Saint Peter was the patron saint of fishers, and lent his name to Josh and Julie Niland’s groundbreaking first restaurant, Saint Peter. Their second restaurant, Petermen, also plays on this connection – fishers were once referred to as “petermen” in a nod to their biblical patron.
The “fin-to-scale” mission is the same here, but with its à la carte menu, Petermen is more accessible than its set-menu-only older sibling. Dishes are designed to share, and the entrees, including saltbush empanadas, are where chef Josh’s creativity really sings. A waste-busting dish of bonito sees the fish filleted and the skin scorched with a hot piece of coal, imparting smokiness but leaving the flesh untouched. The bones and head are grilled over coals, then steeped in soy sauce to extract maximum flavour. That soy is brushed over the fish fillets before serving. Josh’s rigorous adherence to seasonality means it’s sadly only on the menu for a few weeks each year.
For mains, expect the likes of coral trout for two, green curry with line-caught hapuka, and a signature chateaubriand for four, made with yellowfin tuna in place of beef. Each dish states where its foundational ingredient was sourced from. On Sundays, roll in for creative brunches featuring fatty, buttery urchin smeared on hot crumpets, spanner crab croissants, and smoked Murray cod “bacon” and maple pancakes.
If you’re going to be so thoughtful about the food, you want someone good on drinks duty too. The Nilands have enlisted star bartender Evan Stroeve (ex-Bulletin Place, Re–) to craft solid numbers like a whisky highball with mango, vanilla, blood lime, milk and soda, and a house Negroni that adds yuzu, coconut and koji to the usual ingredients.
Julie designed the minimalist room herself, enlivening it with colourful works by legendary Australian artist Ken Done. Bendigo Pottery made the robust crockery.
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