Of all Sydney’s idyllic suburbs, the Shire is a sort of Shangri-La. Once you move there, you never want to leave.
None exemplify that better than Carl Jensen, a chef with an enormous following in the area, having owned restaurants there for three decades. There was Jensen’s (the original), Bella Costa, Naked Grape and most recently Summer Salt, a 200-seat venue so close to Cronulla Beach that if not for the glass in the picture windows, you might be hit with sea spray while eating lunch.
Carl has recently resurrected his first eatery in the quieter suburb of Kareela. “[He] has such a well-known name in the Sutherland Shire, I don’t think it would matter where he opened a restaurant. People would go to it,” says Brook Jensen, co-owner and Carl’s wife.
Carl has brought back his famous roast duck, a dish he’s been cooking for 30 years. The duck sits on a bed of broccolini and a nutty celeriac puree. Although Brooke describes the venue as relaxed, the presentation of this and all the dishes on the menu is elegant.
Besides the roast duck, the menu at Jensen’s changes regularly, sometimes weekly. “We’ve got customers who come once a week; we have to change it all the time,” says Brooke.
The John Dory fillets with carrot and ginger puree are delicious, and the pumpkin, feta and caramelised onion ravioli is the sort of vegetarian dish that can tempt a staunch meat eater.
The wine list focuses on Australian wines, many of them from the Southern Highlands, but the cocktails are the highlight. Le Noir, a mix of gin, Chambord, chocolate and grapefruit is dramatic, served in an opaque black glass.
The vast dining room seats 150 people. It features sandy and blue colours, and the space is split into pockets of seating by a white, Moroccan-inspired screen and hanging plants. The main dining room has tables, banquettes and semi-circle booths. The marble bar suits a casual meal of pizza with a glass of wine. No matter how cold it is, though, the glittering terrace with views of treetops as far as the eye can see is the best seat in the house.
Kareela Village, 1–13 Freya Street, Kareela
(02) 9582 8433
Tue & Fri 12pm–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm
Sat & Sun 12pm–3pm, 5.30pm–10.30pm