When Lennox Hastie cooks prawns he puts them, still alive, straight on the grill. He sprinkles salt on them and serves – less than 10 minutes from being alive in the tank to cooked on a plate.
Firedoor has two tanks of live crustaceans and molluscs. It also has an AGA – a cast iron oven that uses the mass of the iron to retain heat from a slow-burning source, such as coal. Hastie uses mallee root, gidgee and iron bark and all types of citrus trees; stone fruits; apple trees to fuel the fire. One of his favourites is grapevines.
Firedoor has no modern cooking appliances. The ingredients have no rich sauces to hide behind. The menu is a list of ingredients, from light to heavy, some sold by weight. It’s tailored to each table.
There’s one cut of beef for the whole night, carved to order. Then there’s a whole fish option; vegetable dishes such as a medley of mushrooms with eggplant; and clams cooked live with lemon oil, served simply in their own juices.
The cocktail list is truly creative, with ingredients such as dry-aged tallow paired with bourbon, pumpkin with whisky, and charred mandarin with prosecco. Wine options include sherry, sake and several pages of savoury reds and whites, often made with obscure varieties such as zweigelt and nerollo.
Wood is everywhere: stacks of logs line the window sills, the front of the bar is made from one thick, grainy piece and the chairs are smooth but unstained.