If there was ever a textbook example of how the dining scene is changing in Sydney, it’s Gastro Park. The widely acclaimed fine diner, once a bastion for the intricate and sort-of-scientific food that captured the world in the late ’00s, has closed. “To maintain a fine-dining restaurant, you need money, and I'm a single bandit, I don't have investors. In six years we probably shouldn’t have survived. It’s a rocky road,” says chef and owner Grant King.
Now the Potts Point site is home to King’s new venue, Antipodean Restaurant and Bar, an all-day venue serving what’s in vogue right now – simple, recognisable, European-led share plates.
King, sitting with a bowl of bush-coloured native fruits, a Gastro Park recipe book and his third coffee for the day, says he’s not sad. “I’m proud of what we did… but I’m fucking excited to move on.”
King is doing what a lot of well-known chefs are – dialling down the complexity and price and increasing the accessibility. What makes Antipodean’s version different is King will continue to experiment. The menu is full of the same creative touches recognisable from Gastro Park, albeit less visually surprising (he gained fame for crafting almost-liquid bulbs of butternut gnocchi and crackers out of fish scales and ink).
Fresh blood pudding (literally spiced blood fried in an egg ring to order) is served with quandong gravy and garnished in pickled shallots; house-made sourdough comes with an addictive and rich crab gravy; and for dessert there’s marigold ice-cream with torched mandarin. “I don’t know why people aren’t using this flavour. Marigold is amazing in sweets. I get them from nearby trees, there’s one outside my kid’s school.”
As you may have guessed from the name, the menu relies entirely on Australian or New Zealand produce. It’s even going to serve New Zealand muttonbird during the hunting season.
The same goes for the drinks list. “Everything is from here. We don’t even use Campari for our spritzes.” The offering is noticeably smaller, too. “The wine list was 22 pages, it's now one page. It's based on two styles: classic stuff and new, younger winemakers who are making things with fuck-all intervention.”
The restaurant’s fit-out has barely changed. The grey and black colour scheme remains, as does the floral centrepiece and the locally forged charcoal-coloured crockery. The major point of difference is a new long-table area for big brunches.
Of all the dishes King raves about, one stands out: his smoked duck with fermented ginger. “It's a fermented syrup of ginger and pumpkin poured over duck and smoked. It's fucking awesome, unbelievable,” says King. “We’re going to change the menu a lot, but this will stay on.”
In many ways, it’s exemplary of the brunch menu. While King is hoping to break the mould of what can be served in the morning, he’s different to the Instagram-led chefs using wacky colours and extravagant dishes to attract attention.
You’ll still find eggs here, but you have the option of enjoying them with wok-tossed abalone, white-bait fritters or broccoli and brown butter. There’s native pepper berry-cured salmon topped with finger lime and laid over heart of palm.
Coffee is from Gabriel, but for something punchier on a weekend morning, sit at the bar for a Margarita or a Bloody Morning.
Antipodean Restaurant and Bar
5–9 Roslyn Street, Potts Point
(02) 8068 1017
Mon to Fri 5pm–10pm
Sat 10am–3pm, 5pm–10pm
Sun 10am–3pm, 5pm–9pm