Saint Peter, Syd­ney

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Restaurant awards -

Prov­ing that hard work and hu­mil­ity, ded­i­ca­tion to craft, re­spect for in­gre­di­ents and in­no­va­tive tech­nique can all co-ex­ist (along with waste-con­scious­ness, and a savvy so­cial-me­dia pres­ence), Josh Niland cuts a hell of a fig­ure in the trade – when he’s not too busy, that is, cut­ting fil­lets from fresh Yamba an­chovies with sur­gi­cal pre­ci­sion, age­ing fa­mil­iar fish to rare suc­cu­lence and mak­ing rock stars of by­catch species. Saint Peter, the restau­rant he opened in Syd­ney this time last year, im­me­di­ately raised the bar for seafood cook­ery.

Niland’s skills didn’t spring from nowhere; he put in the years with fish-whis­perer Steve Hodges at Fish Face as a young (or, rather, even younger) chef, learn­ing how to prep and cook just about every­thing that swims in the sea. But one of the things that makes him so im­pres­sive is his thirst for more knowl­edge, and his ex­plo­ration is re­lent­less, his menus ever-chang­ing, delv­ing into the pos­si­bil­i­ties of dry-age­ing fish, or mak­ing its of­fal de­li­cious.

And Niland’s cre­ativ­ity is quite some­thing to see in full flight, whether he’s stuff­ing the heads of baby oc­to­pus to make outré Scotch eggs for brunch, roast­ing cau­li­flower in eel skins, mak­ing a sauce for co­ral trout with its bones, head and liver. And just when you thought it was all sound­ing too easy he man­ages to seam­lessly in­te­grate na­tive plants into the mix with his beloved lo­cal fish catch and do clever things with food waste along the way. All this and he’s only 28. We can’t wait to see what hap­pens when he cracks 30. Saint Peter, 362 Ox­ford St, Padding­ton, NSW, (02) 8937 2530

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