The distinctive Walter Burley Griffin-designed incinerator in Willoughby has been imagined anew, thanks to the work of hospitality veteran Jonathan Slingo. Opening its doors two weeks ago as Incinerator Cafe, the refitted heritage building has been kitted out with a gorgeous wood-fired oven in a nod to the buildings original use. The cafe serves up coffee by The Grounds of Alexandria and boasts chef Graeme Nutt (previously of Melbourne’s The Duchess of Spotswood and Albert Park Hotel) in the kitchen.
“It was in February last year that the council was looking for expressions of interest for the site,” says Slingo (who has worked previously with the Merivale group and Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel). Slingo engaged the services of Acme Design to create an interior proposal that would be sympathetic to the deco aesthetic of the incinerator, one of 12 designed by Burley Griffin in the 1930s.
“There was a French restaurant here in the 1980s that was successful ... so the space does have some hospitality history,” he says.
The current menu is based on seasonality and will change regularly. At the moment it offers pork sausage and fried-egg breakfast brioche burgers, house-smoked salmon with horseradish yoghurt and eggs, or tapioca with coconut yoghurt, seeds and mango from 7am–11.30am. The lunch menu includes wood-roasted lamb ribs with pomegranate and carrot salad, pulled pork shoulder with crackling, or roasted market fish with peas and mint. The wood-fired oven really is a signature feature of the venue.
“There were a couple of reasons for the oven – hey, it’s the incinerator!” laughs Slingo. “And I love a wood-fired oven for protein and vegetables because it gives a different flavour and we’re getting a lot smarter with the wood we use. Our supplier gave us six different woods to try and we’re still playing with them.” He recommends the flavours that the wood fire brings out in the roast chicken. Overlooking Hallstrom Park, and adjacent to the Willoughby Leisure Centre and courts, we recommend getting in before the netball season starts.
2 Small Street, Willoughby
(02) 8188 2220