The fire at the restaurant’s original location broke out on the morning of September 11, causing severe damage. Owners Al and Rebecca Yazbek are currently overseeing a rebuild to restore and upgrade the space.
The temporary Nomad will accommodate 140 guests, with kitchen-counter seating, large group tables and a private dining area for up to 24 people. Regulars will notice familiar touches, with the distinctive artwork and furniture from the original location making the move into the new space.
It won’t be entirely the same, but head chef Jacqui Challinor says they’re just happy to bring a bit of the restaurant back to people.
“It’s great to have a new home, even just temporarily,” she tells Broadsheet. “It’s definitely different, but it’s also an exciting challenge. I’m looking forward to it.”
Challinor is developing a new menu, this time with smaller shared plates and new dishes. Unfortunately she won’t have a woodfire oven or flame-grill on this site, as she did at the original Nomad kitchen.
“Losing those was a bit of a hit. That’s how I love to cook, so it’s a shame to not have them. We’re reworking what we have to accommodate that,” she says.
There’ll be two or three larger mains complementing the smaller plates. Some dishes from the original menu will be available, such as the house-made cannellini-bean hummus, kingfish ceviche and duck mortadella.
But don’t expect to see any versions of the restaurant’s woodfired hits. Challinor would rather replace them with entirely new dishes than adapt them without the fire element.
“I don’t want to put up a version of a dish that … doesn’t have the same charm to it as the original,” she says. “But nothing’s changing about the heart of our food. Just because we don’t have a fire doesn’t mean the way I view food has changed.”
The idea of relocating to the Commonwealth Street space – just a stone’s throw from the original on Foster Street – came from Orana’s Jock Zonfrillo. He and Challinor were having drinks before his own residency ended. “He just turned to me and said they were leaving the following week, why don’t we take it?” she recalls.
Zonfrillo isn’t the only hospitality heavyweight to support the Nomad team following the devastating fire.
“My phone was buzzing off the hook as soon as news got out,” says Challinor. “The guys from Icebergs, Jock, Lennox [Hastie] from Firedoor … Everybody has been phenomenal with us, just incredibly supportive.”
Nomad Up the Road will be at 85 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills from November 1. It will be open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday.