One of Sydney's best restaurants, Marque, is closing

Chef Mark Best.

Former three hat restaurant Marque in Sydney’s trendy Surry Hills is closing after 17 years.

Chef and owner Mark Best says he’s decided it’s time for change.

“It is of course with mixed emotions that I have made this decision, however it seems sensible, timely and prudent to do so. The personal investment in a small business takes its toll, and it’s with a combination of a sense of loss, pride and relief that I bring this phase of my career to a close,” he said in a statement.

Best says his partners in Pei Modern in Melbourne and at The Four Seasons in Sydney “will be pleased to have my full attention as each establishment goes under a significant refurbishment later this year”.

Marque was named the 2010 “breakthrough restaurant” in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and currently sits at 16 on the Australian Gourmet Traveller top 100, and named it restaurant of the year in 2012.

The Good Food Guide first gave Marque 3 hats in 2004, but two years ago, the restaurant was dropped to two hats. He was named the guide’s chef of the year in 2009.

Best’s most famous dishes at the restaurant include the chaud-froid of egg, an amuse bouche borrowed from L’Arpege in Paris; and caramelised tomato stuffed with 12 flavours. His “risotto” of calamari and prawns contained no rice, just tiny grains of calamari with prawn foam.

The closure of Marque heralds the end for one of the last great bastions of fine dining in the city in an era where eating out is increasingly more casual, fast-paced and lacking the traditional refinement that Best’s padded tables of crisp white linen, impeccably dressed staff and a degustation menu championed.

Its loss leaves the city with just a handful of critically acclaimed, French-influenced fine dining restaurants, including Tetsuya’s, Rockpool, Quay and est.

Marque was always an escape from the noise and bustle of Crown Street, where Best explored contemporary French cuisine in enthralling, mesmerising and intriguing dishes that also captured his dry sense of humour.

While the restaurant’s 8 course tasting menu is $165, Best also offers the city’s best fine dining bargain – a 3-course Friday lunch for just $49.

Best, an electrician in Kalgoorlie before turning his hand to cooking, says “Marque has achieved far more than I ever envisioned opening a ‘small bistro’ in 1999. It was fairly evident from the start it was never going to be just that”.

He says the restaurant’s proudest legacy will be the young people who worked there and went on to become leading chefs in their own right, including Brent Savage, Dan Hong, Daniel Puskas, Karl Firla and Pasi Petänen.

He’ll call last orders at the end of the financial year, with an alumni dinner on Thursday, June 30.

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