After much beavering, Wolf-tasker’s Wombat emerges from the garden
WITH Australian chef Skye Gyngell winning a Michelin star for a restaurant in a London garden centre and Matt Moran opening a new eatery in Sydney’s Chiswick Gardens, there’s something of a trend towards dining amid the dandelions.
The latest proponent of gourmet food in a garden setting is Alla Wolf-Tasker of the awardwinning Lake House just outside Melbourne, who has been beavering away creating Wombat Hill House in the old caretaker’s cottage at Daylesford’s Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens.
The cafe, due to open within days, is a super-sleek space sporting an elaborate mural from Wolf-Tasker’s artist husband Allan, cosy armchairs by an open fire, a dining area catering to a breakfast and lunch crowd and a covered bar serving Sunday night aperitivos.
‘‘Cafe menus will follow the philosophy we’ve had for 28 years at Lake House: natural, seasonal, local and organic where possible, but the cooking and presentation is much simpler,’’ Wolf-Tasker tells Food Detective.
‘‘The winter menu will include sandwiches and baguettes, warming soups, plenty of comfort food like my mother’s fabulous meatballs on mash, some rather posh pot pies and pasties, housemade charcuterie and daily specials such as a choucroute built around local cotechino, or a coq au vin.’’ The cafe, at the top of Wombat Hill, will have its own vegetable patch and will also sell Wolf-Tasker’s Wolf in the Kitchen products, and picnics to be enjoyed in the gardens. More: wombathillhouse.com.
IF David Tsirekas’s mum’s filo pastry is half as good as WolfTasker’s mother’s meatballs and mash, then Sydney’s on to a good thing, too. Tsirekas, who has run Perama in the city’s inner west for 18 years, is one of a legion of highprofile chefs moving into the new Westfield Sydney food precinct and his outlet will be one of the most distinctive yet. ‘‘It will look like something out of the Byzantine period,’’ Tsirekas tells Detective of Xanthi, opening on August 15. ‘‘My idea is to make it a real fun park for Greek food; I’ll be doing different things that symbolise it through the ages, including fresh filo rolling daily. I’ve got the pastry chef to work with my mother to learn how to do it.’’ Other ideas Tsirekas has up his sleeve are a Mediterranean high tea, traditional Greek breakfast and a ‘‘Sunday recovery party for the young Greek kids who’ve been out partying the night before’’. Detective is intrigued. Her idea of a Sunday recovery is a lie-down in a dark room with a cold flannel over her face, but she’s sure Tsirekas has something rather more exciting up his sleeve. More: xanthi.com.au.
JUST when Detective thought she’d got her head around concepts such as spherification and culinary foam, the food world throws another curve ball.
Not content with installations on the plate, Melbourne chef Shannon Bennett has got in touch with his inner Dali and commissioned ‘‘three major sitespecific artworks’’ for his new Vue de Monde restaurant in Melbourne’s Rialto Tower. The first creation, by Australian artist Mikala Dwyer, will be transparent clouds suspended above the bar.
‘‘The plastic sculptures seem both organic and human made, containing nothing and everything in their empty forms,’’ says Dwyer in a publicity quote that Detective is still trying to make head or tail of. A ‘‘neon text work’’ by American artist Joseph Kosuth, meanwhile, will explore ‘‘the contrasting positions of Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche; nature and science; intuition and order’’, while Emily Floyd’s ‘‘living topiary figures’’ will apparently emerge over time from open-frame steel sculptures. Detective hasn’t been so alarmed by a collision of the food and arts worlds since Sydney chef Tony Bilson sent out a bevy of young beauties in skirts sporting edible tidbits at his Cuisine Now festival a couple of years back and Lady Gaga turned up in a meat dress at a music awards do. Whatever happened to a nice bit of flock wallpaper at the local Indian? More: vuedemonde.com.au.