Farm-to-table dining is not a new concept, but few venues in Sydney have embraced it as wholly as Acre Eatery. The former Camperdown Bowling Club is now Camperdown Commons, a community hub with a 100-square-metre urban farm and 200 square metres of edible garden. At the centre of it is Acre Eatery, a 350-capacity venue with a bar; terrace (breakfast is served here on weekends); a shipping container where you can get a spiced-orchard muffin and a brew from Marrickville’s Blind Roaster to go; and a sit-down restaurant. There’s even a dedicated outdoor kids area. Luke Heard and John Tully are behind it; the pair previously worked on The Greens North Sydney together.
Pocket City Farm runs the farm and market garden and hosts everything from permaculture classes to yoga in the common room. While planting is yet to finish, the first harvest is yielding plenty of native edible flowers and herbs. They feature in the cocktails and the Acre garden salad, a hearty mix of fresh and roasted vegetables, grains, herbs, seeds and dried fruits. It’s simple but full of flavour.
The focus on provenance is obvious from the menu. Head chef Gareth Howard (Jamie’s Italian) favours secondary meat cuts from NSW farmers including lamb from Titania in Oberon and beef from Anthony Puharich of Vic’s Meats. Jules Crocker from Joto Fresh Fish supplies sustainable fish.
“We’re putting a little more time and effort into it like you would in a farmer’s house; they’ll never be using prime cuts of meat but more the tastier stuff that takes longer,” Howard says. “They’d put dinner in the oven before going out on the farm all day. We’ve done that sort of thing with our lamb pie and braised beef cheeks with raisins, chocolate and oxtail.”
Acre’s design aesthetic isn’t as green as you might expect, but it was a conscious move. “It would’ve been really obvious to try and bring the green element into the restaurant,” Heard says. Pony Design Co has favoured monotone linen banquets, natural timbers and stoneware to create warmth and shrink the large space down. Large bi-folding windows remind you of your surrounds; it doesn’t feel like you’re in the centre of Sydney as you peek out to orderly rows of crops and a wheelbarrow casually abandoned in the corner. The wine list has a 98 per cent Australian and New Zealander slant – with two on tap – and a couple of biodynamic and organic options.
31a Mallett Street, Camperdown
Sat & Sun 7am–12pm
Wed to Sun 12pm–3pm
Wed to Sat 5pm–10pm
Mon to Thu 12pm–3pm, 5pm–10pm
Fri to Sun 8am–3pm, 5pm–10pm