The Place On my recent Sydney trip, there was one restaurant I wanted to check out even before heading over, and that is Automata. As one of Sydney’s top restaurants, the warehouse style restaurant is helmed by Head Chef Clayton Wells, whom previously had a collaboration venture at the now-defunct Blackwattle restaurant in Singapore.
I thought that the space and vibe of Automata is quite inviting, especially when the first thing I noticed was the open kitchen when I stepped in. The Kensington Street space also include a mezzanine level, and I was designated one of the communal tables on ground level with a pretty good view of the open kitchen.
The Food The food here is really an inspiration from various cuisines, done and presented in a contemporary and forward thinking concept. For lunch, there is a 5-course menu ($120), and for dinner there is the 5 or 7-course ($145) menu.
I went for the 7-course Menu. Off to a good start with a trio of Starters – Scallop with Siberian Caviar, Seaweed Cracker with Kombu Cream, Storm Shell Clam with XO Chilli & Red Vinegar. I really enjoyed all of them, which sets the tone of the meal I anticipated thereafter.
The seaweed cracker with kombu cream was absolutely delightful, whereas the clam with XO chilli is a strong take on Asian flavours.
The next dish was the Stracciatella Cheese with Capers & Herbs. The presentation looks simple with a white pile of cheese, but the cheese flavour is subtle and not too overpowering. It may seem like an odd combination with the capers & herbs, but it all blends well together.
There are quite a couple of seafood-centric dishes on my menu and this dish is no exception. There is nothing not to love about this Coral Prawns with Leek and Smoked Salmon Caviar. Fresh prawn flavour, coupled with that creamy and buttery sauce. I disregarded the other luxe components unknowingly.
Who would have expected that the pasta is so delicious at Automata? Not me for sure, but I was sold by the Spanner Crab and Fermented Chilli Pasta. You may think chilli means spicy, but it takes on a subtle form here for the spiciness. This is rightfully so, as I certainly wish that the flavour of the crab and freshness of the slightly al dente pasta are not eclipsed by the chilli. Satisfying indeed.
The main dish was a showcase of meat, where I had the Black Angus Hanger with Jalapeño, Grilled Cucumber & Shallot. Another steak dish on the menu, that was my initially thoughts. While the steak was executed well to a nice medium-rare texture, the side ingredients such as the delicious Jalapeño sauce played an important complementary role. I also couldn’t stop singing praises of the grilled greens which retained that nice charred flavour.
On to desserts, the first part was the Set Jersey Milk with Watermelon Juice and Olive Oil. Quite an unthinkable combination if you were to ask me, but it was surprisingly interesting and I polished it off.
The last dish and dessert was the Yoghurt Sorbet with Yuzu Curd, Grapes, Meringue and Lemon Myrtle.
Rants The service is not bad, though it can be even more polished in terms of the interaction with diners.
Will I Return Again? Fine casual dining with an energetic dining ambience, the dishes are executed with bits of Asian influences yet it doesn’t try too hard to be overly fanciful. Every dish we had was a hit, even down to desserts. Automata is one restaurant you must try in Sydney.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4.5/5
5 Kensington Street
Chippendale NSW 2008, Australia
Tel: +61 2 8277 8555
Tuesday: 6pm to 12am
Wednesday to Saturday: 12pm to 3pm; 6pm to 12am
Closed on Sunday and Monday
Ranted by The Ranter