Woodcut is a sprawling 260-seat venue operated by Sunny Lusted and her husband, executive chef Ross Lusted. The couple's lauded CBD fine diner, The Bridge Room, closed in April 2019. The menu at Woodcut is dazzlingly extensive; choosing from it is no easy feat.
The menu isn’t split into entrées, mains and desserts. Instead, it highlights the cooking methods used in the four open kitchens stationed around the huge space: steam, fire, smoke and ice (aka the raw bar). The kitchens offer a theatrical experience for diners, no matter where they’re seated, and creates de facto dining areas, making the vast space on the ground floor of Crown Sydney seem intimate and warm.
In the steam kitchen, delicate pipis are cooked in steam kettles, flavoured with vadouvan (an Indian curry blend) and served with roasted chickpeas and chickpea leaves. Smoky Wagyu skewers are cooked over the intense heat of a robata grill.
Piles of caviar and Yarra Valley trout roe, raw kingfish with lychee and grilled ginger, and grilled raw beef with salted duck egg and radish are served from the seafood kitchen. Swordfish and a 270-day-aged one-kilogram Black Market T-bone are cooked on the wood grill.
The desserts here riff on seasonal ingredients – in the summer months you might be served a quenelle of cherry sorbet atop a delicate meringue wreathed in the last of the summer’s cherries. Or a crisp dark-chocolate tart shell might encase a pistachio sorbet and blood-plum jam.
The 22-page wine and cocktail menu is split into chapters, starting with cocktails, beers and non-alcoholic drinks, followed by wines offered via the Coravin system, highlighted producers and by-the-bottle drops, finishing with spirits.
A huge amount of effort has gone into the restaurant’s design. And with many elements echoing the Lusteds’ international travels, this is a venue with world-leading ambitions. The entrance’s high, straight walls evoke the sheer-sided canyons of Utah. The shining steam kettles have been custom-made and imported from Vancouver, Canada. And the geometric black blocked ceiling tiles are inspired by the Giant’s Causeway geological formations in Northern Ireland.