Wisely, the entrepreneurial duo is avoiding any comparisons with the site’s previous tenants. “You would never try and fill Noma's shoes. They're an amazing team,” says Savage. They’ve turned the space into a bright, sun-lit bistro decorated with a 1950s speedboat (Alvin), which hangs from the ceiling, and a series of timber poles like a forest of wind chimes. “They sway in the wind,” says Savage.
The other differentiator is the restaurant’s scope. “This isn't a fine-dining restaurant at all. It’s a seafood restaurant,” Savage says. While there is a $95, five-course, degustation-style menu, everything else is a la carte and designed to share.
Instead of being native-produce heavy, Japanese-inspired, or derivative of any cuisine, the menu is a broad mix of different cuisines and flavours. Kingfish is served with a black-bean vinaigrette and yuzu pickled daikon; an ocean trout parfait is topped with trout consommé jelly and decorated with crispy lentils, fish roe and dill; and a Murray cod is charcoal roasted in paperbark and dressed with what Savage calls a “curry-like” mix of native spices.
Most spectacular is the seafood platter, a two-storey bazaar of oysters; fat Skull Island prawns; strawberry clams (with buttermilk and cucumber); ocean bugs; and pippies. There’s seaweed mayo ponzu and red-wine vinaigrette for dipping.
To match, the wine list is white heavy but as Hildebrandt says, there are always exceptions to the rules. “I'd much rather have a pinot with salmon than any white wine.” Hildebrandt says what reds Cirrus does serve are lighter varieties.