New venue, Poetica is opening in North Sydney on 1 September and the modern Sydney bar and grill is now taking reservations. Fire, wood, and charcoal are at the heart of Poetica, with the venue boasting a 15-metre-long open kitchen with a Josper charcoal oven and custom wood-burning heath. It also features an impressive 700-bottle wine wall and glass-fronted dry-ageing cabinets. 

The restaurant can seat 120 guests while the adjoining 40-person bar and the outdoor terrace is the perfect destination for cleverly curated cocktails that celebrate Australian ingredients. 

What kind of dishes can you expect at Poetica? The restaurant menu begins with 10 raw and cooked starters, moving into ‘charcoal’, ‘wood, ‘dry-aged’, sides, and dessert. Head chef Connor Hartley-Simpson (The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar; Gastrologik, Stockholm; Quince, San Francisco) delivers a sense of precision, deliberation, and detail in extracting the best flavours from the produce. 

While there’s a noticeable use of charcoal and wood fire, Hartley-Simpson incorporates it only where it enhances the flavours, such as charring leek tops in the Josper to create a delicious oil to drizzle over the braised leeks, nori, and Smoke Trap Eel starter. Sydney rock oysters topped with njuda and a guindilla pepper are treated to an ancient wood fire ‘flambadou’ technique as melted beef fat is dripped from a red-hot cast-iron cone over the top. Order the oysters alongside the crispy focaccia di recco while you decide on the rest.

Connor has a passion for preserving – a technique he developed while he was head chef at Sweden’s two-Michelin star Gastrologik. This technique is sampled throughout the menu with delicate scallops combined with the freshness of yuzu kosho (fermented Australian yuzu peel and chilli), yuzu juice, and thinly sliced celery for textural crunch. Hints of pickled lemon are in the broad bean salad with ricotta while pickled Biquinho peppers add a pop of sweetness and acidity to wood-fired sugar loaf cabbage, smoky grilled butter, and fried garlic.

Smoky, slow-cooked big meats feature on the menu, including a range of whole sirloins, T-bones and tomahawks. The swordfish, dry-aged on the bone for around seven days, sits above the fire slowly cooking until the last minute when it gets a flash on the hot grill to caramelise. It’s served with a buttery roasted fish sauce that is poured tableside. A whole rainbow trout, butterflied and cured then grilled directly over the wood to crisp the skin, is paired with fresh dill, lemon, shallots, and brown butter. The menu is designed with sharing in mind, but many dishes can easily be enjoyed individually, including a slow-cooked pork jowl in black garlic and honey glaze with a chargrilled cos lettuce and vinaigrette.

  • Poetica opens its doors on 1 September
  • Where: Mezzanine level, 1 Denison Street, North Sydney
  • When: Open Tuesday to Saturday. Restaurant: lunch, 12pm – 3pm; dinner, from 5pm I Bar: 12pm – late
  • Book your table here