A white plate is carried from the kitchen to a table at the front of the long, narrow restaurant. On it is a spanner-crab shell, resting on a pedestal of salt. The shell has been emptied of flesh and scrubbed clean. Inside there’s a pile of hand-picked crab meat above a pool of bright, coral-coloured sauce, made from the innards of the head of the same crab. Briny, creamy and rich, it tastes and smells of the ocean.
That’s what chef-patron Josh Niland wants. The menu at this Oxford Street restaurant changes daily, determined by which vegetables and (all-Australian) fish are available from Niland’s suppliers.
There might be a smoked ocean trout rillette, pink, buttery and topped with thin radish “scales”. Or a whole, butterflied Spencer Gulf herring, crispy-skinned and served with the head on and the bones removed. The menu always features an artichoke caramel tart with either lemon or chocolate, and bread by Brookvale’s Berkelo Bakery. Brunch includes sardines on toast, sea-urchin crumpets and Australian oysters.
You can also get takeaway fish and chips for $24 including condiments.
The wine list is Australian-only, and coffee is from Artificer.
The restaurant fits 34 people, all seated along the wall-long banquette or at any of the few single tables. The space has exposed, original convict bricks and Australian sandstone, which was revealed after layers of drywall and false ceilings were removed in the renovation.