Atherton keeps it Social
Jason Atherton is sizzling hot property, but that doesn’t mean his new Sydney restaurant is formal and expensive. Instead, Atherton says Kensington Street Social, his 19th restaurant, located in a brewery turned boutique hotel in hipster-chic Chippendale, is all about clean flavours, cool food and value.
“I’m not coming here to open a super high-end restaurant; my food is very simple,” Atherton assures his local band of loyal gourmands. “I want this restaurant to be a simple place where you can come several times a month, whether in jeans, flip flops or a suit, and have good fun with friends eating some really cool food.”
Atherton shies away from labelling the style of food he’ll serve at his new venue, located in the Old Clare Hotel alongside SiIvereye and Automata. While in
England he is known as the epitome of cool “modern British” cuisine, here he is unsure what to call his food of all-local and seasonal ingredients. “Personally I’m not really sure it even matters,” Atherton chuckles.
“What I say to my guys [chefs] is that there are only two types of food — good food and bad food — and I want them to work hard to make certain everything is really good. Even if it’s just a simple salad, make sure it is one with an amazing dressing.” Atherton, a judge on the British version of My Kitchen
Rules, has been busy visiting farms and sourcing local ingredients, which he judges as second to none.
He expects to visit every three months, for a fortnight each time, to adjust Kensington Street Social’s all-day sharing menu in consultation with executive chef Rob Daniels. Daniels, a Sydneysider, has worked with his boss for 12 years, first as a sous chef in his acclaimed London restaurant Maze, and later as head chef at Maze One & Only in Cape Town.
“[Rob] married my pastry chef, had a baby and moved back to Sydney; so he was the perfect head chef to bring in because he knows me, my food and how I like to cook,” Atherton says. “I’ve had many Australian chefs in my brigade over the years, including Rob and pastry chef Adrian Crabb, so it seemed like a natural step to come to Sydney and get the team back together.“
Highlights from the menu include English breakfast tea and toast, a play on tea and toast with wild mushroom tea served in a teapot with relish and bone marrow toast and a sea urchin risotto.
Atherton is not a restaurateur who serves the same dishes across his empire. While he’s looking forward to reinterpreting a few of his English signatures using unusual Australian ingredients, he shies away from anything formulaic. “Each restaurant must have its own individuality; it’s not about me writing a menu, dictating what will be served and going home — the last thing I am about is having chain of identical restaurants all serving the same dishes,” he assures cynical fans. “That’s boring and just about making money. I’m not like that, I’m doing this because I’m really excited to be in Australia, working among a really talented bunch of chefs in Sydney, and with great local produce — and having fun creating 30 dishes that we are really happy to serve.”