Our heartstrings have been tugged a lot lately with announcements that some of our favourite venues are closing. But, it’s given us fresh reasons to visit them one last – or several – times. Book now or forever regret missing out.
When Rushcutters Bay diner ACME announced its closure last week, many in Sydney went into panic mode, wondering where they’d get Mitch Orr’s pig’s head and egg yolk macaroni now. The restaurant’s clever menu won over the city when it opened five years ago mixing Italian cuisine with the Asian flavours Orr grew up with. It was an unpretentious take on refined dining, serving innovative dishes in a really fun setting. Orr has created hundreds of dishes since opening and plans to bring back some of the restaurant’s greatest hits during his last few weeks of service.
The Fish Shop
“The Fish Shop will always be Jeremy Strode,” Dan Hong told Broadsheet earlier this week. “When Strodey took over he was doing great things. That is the legacy of The Fish Shop. Since he left, it’s been different.”
Strode, The Fish Shop’s founding chef, passed away in 2017 leaving behind two great restaurants: Bistrode CBD and The Fish Shop, both owned by the hospitality group Merivale.
Sadly, The Fish Shop will close on June 16 following Merivale’s sale of the building it’s in.
What made the fresh seafood diner good was it avoided overfished and endangered fish, instead opting for little-used species. It served fish and chips and dim sum, like any good chippie, but with organic and biodynamic wine instead of cans of Solo and Coke.
But it’s not all bad news. Opening in its place will be Lotus, which pioneered the back-room drinking scene Sydney has since adopted with vigour. The restaurant was in the building before The Fish Shop, and was Dan Hong’s (Ms G’s, Mr Wong) first stint as head chef. He’ll be heading up Lotus 2.0 when it opens in spring, reviving a lot of the dishes he built his reputation on.
Also closing in mid-June will be Cake Wines, which recently announced it won’t be renewing its lease. The urban cellar door (it makes its wines in the Adelaide Hills) was more than a winery; it was an events space with good vino and excellent food. It hosted regular parties (which it says it will continue to do) and gave a big thumbs-up to dancing. To go out with a bang, it’s hosting four massive, free events in its final two weeks, bringing jazz musos, DJs and techno producers to its stage for some massive final ragers.
After almost 20 years of service, seminal Surry Hills Thai diner Longrain announced last month it was shutting. Like Cake Wines, owner Sam Christie decided not to renew the lease, meaning it’ll be last service on June 30.
When it opened in 1999, Longrain elevated Sydney’s Thai food scene, and pioneered herbaceous, fruity, muddled cocktails. It’s since spawned offshoots in Melbourne and Tokyo, so fans will still be able to get their fix.
Christie says just because it’s closing down in its current iteration doesn’t mean it won’t pop up somewhere else in the future. He even said he looked at the soon-to-close Billy Kwong, but the venue was too small.
Speaking of Billy Kwong, it too will be closing soon; owner Kylie Kwong announced she’ll open a new dining concept later this year.
Kwong told Broadsheet in January, “I have 40 staff, 140 seats, and it requires everything I have to maintain and do the things I like in the way I like to do it. [Billy Kwong] is artisanal, it’s not a commercial operation. I like to write the specials, I like to run the food to customers and I like to make sure it feels like it’s a family. I’ve been a restaurateur for 19 years, I turn 50 this year and it’s time to change.”
While it’s not certain what that change will be yet (and the actual closing date hasn’t been established), Kwong reckons her new venture will hew more closely to the values she holds dear, including the use of sustainable, organic produce and Australian bush foods.
“In the last five years the whole global food community has changed and evolved because of social media,” she says. “We’re so connected with the outside world, with people from right across the world. I want to get into the world more and experience what other people have to say and bring those ideas back home.”
Chinta Ria Mood for Love
Word is that after seven years, Westfield Sydney Malaysian diner Chinta Ria Mood for Love will not be renewing its lease and shut on Saturday June 15. A spokesperson for the restaurant has told Broadsheet the restaurant's owners will spend some time reviewing their options and re-energising in preparation for a rebirth of the venue elsewhere.
It relocated from Darling Harbour to the shopping complex in 2011. Chef Simon Goh's other eatery, Chinta Kechil, remains open in Double Bay.