As we inch closer to the opening of Australia’s first Ace Hotel on the edge of Sydney’s CBD, more news has been revealed about what we can expect from the $350 million, 264-room boutique hotel. The ultra-cool five-star accommodation is slated to open May 1 on Wentworth Avenue near Surry Hills.
The latest Ace news centres around its food and drinks venues – with involvement by two big-name Sydney people: genre-bending chef Mitch Orr, who co-founded seminal diner Acme, and Mike Bennie, who has been a leading force in shaping both Sydney’s and Australia’s dynamic drinks scene.
Orr has been appointed chef-partner of Ace’s flagship rooftop restaurant, Kiln. The 18th-floor venue will feature a glass-walled dining room with neighbourhood views, and two terraces with fully retractable ceilings. Its name is a homage to the site’s first life as a brick factory, Tyne House, which was built in 1916 and home to one of the first ceramic kilns.
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At Acme, Orr cemented his reputation as an inventive, no-rules chef melding flavours from Italy, Japan and Southeast Asia. He went on to work at Maurice Terzini’s Cicciabella and Pilu at Freshwater, before taking a break from head-chef duties. Kiln will open for dinners and weekend brunches.
Orr’s food will revolve around the kitchen’s wood-powered grill. Asked if we’re likely to see the type of rule-breaking pasta dishes he created for Acme, Orr tells Broadsheet Kiln’s menu won’t be a repeat of anything he’s done before.
“I’ve never wanted my cooking style to fit inside a neat little box,” he says. “I love taking inspiration from everywhere, be it fast food or fine dining. The fun comes when you start exploring how different flavours can change a dish – and this means you can truly cook with the seasons too, adding in what's best at each moment, rather than following a cuisine or dish to the letter.”
Ace has appointed interior designer Fiona Lynch to deck out Kiln. She's used local materials and recruited Aussie artisans to create a space we’re told will have muted earth tones and a look reminiscent of ’70s Australia.
Sydney’s Studio Henry Wilson is behind the lighting, and Melbourne’s Spacecraft Studio has made the linen drapes, which have been coloured with a pigment created from materials found during the excavation of the site.
“The vastness of the space prompted us to create multiple zones to allow for different experiences and moods throughout,” Lynch says in a statement. “From my first conversation with Atelier Ace, they very much wanted the Sydney property to feel local and to have a fully Australian context.”
Bennie has been brought on to curate the inaugural drinks menus at Kiln, the ground-level all-day eatery Loam (a sister location to the restaurant at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles), the lobby bar and coffee shop (which will be serving Mecca Coffee and draught wine). He’ll also be involved in any drinks-centric events Ace might hold. Like other Ace hotels around the globe, the lobby is a hub for hotel guests as much as locals, and will host an ongoing program of arts and culture.
The straight-talking, immensely knowledgeable Bennie is a driving force in Australia’s drink scene. The vision of the P&V co-owner and drinks writer (including an occasional Broadsheet contributor) – around sustainable agriculture and minimal-intervention wine production – continues to evolve what we pour in our glasses, as does his involvement in pioneering events such as the Drink Easy Awards and natural-wine festival Rootstock.
“I’m very privileged to have access to so many incredible producers, small runs of drinks and have made a commitment to unearthing new and exciting things that will form a part of the ever-changing menus at Ace Hotel Sydney,” Bennie says in a statement.
This is Ace’s first hotel in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s the first commercial development for the Golden Age Group. Melbourne-based Flack Studio are responsible for the interior design of everywhere else except Kiln, and are using the history of nearby Surry Hills as inspiration for its look and feel. There’ll be textural straw walls in the guest rooms, tactile window seats and a striking ochre-red concrete staircase in its lobby.
Ace Hotel Sydney will be at 49–53 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney. Rooms start from $359 (high season). Reservations are open for May 1, 2022 onwards.