“It’s whatever inspires us at the moment,” says Mitchell Orr, head chef at ACME, when we ask him to describe his menu. Although the spot technically labels itself a pasta joint, expect anything but tradition down at the Rushcutters end of Bayswater Road. Spot the glow of the green neon sign out front, or just look for the line of diners waiting out front.
But Orr is only one of the letters in this four-letter word; the A, C and E come from partners Andy Emerson (The Passage), Cam Fairnbairn (The Passage, Pinbone) and Ed Loveday (The Passage). A full-service hospitality crew which, after two years of searching, has found the perfect shop-front to host their collaboration in.
When it comes to interesting and affordable pasta, the team saw an opportunity in the market, but as Orr explains, “There needs to be something for everyone, we aren’t trying to be anything specific. We’re not a trattoria or a whisky bar.”
The beautiful space comes complete with dust-grey walls, dark-wood tables and a small bar, plus a low-lit, private dining space downstairs. Also downstairs is a small, square bar island, where those waiting to dine can rest their elbows with a celery, rye whiskey, citrus and soda cocktail, or glass of wine.
Orr hints that though the current menu is here to stay for a few months, everything could change rather quickly. “We want people to come in here with an open mind,” he says. “If one dish gets written up over and over then we’ll probably take it off the menu.”
At present a few starters – including perfectly steamed asparagus with a pool of thick brown butter and crunchy toasted quinoa for dipping – salads and seven pastas grace the menu. Start with Orr’s take on the baloney sandwich, arriving with a dollop of tomato relish on a palm-sized, squishy, house-made white bread roll, or rockmelon rolled in prosciutto crumbs rather than wrapped in the salty cured meat. Familiar pastas such as macaroni and bucatini are cooked up with pig’s head and egg yolk or goat, spicy nduja and fresh mint, respectively. The pasta sizes are quite small, but the prices are low to match (and hey, you can try more this way).
The beverage expertise of the ex-Passage crew means a few more obscure liquors, beers and wines are showcased behind the bar, including a Normandy cider, sherry and, fittingly, ACME beer from the States. Five fresh cocktails are each planned around their own feature fruit or fresh ingredient, such as beetroot. Wine pairings can be offered on request.
60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay
(02) 8068 0932
Tue to Sat from 5pm