From the fitout to the food, everything about Apera is homegrown and intent on celebrating locality. Taking inspiration from Castlecrag's bush surrounds, Apera has combined light wood, leather and a mix of reclaimed materials to create a space that is warm, comfortable and made to feel like it has long been part of the community.
A much-needed space for Castlecrag locals to drop in for a drink, a casual meal or to celebrate a memorable milestone, Apera is also worth travelling to from all ends of Sydney.
The restaurant showcases Australia's best assets at every opportunity, and the tap beers alone are a choice selection from NSW's craftiest brewers — with everything from Young Henrys' subtle and hoppy Motorcycle Oil ($11) to Modus Operandi's citrusy Sonic Prayer new world IPA ($12).
On the cocktail front, local distilleries and smaller producers have been handpicked so that even the classic cocktails have a point of difference. Bar Manager Jordan Blackman's signature is the Apera negroni, made with house-made woodfired beetroot vermouth, Adelaide Hills bitter orange aperitif and sugar snap pea gin ($19). The Moonshine Collins, made with sweet tea moonshine, Queensland peach and smoked lemonade ($19) balances sweet and sour, and is the kind of cocktail you can enjoy with a meal, instead of as a top or tail to it.
Among the many other drops on the menu are handcrafted sodas from PS40, sheep's whey vodka from Hartshorn Distillery in Tasmania and amaro from Applewood Distillery. And when it comes to the wine list, the hard decisions have been made for you, with only a single option from each variety on offer.
While the menu is short, seasonal and ever-changing, that won't make narrowing down your choices any easier. To give yourself strength for the momentous task ahead, start with molluscs with samphire and a serve of grilled Berkelo rye to mop up the creamy 'njuda oil ($22), then slowly make your way through the deliciously gooey burrata with king brown mushrooms and a crunchy black garlic dusting ($19).
The big share plates hero ethically and sustainably sourced produce, and, for us, the choice comes down to two. Slow cooked in a woodfire oven, the Cowra pasture-fed lamb shoulder with snow pea tendrils and chimichurri will make you question why you ate lamb cooked any other way (half $34 & whole $64). And, even if you may not think you have room, the rotisserie-cooked porchetta with baked apple has a subtle richness and a hint of spice that you can't go past (small $26 & large $42).
Come dessert, don't think about to, just go for red gum-fired pear with lavender crumble, vanilla ice-cream and iron bark honey ($16).