When charged with opening a restaurant at Sydney Modern – the once-in-a-generation extension of the Art Gallery of NSW – chef Clayton Wells (ex-Automata) decided to make things fun, fresh and accessible.

Though Mod Dining is more casual than Wells’s Chippendale fine diner Automata, it’s not hard to see the chef’s hand in dishes that cleverly mix and match flavours and ingredients in interesting and unexpected ways. For this outing, he’s also with The Fresh Collective, which is behind other AGNSW eateries such as Crafted by Matt Moran and The Gallery Cafe.

When the restaurant launched, standout mains included diamond shell clams in curry-leaf sauce (you’ll want some bread to mop up the leftovers), and a rainbow trout in XO and red vinegar with pickled mustard greens, steamed gai lan (Chinese broccoli), and broccolini. For a lighter bite, there was a fried-prawn sandwich – similar to a favourite from Wells’s casual diner A1 Canteen – with old bay, herb and jalapeno sauce, mayonnaise, cos lettuce and coriander.

To match Wells’s dishes, there’s an all-Australian wine list that, like the food, is approachable but interesting.

Mod Dining commands beautiful views of Sydney Harbour, backdropped by Woolloomooloo and Garden Island, from lower level 1 of Sydney Modern’s North Building. The restaurant’s interior design is minimal, so as not to take away from the architecture. Oak tables and chairs surround a circular central kitchen, with pops of fluro green and yellow for colour.

Contact Details

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Updated: May 30th, 2023

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