The Hills' Wolfe & Co. took the sleepy, semi-rural suburb of Dural by storm when it opened on Old Northern Road last year. Locals quickly got all over the daytime cafe — probably because they'd normally have to drive 30 minutes to find something similar — but they soon they started requesting a place to spend their nights.
So, owners Che Vogel and Caroline Neill Ryan doubled down and bought another space across the road. And with the same swish attitude to food and design, they've opened the doors to their newest outfit: Cod's Gift.
The restaurant specialises in seafood with a focus on sustainable produce from the Hawkesbury River region, after the pair found that there were no seafood restaurants in The Hills.
With contrasted, Nordic-style furniture in turquoise, granite, brass and steel blue — all designed by Neill Ryan — it's a huge difference from the drab strip mall in which the restaurant is located. The duo were aiming to create a beautiful-yet-casual space for all. Luxe, but approachable.
David Koorey is executive chef for both Dural kitchens. His background is mainly UK restaurants and this influence can be seen in some of the menu's Japanese-fusion dishes. All are visually appealing, with sprinklings of microherbs and edible flowers (all greens are from a small, local grower within walking distance of the restaurant).
There are three kinds of oysters (the Hawkesbury River's famous export) and fish dishes push the boundaries of normal ingredient combinations. The John Dory comes with carrots, cumin, smoked peas and liquorice, and then there's the snapper with sage crumb, preserved lemon butter, lilliput capers and shaved fennel. For vegetarians, the eggplant dish with chard, burrata, torn pasta, sugo and olive dust proves vegetarians are not an afterthought.
Pair this with a cocktail or a wine from France, Italy or, much closer to home, the Hunter Valley.