What kind of restaurant is Impromptu Dining? It’s not everyday-restaurant food, with an ex-Berowra Water’s chef and sommelier running the joint. But there’s nothing over $30, it’s all a la carte and located in a tiny Potts Point alley, and has only 30 seats.
“We're trying to do fine-dining food and wine, but in a much more casual atmosphere. That’s why we've got communal tables and share plates. We want people to come in for an impromptu dinner,” says co-owner and chef Daniel Backhouse, who’s joined in the restaurant by Hannah McCowatt.
Cut into a scotch fillet with charred cos, sweet roasted pearl onions and miso butter. Or share a prettily arranged spanner-crab, mixed-bean salad with salsa verde; a crisp-skinned snapper with some equally crisp stinging nettle and pickled mussels; and then a plate of Backhouse’s grandma’s puftaloons (somewhere between a doughnut and a scone) with glazed pineapple.
“We'd been working in cafes and we both missed fine dining,” says Backhouse. “I was bored of doing toast and eggs and I think Hannah was bored of doing coffee and milkshakes.” The first impromptu dining experience was a just-for-fun dinner they hosted for friends and family. It was outrageously popular and many similar pop-up dinners followed. “It got to the point where we were spending more time planning the next pop-up than we were focusing on our actual jobs.” That’s how they ended up in Llankelly Place, says Backhouse.
Opening in the old Kim site, they’ve kept the fit-out quite simple; they’ve removed the Korean lettering and added communal tables and some sculptural, handmade lighting. They’ve kept their original pop-up name. McCowatt explains it’s fitting because the concept is still about using whatever is around and whatever’s good (with produce from Epicurean Harvest, an organic farm in Blackheath). Just like at the pop-ups, the menu here changes all the time. The one guiding principle is although the food is refined and at times technical, nothing should be unrecognisable. “We want to do food you'd find in a fine-dining restaurant but make it approachable and relaxed,” says Backhouse. The drinks list is similarly accessible, there’s a good selection of natural and biodynamic wine, but nothing McCowatt would describe as overly funky.
Shop 7 24–30 Springfield Avenue, Entry via Llankelly Place, Potts Point
Tue to Sun 5pm–10pm