And it’s the full package: Orr unleashes his boundless imagination on the menu, which centres around a wood fire and world-class produce, drawing on native ingredients and flavours from Italy, Japan and Southeast Asia. The wine list is by P&V co-founder Mike Bennie. And the room itself is a stunning tribute to the colours and textures of Australia’s landscape, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering views rarely seen in Sydney.
When Orr closed Acme in 2019, Sydney wondered what would come next for the genre-busting chef. And while he has become known for his pasta – the pig’s head macaroni with egg yolk at Orr’s seminal Rushcutters Bay diner Acme was Sydney-famous – here his menu revolves around seafood and vegetables, with a couple of meatier dishes thrown in. There’s not a pasta dish in sight. The main force behind his menu is the wood fire – on full display to diners from an open kitchen – which burns native ironbark and fruitwoods.
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“Ace really wanted to have the wood fire at the centre of the menu, and it’s an amazing piece of equipment to have, and such a fun way to cook,” Orr tells Broadsheet. “That’s the guiding light through the whole menu.”
Those who have dined with Orr before – perhaps at Acme, at Pilu at Freshwater or Cambodian pop-up Kingdom of Rice – will be across his food, which disregards borders and is heavy on creativity. Here, grilled snowflake mushroom is elevated with the addition of wasabi leaf, scallops are made zingy with preserved lemon butter, and a marron dish is served with desert lime and long pepper. The Jatz crackers that Orr says have become his “calling card” – and perfectly illustrate his high-low approach to cooking – appear on the menu, here with smoked butter and anchovy.
“It’s still a great biscuit,” says Orr. “It’s cool to have it on, and have that bit of playfulness on the menu.”
Though geographically it remains mostly Australian, Bennie’s wine list is similarly boundless. It’s packed with drops from new and interesting winemakers, served by the glass and carafe, with a rotating special on tap. And like the food menu, cocktail flavours lean Italian and Asian, while drawing in native ingredients – the Strawberry Hill Spritz incorporates strawberry, thyme, vodka and prosecco, while the Smoked Samurai is a heady mix of tequila, mezcal, mandarin, lime and togarashi.
The room has been designed by Fiona Lynch, of Melbourne-based interior design studio Fiona Lynch Office. Much of it is inspired by the sculptural, textured work of Italian-Australian designer Enrico Taglietti, as well as the colours and character of the Australian landscape. Balmoral Green and Harlequin granite are used throughout, as are natural timbers. A striking stone, chrome and aluminium bar connects two terraces, both with retractable roofs for sunny days.
In a nod to the site’s history – it housed a kiln, from which the diner gets its name – Lynch worked with Spacecraft Studio to create pigments from salvaged waste materials found during the hotel’s building phase. Those pigments have been used to paint linens that hang from Kiln’s walls and window frames.
“From the outset, Ace wanted it to be an Australian take on what an Ace Hotel could be –
one that would reflect Australia’s culture, colours and design language,” said Lynch in a statement. “Their desire was for Kiln to feel like a distinctly different space within the hotel.”
53 Foy Lane, Surry Hills
(02) 8099 9705
Tue to Sat 5.30pm–late