The old Camperdown Bowling Club is now Sydney's new urban farm and eatery.
Sydney's Camperdown Commons — which encompasses Pocket City Farms and adjoining restaurant, Acre Eatery — has been the talk of the town in recent months. The stunning transformation of the dilapidated Camperdown Bowling Club into a full-blown urban farm and restaurant has turned the neglected space into a site for fresh organic produce and a farm-to-table eating. The restaurant's official opening was met with throngs of excited locals, but it wasn't until the farm's first harvest that we've really been able to see this partnership in action — and what a delicious partnership it is.
Acre is a gorgeous 350-seater, with beautiful wooden tables and Hamptons-style white chairs and booths. Every detail seems to have been meticulously chosen, from the signature wine glasses to the impeccably-presented table settings and dinnerware, which includes natural tree boards used as plates. The warm, bustling atmosphere is helped along by the incredibly professional and knowledgeable staff that also seem to have a personal stake in the restaurant's concept.
Since opening, the farm is growing rapidly and the harvest is being used readily in the restaurant, with about 20 percent of head chef Gareth Howard's menu grown on-premises. This includes the edible flowers used in the cocktails, as well as every ingredient in the green leaf salad ($8).
With the farm right outside, the menu, by necessity, is a truly seasonal one. The macadamia and cannellini ben hummus ($11) is nicely whipped and a light way to start, as is the wagyu bresaola ($18). Incredibly delicate, the thinly-sliced, well-cured meat has a citrusy touch that makes the dish stand out. The quality of the meat is undeniable and wholly due to the restaurant's partnership with local and ethical meat producers Vic's Meat Market. Another of these selections, the wagyu rump cap, is easily the best dish on the current menu ($34). The succulent, medium-rare meat is lightened by a Béarnaise made with herbs from the garden, while pickled mushrooms give the dish a vinegary zing. Pair with the oven-roasted Brussels sprouts ($9), which are topped with tahini and almonds that give the dish a winter richness.
On the drinks side of things, the cocktail menu is best described as imaginative. The ginger rhubarb margarita ($16) is an unusually strong and sweet combo, and the candied ginger rim adds another layer of creativity. The Earl Grey Bees Knees ($16) has fresh, clean flavours with a distinct creaminess from the egg yolk that is eased by the tea bitters. The home-grown theme is also kept consistent in the all-Australian wine list and with local craft brewers Young Henrys and Wayward Brewing on tap.
Each dish and drink at Acre is both elegant and well-executed, a promising start to what's set to be a long-game journey from the Camperdown Commons team.