Something’s happened in Cronulla. During the past six months it has welcomed an oyster bar and American burgers, and has set a new standard for mid-range dining led by Blackwood Pantry, Gerrale Street Kitchen and now, Henry’s. The latter is the latest project by the Publica Group (Clubhouse, Goldfish Bar and Kitchen).
It’s a large venue with more than 100 European bistro-style thatched seats around the restaurant’s small kitchen and in its sunlit courtyard. Paul Kelly is the designer; diners might recognise his casual-industrial style from Salaryman, Sokyo and the Italian Kitchen. “We wanted to complement the surroundings,” says Julian Damjano, Publica Group’s general manager. “It’s tropical and summery like our cuisine.”
Damjano is also the drinks curator and cocktail maker. His focus is on local wines and matching the menu with fruity, seasonal cocktails. Rafael Tonon (ex-Barrio Chino), the group’s executive chef, runs the rest of the menu. “I wanted to focus on great produce but keep it simple.” When he says simple he’s not referring to home-style food. The jerk chicken, for example, isn’t just rubbed and roasted, it’s marinated, cooked sous vide and then pan-fried and served with celeriac puree and charred garlic shoots.
His passion is raw seafood. In the future he wants to install a raw bar in the restaurant’s corner, but for now the rotating menu includes kingish crudo with finger lime, burnt mandarin and burnt chilli oil; and what Tonon calls tuna nachos. “It's raw tuna all diced up and dressed with ponzu, wasabi, avocado mouse and served with prawn crackers, they’re the corn-chip substitute,” he says.
The sweets include an orange-and-grapefruit pannacotta with Negroni granita is a perfect balance of sweet, sour and bitter. The coconut ice-cream in a slightly spicy smoked-pineapple soup is impressively executed.
1 Ocean Grove Avenue, Cronulla
(02) 9527 0305
Wed & Thu 6pm–11.45pm
Fri to Sun 12pm–11.45pm