easter Sunday.

Indulge in a spot of luxury at The Charles Brasserie Afternoon Tea.

After a long day trawling Pitt Street, finish your day in the luxurious surrounds of The Charles Grand Brasserie as you sip on a glass of Moet and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.    

 The Charles offers guests an exclusive afternoon tea experience with a selection of Savoury and Sweets carefully crafted by our experienced pastry team, this is an Afternoon Tea experience that you won’t soon forget.  

 This experience is $99pp and includes a glass of Moet, curated menu of savoury & sweets and flowing tea and coffee.  

 To book your Afternoon Tea at The Charles, please follow the link below or call our reservations team on 9145 8066.  

 Afternoon Tea is available from Monday-Saturday, from 12pm-5pm, in the Brasserie Mezzanine.  We require 24 hours’ notice for all dietary requirements and will do our best to accommodate all requests.  

Afternoon Tea Menu

World Pride has come to Sydney for a monumental celebration of all things Pride!
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras, the 50th anniversary of the first Pride Week and the 5th anniversary of Marriage equality in Australia.   


From the 20th of February – 5th of March, The Charles will donate $2 from the sale of, our take on, the classic Charlotte Royale to the LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, which delivers several programs to help LGBTIQ+ people manage their health and access inclusive health services.   


Our Charlotte Royale is made with chamomile infused sponge, fig jam, a honey and chamomile mousseline and fresh blackberries. It is then finished with a rainbow pride buttercream. 


To donate, simply order a slice of Pride on your next visit to The Charles and we will donate the the total sum to our chosen charity at the end of World Pride.    


Book Now


Every Monday to Friday from 3pm to 6pm, we invite you to join us at The Charles Bar for The Charles Hours. Grab friends or colleagues and bring them down to The Charles Bar to enjoy a Southside cocktail at $12, a glass of Moet & Chandon at $15, and wash your drink down with $10 Mini Prawn Cocktail. Simply sit back, relax and unwind with drinks and small bites after a busy day. We’ll love to see you soon at The Charles bar.

On The Pass Interview as it appeared in Gourmet Traveller Magazine December 2022

How did you get your start as a pastry chef? I didn’t really mean to get into
baking. I worked at Harrods Food Halls in London during my gap year before
starting physiotherapy at university. While I was there I saw all of the amazing
pastry creations and chocolates on display and I knew I needed to learn more.
I met one of the pastry chefs there and started hassling him everyday until he
agreed to let me do an apprenticeship with him.

What’s been the highlight of becoming head pastry chef at The Charles?
Curating the dessert trolley has been so fun. It was really exciting to have an
opportunity to do a la carte service as well as a trolley, because I feel like as
a pastry chef, you’re usually doing one of two things: either production for
a trolley or display, or service. At The Charles, I have the opportunity to do both.

You’ve created a magnificent dessert menu at The Charles. How do you
decide which pastries to feature? The Charles is a grand European brasserie,
so I’ve done a lot of research on out-of-the-ordinary Eastern European desserts
from places like Poland or Russia.

Finally, what is your favourite thing to bake at home? At home I love making
things like dougnuts, croissants, or puff pastry. Things that have a particular
formula or process. It can be so therapeutic and soothing to create a dessert
with so many layers.

The Charles, thecharles.sydney

Our Director of Bars, Jonothan Carr takes us behind The Charles Bar which will be a destination for all-day beverages, from morning coffees to afternoon tipples with colleagues, and the perfect spot for a pre or post-cocktail when dining in the Grand Brasserie. The beverages menu will deliver classics that guests know and love with the highest level of polish and a few new favourites.

The Martini is a beverage synonymous with style and will be a focus of The Charles cocktail list. Arguably the world’s most recognised beverage partly due to Mr Bond (we prefer stirred if you were wondering), The Charles Bar will serve our Martini in a vessel not yet seen in Sydney. We are looking forward to sharing it with you!

Like most classic cocktails, its origins are a mystery though it is commonly believed to have evolved from a Martinez cocktail created during the gold rush in America. The Martini, as we know it, was first listed in Harry Johnson Bartenders Manual in 1888 featuring the ingredients Old Tom Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Curacao and Boker’s Bitters.

A far cry from the Dry Gin and Vodka Martinis currently in vogue, as palates have changed over the years, so too has the Martini. Old Tom Gin, a sweetened gin, has moved aside in favour of the London Dry style and a Dry Martini ruled from the early 1900s until vodka made its way out of Russia in the late 50s. The “Three Martini Lunch” shown on popular shows such as Mad Men harks back to a time when such things were less regulated as vodka didn’t show up on the breath of the ad men after long “business lunches”.

The Eighties did not do the classic Martini any favours, as the name Martini ended up being associated with all sorts of drinks, many which were bright and full of sugar. This changed during the classic cocktail revolution of the 2000’s, where Bartenders returned to the old cocktail books and revived the Martinez and Dry Gin Martini’s. Along the way olives became popular as an addition. The Dirty Martini is now ordered almost as much as a Dry Martini, showing that stirred-down solid drinks are genuinely back, and being enjoyed in classy environments such as The Charles Bar. We look forward to serving you soon at The Charles Bar.


Matini pouring

Salmon en papillote, boeuf bourguignon, potatoes dauphinoise, bouillabaisse, duck pâté en croute – all synonymous with French cuisine. Although, none are quite as extravagant or spectacular as the classic French dish ‘canard à la presse’ – or pressed roasted duck.

A partially roasted duck is put into a heavy press to extract the blood and bone marrow. The juices are used to create a rich sauce that’s served with the breast and legs. Traditionally, the sauce is enriched with the duck’s ground liver, butter and Cognac.

Its origins date back to Paris in the 1800s and the best known is legendary restaurant La Tour d’ Argent where the dish is a signature and each duck since 1890 is numbered. Apparently, Charlie Chaplin ate duck 253,652; 112,151 went to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and Edward VII was served number 328 while still Prince of Wales.

The duck press itself is a large metal press on two or four, often webbed, heavy feet to keep it stable. A spout low down allows the liquid to be collected easily as the duck carcass is slowly pressed. They don’t come cheap – in 2016, a silver-plated press from Tour d’Argent fetched $65,000 while Anthony Bourdain’s personal duck press sold for $52,000.

While French cuisine has long celebrated old-fashioned cooking tools and methods and a focus on things that take time, culinary destinations across the world are embracing this approach once again. Duck press can be found in the kitchens of some of the world’s most exclusive Michelin-starred venues, from New York’s Daniel and Orchard Park restaurants to Marcel’s in Washington DC and Marchal in Copenhagen’s Hotel d’Angleterre.

Now, Sydney’s elegant, European-style grand brasserie and bar, The Charles, is honouring this French classic.

The hallmark of a European brasserie is the house specialty,” explains Sebastien Lutaud, Director of Culinary. “At The Charles, ours is the ‘Canard à la Presse’, or whole dry-aged Maremma roasted and pressed duck. It takes around two weeks to make each dish, but it’s nothing short of splendid to eat.”

At The Charles, preparing the duck and glazing it with Valhrona Oabika (concentrated cocoa fruit juice) takes almost a day, then each duck is dry-aged for around 10 days in a custom-built room in the kitchen. Once ready, it’s quickly roasted at a very high heat to achieve caramelisation, crispy skin perfection and juicy meat.

The beautifully presented whole roast duck is carried to the diner’s table to showcase the duck before it is carved. Back in the kitchen, the duck breasts and legs are removed and the carcass cut in half lengthways. On the open kitchen pass, two extravagant copper-plated duck press take pride of place to create the superb sauce for this delightfully crispy roasted duck dish. The carcass is packed into the press and slowly compacted, resulting in an incredibly flavoursome liquid. To thicken, The Charles team stray a little from tradition and instead combine the liquid with a roast chicken jus gras. It’s sweetened with Pedro Ximenez and reduced to create this distinctly duck sauce.

Once plated, the finale takes place at the table, where the exquisite duck sauce is gently poured over the sliced and perfectly arranged duck breasts, served with tender confit duck legs.

It certainly takes patience, but it’s no secret that some of the best and most delicious flavours take the longest to create,” reflects classically French-trained Executive Chef of The Charles, Billy Hannigan (Loulou Bistro; The Ledbury; Guillaume at Bennelong). “In its simplest form, we’re creating a roast duck sauce. It just this one is anything but simple.”

Our tip: do yourself a favour and try the duck.

Champagne is a symbol of joy and celebration and without doubt one of my favourite wine regions in the world!

When I select Champagne for wine menus, I always think about the style that I would like to taste, from fresher and elegant Blanc de Blancs from 100% Chardonnay to a richer and structured style such as a Blancs de Noirs of 100% Pinot Noir or a true classic of the region, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. One of my favourite vintages so far is 2008, showcasing finesse and elegance, beautifully balanced with a long ageing potential, alongside my other picks 2002 and 2012.

The Champagne region has a terroir that is predominant chalk, the same soil of the famous excavated cellars called ‘Crayere’. The climate is predominantly cool as the region is close enough to the sea to share its Atlantic climate and its continental tendencies assists the ripening of the grapes even though it is far from equator.

Champagne has some of the most expensive vineyards in the world, but only 10% belong to the large exporting houses responsible for the worldwide reputation of Champagne.There are also more and more single growers each year which has almost doubled since 2010. These single growers are making and selling wine produced from their own grapes, rather than selling grapes to the Champagne ‘houses’ for their blends.

Champagne has three main regions North to South starting with Montagne de Reims with its nine Grand Cru villages. which include the prestigious villages of Bouzy, Verzy and Verzenay; the Vallee de la Marne region in the centre with its two Grand Cru Villages Ay and Tour Sur Marne; and the elegant Côte des Blancs region with its six Grand Cru including the highly respected Cramant, Avize and le Mesnil sur Oger, extending towards the south with Côte des Sezanne and Côte des Bars.

There are 3 main grapes that are used to produce Champagne: Chardonnay (Côte des Blancs), Pinot Noir (Montagne de Reims) and Pinot Meunier (Vale de Marne). The first fermentation produces a base wine up to 10% of alcohol, later with the addition of sugar, yeast, and a mixture of wine, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle raising alcohol to 12% and giving off carbon dioxide that remain dissolved in the wine. The main difference between Champagne brands is the method of making the dry base wine, which it’s called Cuvee. Another important factor is the amount of time that the producers leave the wine on lees during the second fermentation in the bottle – the longer the better.

At The Charles Grand Brasserie, we have developed a selective list of Champagnes from many different producers of Champagne including the most renowned houses in the world, to the rarest single growers. We can’t wait to share our passion for this region and make every guests experience memorable, à votre santé!