This bistro from former Rockpool chef Phil Wood pays homage to modern Australian cuisine and the storied past of its beautiful Paddington home.
December 01, 2021
A new Paddington venture has just opened from Phil Wood, the ex-executive Chef of Rockpool for eight years and previous culinary director of Mornington Peninsula's much-loved Pt. Leo Estate. Initially announced back in May, Wood's first independent restaurant Ursula's is named after one of his family members who lived in the suburb. The bistro showcases Wood's exciting approach to dining while centring staples of modern Australian cuisine.
Highlights from the menu include snapper, dressed with a Keen's Curry vinaigrette ($44) and margra lamb rump with brussels sprouts and mint sauce ($49) and fried Aphrodite halloumi ($30).
The beef carpaccio is another must-try on the menu ($29). The dish, served with makrut lime and parmesan, is a tribute to a beloved menu item from Darcy's, the famed Italian restaurant that occupied the site of Ursula's for nearly 40 years.
Sydney rock oysters ($6-8) and LP's smoked mortadella with crispy potato ($25) will easy you into the meal, while sweet selections like the strawberry and coconut flummery ($18) and golden syrup dumplings, served alongside a rum, raisin and malt cream ($20) light up the desserts menu.
The venue looks to honour Australian dining and the storied history of the building Ursula's occupies. 92 Hargrave Street has housed several other chefs throughout its lifetime. Originally built in the late 19th century as a house and shop, in its first half-century, it was run as a pub and a grocer. D'Arcy Glover was the first restaurateur to take up residency with a Swiss eatery in 1968 before Attilio Marinangeli and Aldo Zuzza took over in 1975 with the opening of Darcy's Restaurant.
The most recent restaurant to occupy the corner building was Guillaume Brahimi's flagship Sydney restaurant Guillaume. Brahimi made the dramatic move to Paddington in 2013 after running Guillaume out of the Sydney Opera House for over a decade. While the restaurant didn't last on Hargrave Street, Brahimi went on to take over fellow Paddington venue Four in the Hand and opened a Guillaume in the CBD.
"It is an honour to be opening in a building with such a strong dining history that goes back over 50 years. These corner sites dotted throughout Paddington are so special and part of what makes the suburb a vibrant part of Sydney's story," Wood said when the venue was first announced.
The restaurant is the work of Wood and his wife Lis Davies, and they'll soon be joined by John Laureti (Pt. Leo Estate, Rockpool) and Luke Cawsey (Saint Peter, Rockpool) in the kitchen, and restaurant manager Emily Towson (Fred's, Kepos & Co, Sixpenny). Inside the building, you'll find a classically fitted and welcoming dining space created in collaboration with Melbourne-based designer Brahman Perera.
"Lis and I are absolutely thrilled to finally share our little restaurant with our neighbours and Sydney," said Wood. "We can't wait to see people enjoying long lunches in the beautiful dining room, and families and friends celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and just the joy of once again being together."
Images: Nikki To