Anticipation is building for Paddington’s newest heavy hitter on the restaurant scene
There is a cosy new bistro set to open tomorrow and it’s got all the markings of a venue you’ll want to give your full attention to.
Fred’s is the second Merivale venue to open on Oxford Street, only two doors down from the Paddington, and they’ve locked down the talents of Danielle Alvarez as head chef. Before her big move to Sydney from the USA Alvarez worked in the Chez Panisse kitchens, so this is a big win for people who can’t afford a trip to San Francisco to eat at the famed restaurant.
Alvarez has very clear ideas about the direction of the new 60-70 seat bistro on Oxford Street, from who is handmaking their ceramics and serving ware (Ceramic Studio En in Artarmon since you ask) to the wood suppliers for the wood-fired oven and charcoal grill in the restaurant (Victoria’s Blackheath Firewood got the nod).
Don’t be surprised when getting a table in the opening months turns out to be the impossible dream. We know because we got a sneak peek at what Alvarez can do. At First Farm Organics in Lithgow, who are supplying organically grown vegetables to the restaurant, Alvarez grilled broccolini and radishes over wood coals and served them with lamb shoulder cooked in milk with fennel chilli and rosemary. The cooking juices of the meat combined with the milk to make a gently creamy, fragrant sauce that was a star in its own right, as was a side of buttery polenta that got the royal treatment with the addition of pecorino, cavalo nero, nettles and mustard greens from the garden.
Did you read any Enid Blyton as a kid? Well, a sticky, spiced persimmon cake studded with walnuts and served with fresh honey and whipped cream is exactly what you’d expect if you were living inside a British adventure novel where every day ended with impossibly delicious pudding made by a jovial house cook.
This is deceptively simple food that tracks an immediate path to the emotional centres of your brain and unleashes memories of family holidays, perfect meals abroad and the cooking of your grandparents’ generation. It’s the kind of cooking you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Of course, with popular openings, there’s often a work around. At the new CBD hotspot Hubert it’s all about the early week early arrival for a table, but here we suspect the downstairs bar, Charlie Parker’s, is going to be a godsend. The 120-capacity cocktail den is being managed by Sam Egerton and Toby Marshall, two ex-Palmer and Co cocktail wizards who will be taking the aged cocktail to new heights by ageing Negronis on the roof and a Boulvardier in malbec casks. Waiting for a table is easiest with a house highball in hand.
*Fred's is set to Tue Oct 25. This is a preview not a review. Time Out were the guests of Merivale and First Farm Organics.
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