Wollongong's Keira Street dining strip will welcome the addition of a new restaurant with a French flavour within the next fortnight.
Chef Daniel Sherley, of Rookie, is opening a second restaurant within two weeks at the site of the former Cheeky Fig and Lorenzo's Diner.
Debutant will be themed around France's film and fashion in the 70's, with the fit-out expected to be completed within the next week.
"We want to create a different style to any other business in the area," Mr Sherley said.
He said the dining area will be a little larger than what Cheeky Fig had, with a good sized cocktail bar built into the new restaurant's floor plan.
The chef of 15 years said Debutant is different to both Rookie and Lorenzo's eatery.
"We have changed the entrance and layout inside. We are also putting in a charcoal oven.
"We are going for what we call a French bistro with a heavily orientated steak theme. You could maybe even call it a French steakhouse. It is a bit more casual. We want people to be able to come and have a main course. Steak Frites (steak and fries) is what we really want to specialise in".
Debutant will also have an emphasis on very tender dry, aged meat.
Mr Sherley invested considerable time researching the process and will take charge of it personally. Dry-aged meat has already been prepared for the opening and is on display in a large fridge clearly visible at the entrance as diners walk in.
"It will be our point of difference. This is what I have wanted to do for years. It is an emerging market".
Mr Sherley has a young family and said he waited until the time was right to open a second restaurant in Wollongong. He will be the executive chef at both and will have an experienced team in each kitchen. A dozen positions have been created and Chef Barry Pearson has been appointed at Debutant.
"We are going to open six days a week. It will be closed on Mondays. We will be doing lunch on Fridays. On the other days we are going to open at 4pm and run a short menu for those who want to come and have a few drinks after work. The bar menu will probably include a hamburger. I am really excited about cooking over charcoal".
Mr Sherley said it was a good time to open a new restaurant in Wollongong's dining strip.
"I have never seen so many cranes in Wollongong. And a lot of them are around here.
"There should be a lot of people living in this area very soon. This end of town already has some life in it and these development will hopefully bring more. And being next to my other restaurant Rookie with Juniper Gin Bar in between is very convenient," he said.
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