Chef Clayton Wells has won over many a Chippendale foodie's heart since opening Automata on the ground floor of the Old Clare Hotel in 2015. And now he's set to extend his reach with the opening of a casual all-day eatery, just 20 metres away.
A1 Canteen will open on the ground floor of The Old Rum Store on Kensington Street on Wednesday, June 20 — the same building that houses Olio, Bistrot Gavroche and Eastside Kitchen. Whatever the time of day — and whatever the nature of your hunger — you'll be able to satisfy it. A1 will be open for brekkie, lunch, dinner and snacks, including pastries and sandwiches, so you can sit down and take your time or grab a tasty morsel and run.
"I've been working on a casual concept for a while now," Wells said. "We tested it out last year with auto.lab and we've been waiting for the right space to open something permanent. Finding a site directly across the road from Automata is a dream. A1 will be much simpler and more casual than Automata."
At breakfast, you'll find a takes on a ploughman's plate — with boiled egg, shaved ham, fermented cabbage and pickled chilli — a grilled mortadella and fried egg sanga, eggs benedict with blood cake and breakfast doughnuts (with mandarin curd and clotted cream, no less). The restaurant soft-opened over the weekend, and, if first reactions are anything to go by, the curried egg scramble with LP's sausage and english muffin is set to become the restaurant's most popular (or, at least, most Instagrammed) breakfast.
At lunch, Wells is catering to those who need to get in-and-out quick with an "easy, one plate situation". You'll be able to choose a protein — roasted lamb shoulder, hot smoked trout, spiced chicken or roasted celeriac — and pair it with two salads of your choice for $22. For those who prefer their lunches a bit carbier, there's also a lineup of sandwiches, ranging from a salted beef bagel, to a fried eggplant sandwich and a pressed baguette, which is Wells's take on a New Orleans muffaletta.
Return at night and you'll find a menu with slightly more similarities to sister-venue Automata. Split into small and large plates, a steamed clams with anchovy butter sit in the former and a black angus hanger steak with pine mushrooms in the latter. Drinks, as you'd expect, are equally impressive and extensive, with Single O coffee and cold-pressed juices in the morning, and batched cocktails, local beers, an interesting — and affordable — wine list available from lunch.
Wells will be joined by chef Scott Eddington in the kitchen, while in the role of restaurant manager will be Rachael Trewin, who's the current assistant manager at Automata. Meanwhile, Matt Darwon is overseeing the design. The fit-out is inspired by the Bauhaus movement of the late 20s, with cantilever chairs, cherry marble table tops and dark vinyl flooring filling the warehouse-style space.
Wells has just returned to Australia after spending some time in Singapore, where he opened Blackwattle, his first venture in Asia.
A1 Canteen will open on Wednesday, June 20, on the ground floor, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale.