For a brief few months in early 2013, there were whispers about a warehouse restaurant and one-off dining experience on Kensington Lane in Chippendale. The Eat In, as it was known, quickly became food folklore throughout Sydney – a cultural innovation, a singular experience, an enduring evening with old friends and new. Led by the Full Circle collective, the temporary project quickly gathered an earnest following despite it being far too short lived.
This month, Full Circle has returned with a new dining initiative. Housed in a forgotten trattoria on a quiet lane in Leichhardt is Alfio’s. Named in honour of the last chef to stoke the fires of the original Italian restaurant that occupied this site, the project will follow a similar format to Eat In. Two nightly sittings and a $50 four-course set menu matched with a warm, energetic ambiance.
“It’s family, it’s classic tratt,” says Daniel Johnston, chef and one part of the Full Circle trio, which also includes Kristen Allan and Tom Merryweather. “We like to break the little rules, make it feel fun but comfortable, sit down with the customers, be really generous, send out second helpings, crank up the music, bring people through the kitchen.”
The strictly seasonal menu changes for each evening – you may find whole artichoke with anchovy butter, handmade ricotta peppers, gnocchi beef ragu, river trout with fennel or a slice of classic neopolitana ice cream for dessert. Produce is sourced locally, with meat supplied from Marrickville’s Feather and Bone butcher. “We definitely follow the Italian path but dabble outside it a bit,” says Johnston. “A vinaigrette here, a French cheese there.”
The restaurant has been left exactly as Full Circle found it. A floor-to-ceiling beach scene fresco remains, as well as coloured lights and a courtyard complete with a canopy of hanging Chianti bottles and grape vines. “We are here short term, and so it’s about the real things,” adds Johnston. “The good people, the good food and good vibes.”
71 Renwick Street, Leichhardt
(02) 9560 2447
Thu to Sat for 6pm and 8.30pm sittings