By some definitions you could call Charlick’s – the restaurant under the Stag roof – fine dining. Chef Blake Drinkwater’s (ex-Orana, Noma and Dinner By Heston) artful and intricate dishes feature element upon element.
But Charlick’s is more friendly neighbourhood bistro than high-end restaurant. There are rustic homey dining tables and chairs, wooden chopping boards hanging from the wall and native blooms strewn about the place. In fact, it feels a little bit like your mum’s kitchen – if your mum had a killer natural-wine collection.
There’s a striking floor-to-ceiling wine rack crammed with minimal-intervention drops from small-batch Aussie-only producers. The walls are painted a bold burgundy. The floor’s covered with red-ochre porcelain tiling. The theme colour extends from the walls and floor to the ceiling and red-marble bartops. Look up for an Australian-bush-inspired installation – or “bird’s nest”.
Elements of the Australian landscape are on the plate, too; foraged beach mustard, picked at the beach near Drinkwater’s house, accompanies a beef short rib with anchovy, dill pickle and fermented leek gel. There’s also cured kingfish with pickled radish, buttermilk, horseradish and blood lime; and for dessert, a mille-feuille with crème patisserie, whipped cream, yoghurt powder and raspberry jam.
Pickled rose-petal water is used to make a rose-petal shrub with 78 Degrees gin. Another cocktail features duck render with Never Never gin, vermouth and bitters. The wine list leans natural but there are also typical, more traditional options. All of the wines are Australian and a lot are younger up-and-coming winemakers or smaller producers.