Amaru isn’t about labels. Beyond “modern Australian”, chef and debut restaurateur Clinton McIver resists putting a label to his Armadale restaurant. It is modern Australian, and it’s a blend of many, many different cuisines that are borrowed from all different regions.
It’s the first solo venture for the former Vue de Monde sous chef. With only 34 seats, McIver’s focus is on simple hospitality. The small space is sleek and intimate. The fit-out is thoughtful and minimal. Tables are custom designed by Ross Didier. The walls feature a faintly textural micro-cement rendering. The floor is stained and polished concrete. Shelving, bars and waiter stations are built from dark timber reclaimed from a Melbourne brick factory that burnt down years ago.
The focus is on the degustation-only menu. An example of this is crisp potatoes seasoned in seaweed and vinegar powder, served with blue swimmer crab, compressed plum and frozen macadamia milk. There’s a petite dumpling of roasted Flinders Island wallaby tail brushed in saltbush butter; an heirloom tomato stewed in a rich marron and muntry-berry broth; and a dry-aged game duck with barbeque radicchio, Davidson Plum gel and burnt apples.
Wine is uncomplicated, with a list of about 100 Australian, French and Italian vignerons.