The Art Gallery of New South Wales certainly doesn’t lack for things to appreciate. But CHISWICK at the Gallery takes advantage of a stunning location, building and cultural center and adds to it a place to linger and debrief after a session of art appreciation. It’s a project that Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan, of Woolhara’s CHISWICK restaurant, have been tinkering with since moving into the cafe a few months ago. However this isn’t an import of one sensibility to another location; CHISWICK at the Gallery will have a slightly different style, with less farmhouse ease and more modern Scandinavian style, befitting the light and space of the gallery.
What does remain the same at the gallery location is a menu that evolves with the seasons to ensure fresh, peak-quality produce at any time of the year. With a menu divided into nibbles, small plates, mains and significant shareable platters – think slow-roasted lamb from the Moran family farm – there’s an emphasis on casual, communal dining. Currently the food takes on real elements of being by the ocean in summer, with plenty of seafood and spring vegetables; from oysters with native basil, to roasted otello tomatoes, fregola with warrigal greens and chilli.
With wines grouped by descriptions such as “perfumed and dry whites”, “fleshy and bold whites” and “poised and refined reds” there’s no mucking about. You choose your own adventure to pair your meal with.
The new food offering at the gallery signals a leap towards something a bit more specialised, which might turn a visit into an all-day excursion. “It’s one of the most beautiful buildings and the site for the restaurant looks over Wooloomooloo and the water is incredible,” says Moran about the realised potential for the site. “I’d love to see people come down town on a Sunday walk along the wharf, go for a swim at Andrew Boy Charlton and come and have something to eat.”
And maybe even go to the gallery?
“Well, you can even see some art while you’re here.”