Quiet achiever takes a new di­rec­tion.

One of Aus­tralia’s most gifted chefs rein­vents him­self with a menu that cel­e­brates the An­tipodes, as An­thony Huck­step dis­cov­ers.

delicious - - CONTENTS -

IT STARTS WITH crab sauce. Of­fered as a dip to ac­com­pany the house­baked bread, the glis­ten­ing, but­tery swoosh of the sea sig­nals a joy­ous depth of flavour that runs through­out my en­tire meal.

The An­tipodean Restau­rant & Bar is a cel­e­bra­tion of Aus­tralia and New Zealand’s most flavour­ful pro­duce, but it’s also the re­sult of a kind of meta­mor­pho­sis.

Change doesn’t come easy – it’s not only hard to ac­cept, but dif­fi­cult to ac­ti­vate, too. Es­pe­cially if you’ve had a good track record. Chef and res­tau­ra­teur Grant King had his fair share of ac­co­lades at the food Fer­ris wheel that was Gas­tro Park (this site’s last in­car­na­tion) in Syd­ney’s Potts Point, where he chal­lenged the realms of gas­tron­omy with breath­tak­ing culi­nary feats.

Spheres, foams and smears man­i­fested in fan­tas­ti­cal feasts. But as our food cul­ture evolved, that world of con­sum­able smoke and mir­rors dis­si­pated and the de­mand for a more re­laxed ap­proach and deeper con­nec­tion with pro­duce came to the fore.

King took note, turn­ing the lights out on Gas­tro Park to place an em­pha­sis on stel­lar pro­duce (99 per cent of it lo­cal) with The An­tipodean.

It’s a gor­geous space: floor-to-ceil­ing wrap­around win­dows, float­ing floor­boards, dark con­tem­po­rary fur­ni­ture, dim light­ing and Aus­tralian na­tives as dec­o­ra­tion.

Although it may be a lit­tle more re­laxed than Gas­tro Park, be­lieve me when I say King is one of the best cooks in the coun­try. He may be slightly left of cen­tre, and lack the celeb sta­tus of his con­tem­po­raries, but his palate and tech­ni­cal ap­ti­tude are the envy of many. In short, his food is bloody de­li­cious.

A large bowl houses seared sliv­ers of abalone, Blue Moun­tains shi­itake and poached eggs that beg to be tossed and bound to­gether. It’s like the best break­fast you could ever imag­ine.

Then a plump hand-tied bur­rata asks the same: burst it and com­bine with fried cab­bage leaves, vin­cotto, mint and fresh peas. Good lord, it’s lovely. Whole, roasted John Dory flakes beau­ti­fully off the bone; I like the bar­be­cued leeks that ac­com­pany it, but the fermented shi­itake’s slip­pery tex­ture is a bit over­bear­ing. Strips of blush­ing duck breast are mas­ter­fully cooked and, though a great pair­ing, the per­sim­mon on its side should be added spar­ingly for the best bite.

Then a cel­e­bra­tion of new-sea­son man­darins leaves a long, last­ing im­pres­sion. Fresh seg­ments are torched, while oth­ers are freeze-dried and pro­vide pops and crunches of plea­sure when paired with a flo­ral marigold ice cream.

The An­tipodean may be sold as a more ca­sual din­ing af­fair, but King’s tech­ni­cal prow­ess un­der­pins every de­li­cious layer. This is a cas­tle to come back to. Yes

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