Sydney will become another star in British chef Jason Atherton's culinary constellation; Kensington Street Social opens today in The Old Clare Hotel. Yep, just when you thought Chippendale's snazziest destination couldn't fit in another eatery, the hotel has managed to loosen its belt for one, final mouthful.
The Social is the third venue to open at The Old Clare, and keeps the esteemed company of degustation extraordinaire Automata and Silvereye's deluxe open-plan kitchen. Of the three, it's the biggest (with 120 seats) and the most casual. An all-day menu invites diners to eat any way they like, whether they're after a snack and a matching cocktail or a mega, multi-course feast with premium wines.
Atherton, who has a Michelin star to his name, is acting as culinary director, with Rob Daniels (ex-Maze London) taking on the role of executive chef. Between them, they've come up with an ever-changing array of share plates, influenced by British and Mediterranean flavours and to the availability of quality produce. Samples on the opening menu include 'English breakfast tea and toast' (read: wild mushroom tea served in a teapot with relish and bone marrow toast), sea urchin risotto with Moreton Bay bug tail, and Zokoko alto beni chocolate soufflé with macadamia ice cream.
Meanwhile turophiles (aka cheese piggies) will be over the moon. Atherton is promising a stack of tasty, cheese-focused morsels, such as Holy Goat La Lunagoats' cheese, served with pickled fennel, bitter orange jam and cress. And breakfast will keep health-nuts happy, with dishes like organic seed and grain oatmeal porridge with pineapple, chilli and mint, and a lightly smoked flathead baked omelette with bacon and spring onion.
Drinks have been planned by the man taking care of them everywhere else in The Old Clare, Matt Fairhurst, who’s been working with Atherton for years at City Social, London. He's been busying imagining, mixing and testing signature cocktails for every venue in the hotel. Kensington Street Social-ers can prepare themselves for the Fruit Looped Cereal Killer (vodka, Fruit Loop milk, apricot and Aperol served in a milk carton) and the Kahuna Colada (pineapple rum and Batch Brewing's coconut brown ale), which is already served in The Clare Bar.
"I'm so excited to be opening my first restaurant in Sydney," says Atherton. "I'm all about sourcing the best produce, and here the ingredients are just incredible – Australian black truffles, the seafood – so I'm looking forward to using them to reinterpret a few of the signature dishes from my London restaurants."
"I’ve had many Australian chefs in my brigade over the years, including my executive chef Rob and pastry chef Adrian Crabb, so it seemed like a natural step to come to Sydney and get the team back together."
Shanghai's Neri & Hu came up with restaurant's design and Matt Darwon made it happen. It's a split-level affair with a feel that's contemporary, while still acknowledging the building's history as the long-time home of Carlton United Brewery.
Kensington Street Social is open The Old Clare Hotel from Wednesday, January 13. For more information, head to their website.