There’s an old, faded sign affixed with defunct neon lettering, and an analogue clock mounted above Kew’s new all-day eatery. Things change slowly on High Street: the sign has been there since the ’50s.
For more than 60 years the site was home to Dawson’s, a family-owned whitegoods store that traded until 2014. Afterwards it became a pizza joint before closing about a year ago. When Tony Harika, local resident and owner of QPO – the 10-year-old, white-table-clothed Italian restaurant in Kew’s 138-year-old post office building – saw that the space was empty, he grabbed it.
Coming up with a name was easy, it was already on the sign.
“[Mr Dawson] was one of our first customers,” he says. “And we get customers coming in now saying they still have the iron or the fridge they bought from his shop.”
Dawson seats 150 in a slick but relaxed dining area with a long bar, a semi-open kitchen and high ceilings with light wells.
“I wanted something different to [QPO], something ultra-modern and fun,” says Harika.
Head chef Majid Jreige co-owns Dawson with Harika. The pair met at QPO, where Jreige worked as a chef for four years.
His menu hits various cuisines. Breakfast starts with the familiar, such as smashed avo and folded eggs with chilli. Come lunchtime hotcakes are switched out for pizzas (making use of the former pizzeria’s woodfired oven), paella, Asian-influenced salads and small plates to share.
Jreige’s favourites are at the top end of the menu, such as grilled octopus with salsa verde and chorizo crumb, and Szechuan-pepper calamari. He also points out a sticky, crisp pork belly glazed with a master stock that has been brewing for five months and counting.
“We just keep adding to it and the flavour keeps developing. After a few years it’s going to be amazing,” he says.
Dessert is sous chef Emily Wood’s domain. There are only three options, including a matcha panna cotta with raspberry parfait; tiny meringues; caramelised white chocolate; and fresh and freeze-dried berries. The dish took Wood four months to hone. “That one’s not going anywhere,” she says.
241 High Street, Kew
(03) 9852 8000
Mon to Sat 8am–10.30pm