The reception area at Wests Ashfield Leagues Club is what you’d expect from a sports club. Uniformed staff mill around an open lobby. In the background there’s the muffled dinging of pokie machines.
At the top of the escalator, though, there’s an unexpected oasis. It’s The Garden, a farm-to-fork restaurant.
Chef Oliver Heath has developed relationships with farmers and set up the infrastructure to get meat and produce directly to the restaurant. All the meat, fruit and vegetables is from NSW farms, and it’s all traceable. The menu is dictated by working with growers to secure the freshest seasonal produce.
The Farmer’s Plate includes lamb cooked in a Texan barbeque sauce and served with cumin-roasted cauliflower and chilli-garlic broccoli. The lambs are pasture raised on a farm near Tambar Springs and get fat eating kale. The Garden Salad is a mixture of vegetable textures: roasted, raw and pickled. It’s tossed with fluffy quinoa and Highland Organics feta, which is creamy, rich and subtly salty.
The 300-seat venue is covered in hanging vines, and the décor is mid-century modern with farmhouse charm. With its natural light, views of the inner west and shadows of the CBD skyline, the al-fresco area has the best seats in the house.
The armchairs next to the fireplace are a cosy spot for sipping whisky in winter, and the wood-fired pizza oven provides great theatre.
At the dessert counter, fresh, plump cherries and blueberries from a wombat farm shine atop tarts and cheesecakes.