One of Simon Kardachi’s greatest strengths is his ability to move with the times; to “twist, tweak, reinvent, recreate” and adapt to the market. It’s “a process of refinement, constantly,” he told Broadsheet in March. It should come as no surprise, then, that his first restaurant, The Pot Food & Wine, is getting its second revamp. Formerly The Melting Pot, the venue opened in 1999 before a casual rebrand in 2008. Now, another nine years later, it enters its third chapter with some exciting names on board.
Emma McCaskill (ex–Magill Estate, Tetsuya’s) takes over the pans this week, replacing chef Ben Fenwick and introducing a new menu over the next few days. French and South-East Asian fusion will make way for “simple, delicious food” that “draws on different cuisines”, inspired by McCaskill’s time in international and Australian kitchens.
She’ll employ the skill and techniques demonstrated at Magill Estate, combined with “approachable”, down-to-earth comforts of casual dining. “It’s simple food, but there’s still a lot of process behind it,” McCaskill says. “I’m really letting the ingredients speak for themselves.”
Expect delicate but accessible menu items such as smoked eel and creme fraiche rillette with pickled beetroot on toast; steamed pork buns seasoned with coriander root, garlic and ginger and fried to order; and childhood classic, Vienetta, made with vanilla parfait, tempered dark chocolate and salted caramel.
The weekend’s breakfast trade will remain, with the introduction of dishes such as brioche with roasted, pulled-pork shoulder, pickled cabbage and pickled cucumber; a breakfast salad with buckwheat, greens and labne; and fresh bialy (a bagel that’s not boiled) with chicken, almond hummus, dill and mint. Traditionalists aren’t forgotten, either: “You have to have a big breakfast,” McCaskill says.
The acclaimed chef left Magill Estate (where she worked with husband Scott Huggins) in January to start her own venture, but after looking at dozens of venues, “nothing felt right,” she says. A mentor suggested finding a “good operator” and working with them. “It happened to be that Simon was looking for someone at The Pot, and The Pot was actually very similar to what I was looking for myself, in terms of size and style. It’s not casual, it’s not fine dining – it’s just really beautiful food and service without formality. It all came together very quickly.”