When celebrity chef Matt Moran and business partner Peter Sullivan took over what was previously Prunier’s Restaurant in Chiswick Gardens, Woollahra, expectations were high. Open for just on three weeks, and packed with inquisitive diners, the anticipation was not without basis.
Moran and Sullivan have a 20-year history of successful hospitality ventures – including Paddington Inn Bistro and Moran’s ARIA (Sydney and Brisbane) – and clearly know what they’re about. What has emerged from this refurb venture is a hybrid of old and new; a country garden merged seamlessly with a pavilion and lavished with the latest in knick-knackery and decidedly retro nods.
The bones of the structure have remained, with the pavilion feel of the building still opening wide windows to the rolling lawn of Chiswick Gardens. But inside, the transformation has done away with the stuffy white cloths and hushed air, to be replaced with communal tables, soft napkins, a mixture of chunky and delicate flatware to compliment the food and the much talked about salt plates. It’s positively alive with chatter and conviviality.
The prime feature is the extensive kitchen garden, beautifully on show when you gaze out the windows at the end of the space, and complete with menu notes about what is currently cropping for use in the kitchen, all complimented by the botanical imagery on everything from the menus and coasters to the card that comes with the bill.
Moran himself is in the house, happily chatting with diners and explaining the array of dishes with a share focus, while head chef Tim Bryan (a Moran fixture) mans the kitchen. An entrée of pickled vegetables dressed in micro-herbs is a garden of delight, while mains and share dishes of Moran family grass-fed beef or chicken roasted in spiced hay, are more than big enough to feed two.
Everything feels clean, fresh and full of new life. Don’t miss the recipe for the pickled veg on the window by the loo (also with a view to the veggie patch) the array of pickles on display above the open kitchen, or the dried herbs in huge bowls in the casual dining area.