“When the site came up it was perfect. I felt the people around here would be interested in the style of food, drinks and service that we are looking to provide. Knowing that we're going to be a neighbourhood restaurant, I didn't want any pretentiousness or silver-service bullshit.”
Christian Blair, former bartender at Rockpool Bar & Grill, and before that, manager at Eau De Vie, will put this pedigree to use in Crows Nest, where he’s opening Annata, a modern Australian restaurant with a strong focus on wine and cocktails.
Initially, Annata was conceived as a bar, but fate (or council by-laws) had other plans. “It was going to be a bar with just enough food so people didn't have to leave for dinner,” he says. “But the license dictated that the space was to be used for a restaurant. By that stage I had my heart set on the location and what we could do with the place, so we started our hunt for a head chef.”
That hunt lead to Jimmy Richardson, who has spent time in the kitchens of Altitude, the Bridge Room and Cafe Paci. Richardson has been given a brief to create a menu of modern Australian share plates. Seasonal produce will be at the forefront, with the menu to change every six weeks.
With the help of his many sommelier friends, Blair hopes to offer a lengthy and thoughtful wine list. “It will be much-loved Australian styles peppered with a few weird and funky selections from here and overseas.” Cocktails will also be a focus, with an emphasis on bold flavours and the use of fresh produce. “We'll have light and dry flavours for before and during meals, and a few rich and spicy drinks for after. Stripped back, simple, and well thought-out drinks.”
Annata will open in late October at 69 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest.