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  1. Green leather chairs around a round table with open kitchen in the background
    Photograph: Supplied/Crown SydneyInteriors at Woodcut
  2. Some of the steak and delicious dishes at Woodcut
    Photograph: Supplied
  3. Fish over charcoal
    Photograph: Supplied/Crown Sydney
  4. Prawns in a bowl of ice
    Photograph: Supplied/Crown Sydney
  5. Cherries in a bowl of ice
    Photograph: Supplied/Crown Sydney
  6. Couple leaning against a wall
    Photograph: Supplied/Crown Sydney
  7. Crown building with Harbour Bridge in the background
    Photograph: Supplied/Crown Sydney

Time Out says

With four open kitchens and countertop dining, everything's on show at the Bridge Room team's ambitious Crown eatery

Just walking into Woodcut is an experience in itself. Firstly, the sprawling dining room is enormous  – it seats 300 both inside and al fresco – and with golds and browns and blacks, statement moody lighting and leather seats, it’s absolutely glamorous. You can tell a lot of thought (and cash) has gone into the ambitious space and the results are impressive. Read: If you need to schmooze someone, this is the spot to do it in.

Secondly, the smell of charcoal, fire and smoke meets you as quickly as you’re greeted by the smiling maître d' at the front door. It’s inviting and nostalgic all at once, taking us back to our childhood of weekends spent around a campfire. Except it’s not marshmallows being toasted, but premium cuts of meats and vegetables on the finest charcoal grills across four different kitchens. Each of the kitchens has its own focus – fire, smoke, ice and steam – and the chefs communicate with each other using headsets. Serious business, and the results are delicious.

Located on the bottom floor of the Crown, Woodcut is by restaurateurs Sunny Lusted and her husband executive chef Ross Lusted. If those names sound familiar, the duo were behind the beloved Bridge Room, which sadly closed in 2019. Woodcut is a homage to the couple's travels and their memories of slow cooked meals in a wood burning oven or over open fire. “While we actually planned the restaurant for three years, it’s been a work in progress for about 15,” says Lusted.

Across the kitchens you’ll find a wood oven, a Japanese grill, wood-burning grills, römertopfs (a kind of German claypot), and a series of pressurised steam kettles – they don't muck around. Dishes are grouped together depending on their cooking method of either fire, smoke, ice and steam. Plates include a Wagyu beef skewer with rose harissa, spiced salt, pistachio and mint; native live pippies with vadouvan (a slightly sweet spice blend), roasted chickpeas and curry leaves; grass fed dry-aged O’Connor sirloin; eggplant, tomato, cardamom, sheep’s yoghurt, aleppo pepper and more.

We all know booze and steak go hand-in-hand. So, to celebrate World Whisky Day on May 20, Woodcut has created a limited-edition Benriach whisky-inspired favourites menu and cocktails pairing, available from now until May 22, 2023. Start off with whisky-cured salmon with trout roe, cultured cream, sprouted grain cracker and whisky gel paired with a Benriach Yuzu Highball, before the star of the show – the ultimate scotch fillet. Brushed with single malt whisky, the Rangers Valley Scotch fillet is then grilled over iron bark embers and served on a cast-iron skillet alongside a whisky sauce made from beef stock, bone marrow and Benriach smoke season cream. Finish with walnut crepes with whisky softened prunes, milk ice-cream and whisky caramel. 

“Scotch and steak pair beautifully together because the smoky notes of the scotch whisky mimic the flavour of the grill,” says Lusted. For steak and whisky lovers, this is pretty much as good as it gets. You can make a booking at Woodcut here.

Read on for our original write-up of Woodcut by Divya Venkataraman from 2020.  


Fire, smoke, ice and steam. It sounds like it’s out of a George RR Martin novel, but actually, it refers to the four dedicated open kitchens that husband and wife restauranteurs Ross and Sunny Lusted have installed in the middle of their sprawling eatery Woodcut.

While the Lusteds have been in the hospitality business for many years – they closed the beloved Bridge Room in 2019 to sharpen their focus on the project – they’ve never had the chance to dream quite as big as they have with Woodcut. Hugging the Barangaroo waterfront, it’s a modern Australian dining experience with a focus on spectacle. And it’s been a long time coming.

“While we’ve actually been planning the restaurant for three years, it’s been a work in progress for about 15,” says Ross Lusted. 

Each of Woodcut’s fire, smoke, steam and ice kitchens is positioned such that the method of cookery informs every decision that follows it: how the guests, seated around the kitchens on bar stools, can view the culinary action; the décor that finishes it; the implements decking out each one (the pressurised steam kettles are imported from the US, the cast-iron pans were fashioned from historical moulds dug out of storage and recast at the Lusteds' behest).

The kitchens are also designed to promote a fluidity between the physical spaces of chef and diner. No longer is the guest in the dining hall while the chef wipes their brow in the sweltering kitchen. At Woodcut, it’s all about elevated counter seating and tables set around the kitchens – a step up on the recent trend of kitchen windows.

“It’s a great opportunity for chefs to interact, to see what they’ve created is received. Here, there’s no back of house,” says Ross Lusted. “It’s all open for everyone.”

Minutiae is elevated to high stakes: the gidgee heartwood of a steak knife, carved by an acquaintance’s hairdresser son, is as important as the design of a large-scale foyer artwork. Brass knobs are painstakingly chosen.  

“You sort of forget that there’s a woman in South Australia blowing glass trees for us,” says Ross.   

When considering the kind of food they would serve, the Lusteds dug back through their histories. Solid fuel cooking, with its focus on the visual and the theatrical, held a recurring appeal for the couple – from Ross’s South African background and the foods he ate in childhood to the travels that have taken them all around the world.

But obviously, because we’re opening a restaurant in the Crown, and it’s the Lusteds, ’rudimentary’ takes on a different meaning than it otherwise might. The essence of fuel cooking might be basic, but its iteration at Woodcut is not: across the kitchens, there’s a wood oven, a Japanese grill, wood-burning grills, römertopfs (a kind of German clay pot), and a series of pressurised steam kettles. And that’s not even counting the ‘ice’ component. 

As Ross Lusted says, “Hospitality is entertainment. We’re in the entertainment business."

Avril Treasure
Written by
Avril Treasure


Crown Sydney
1 Barangaroo Avenue
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