“We recognise that we’re a local restaurant,” says David Murphy, co-owner of Summer Hill’s newly opened One Penny Red. “We wanted to make it a very relaxed atmosphere where you could come in and not feel you have to spend a lot of money.”
Two years ago, Murphy began the transformation of the red brick heritage-listed Summer Hill post office with co-owner and partner Nina Alidenes, a business resident of the area for 10 years and the previous owner of Envy Cafe. “The local community was definitely behind it,” says Murphy. “It had been a commercial business with no real community engagement within the building. It’s really been sitting idle for the last 20 years.”
Heading up the kitchen is co-owner RJ Lines (formerly of Neutral Bay Diner), serving up roast king prawns with bisque butter and fried capers, seasonal king brown mushrooms with chestnuts, braised eschallot and vincotto, one of many rotating dishes on the “Trust the Chef” banquet menu. Available for two or more, this four-course menu also features roasted Holmbrae chicken with braised eschallot and raisins, and banana and salted caramel beignet soufflé with chocolate fudge sauce.
Designed by Rebecca Wood, the room offers metallic touches and a handsome, handmade zinc bar. Brass handles, blackbutt timbers and bay windows feature downstairs in the dining room, while some original features have been restored, such as the original stairwell and the hoist hanging above the wine bar upstairs.
“The postmaster use to live here when it was first built. We’ve reinstated the postmaster’s front door. His residence was partly upstairs and is now a little wine bar,” explains Murphy, noting that when the postmaster moved out the hoist was installed and used for a mail sorting room. “The hoist has been kept. We haven’t really touched it. We’ve just given it a wipe over. It still works, from what we understand.”
With brunch on weekends and small bites upstairs like lamb-panadas alongside biodynamic wines, there are plenty of reasons to return.