The Lower North Shore suburb of Castlecrag has never really had a place where locals could retreat to for a casual drink. Until now.

Apera is a buzzy, casual 114-seater bar and restaurant all about local floral and fauna, and – from the design to the menu – it’s in keeping with the city’s penchant for sustainability and using seasonal, native, ethical and locally-sourced ingredients.

It’s the latest venture to open at the Quadrangle Shopping Village, a once regular suburban retail centre that’s evolved into a burgeoning food hub, driven by the man behind Chippendale’s Kensington Street food precinct, Dr Stanley Quek.

Apera has three distinct areas: a bar, a dining room and a beer garden with outdoor picnic tables and native and edible plants. The venue’s design is by Josh Clapp of Steel and Stitch, and he’s used upcycled and reclaimed materials to fit out the space. There are industrial pendant lights from an old sugar mill, timber wall panelling from a Victorian home, and upholstery featuring a combination of native flora illustration and worn leather to create a comfortable lived-in feel.

“We’ve created an urban English pub-style bar with a great restaurant attached to it,” says Jenny Shaw (ex-Hotel Palisade), who will oversee the kitchen alongside partner Ryan Blagrove (The Queensbury, London).

The duo’s childhood experiences of cooking over campfires, recent trips to Spain and an interest in native ingredients have influenced the menu. Most of the food features charred and smoky characteristics from the woodfire oven, such as the Cowra pasture-fed lamb shoulder served with warrigal greens and chimichurri; and a whole cauliflower topped with Birchs Bay manchego, sage and Riverina hazelnuts.

A rotisserie is the other main tool in the kitchen. It’s used to dish out plates of Bangalow porchetta and Bannockburn free-range chook served with chicken-fat potatoes.

The bar offers an extensive drinks list of Australian spirits and liqueurs from the likes of Tasmania’s Hartshorn Distillery, to amaro from Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills. Bar manager Sanjay Acharya can guide you through the cocktail selection, which ranges from classics such as an Old Fashion, to Apera signatures such as the beets Negroni with house-made woodfired beetroot vermouth, Adelaide Hills bitter-orange aperitif and sugar-snap-pea gin.

Apera
Quadrangle Shopping Village, 23–26/100 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag
(02) 8971 5148

Hours:
Wed to Sat 5pm–12am
Sun 5pm–10pm

apera.com.au

This article was updated on September 7, 2018. This article first appeared on Broadsheet on June 19, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.