The chef Mitch Orr, best known for the avant-garde pasta dishes that have earned him the epithet ‘the prince of pasta’, recently celebrated something of a milestone.
The Rushcutters Bay restaurant he co-owns alongside three other proprietors, ACME, had its third birthday earlier this month, establishing it as something of an institution in a neck of the woods more accustomed to high-profile closures than quiet, consistent successes. ACME, thankfully, shows no signs of ever relinquishing its status as one of the latter class of restaurants, having also recently renewed its one-hat status thanks in no small part to Orr’s irreverent approach to smart casual dining and boarder dissolving cuisine – one that gives pause to consider the serious potential for the Jatz cracker to pair with things other than cheddar.
After today’s brief brush with temperatures north of 30 degrees, Orr – also recently anointed a face of Local Supply – shares with GRAZIA his hit-list of Sydney dining institutions best suited to the warmer months, shades non-negotiable.
“Frat is an institution and to me, it feels like home”, Orr says of the beloved Potts Point restaurant and bakery. Unlike ACME, where you’re just as likely to find pasta dishes paired with coffee, okra and ponzu elements, the offering at Paradiso hews more closely to a traditional Italian concept, though it’s nonetheless exciting for it. “There’s nothing like sitting out the front people watching, listening to all the Potts Point drama and the wait staff berating each other in Italian,” adds the chef. Orr’s recommendations? “A glass of Susucaru, scampi spaghetti and a selection from the constantly changing menu.”
“There’s no better way to start your day than with a sauna and a few laps in the Icebergs pool,” says Orr, issuing a prescription for the warmer months few will need encouragement subscribing to. It’s inevitable that any mention of Sydney-in-summer dining will include restaurateur Maurice Terzini’s iconic eatery perched on the southern escarpment of Bondi Beach. For the uninitiated, Orr recommends you “Head upstairs and have lunch on the terrace or in the bar. Again, the menu is ever changing. Start with a Spritz and some seafood crudo and go from there.”
Pilu at Freshwater
For Orr, Pilu’s is still the ultimate destination for a sun-soaked Sunday lunch. The Freshwater establishment overlooks one of the Northern Beaches’ best swimming spots, one best arrived at early to beat the inevitable crows and to whet your appetite. “It’s a set menu for Sunday lunch,” says Orr, “so the only decision you need to make is what to drink.”
Chinese Noodle Restaurant
After a round of twilight golf, Orr says his cravings always err on the side of dumplings and noodles. To crush those cravings, the kitsch-come-cheerful Chinatown institution Chinese Noodle Restaurant is the chef’s go-to for “Cold noodles, spicy chicken salad and a bunch of dumplings. [It’s] unbeatable.”
For another pre-swim brunch on the weekend – a theme emerges – Orr tends to offer the same advice you’ll likely hear from many of the city’s top chefs at the moment. Saint Peter, the Paddington restaurant of Sydney’s seafood star, Josh Niland. The young chef has garnered an unbeatable reputation in cheffing circles for his reverent, fin-to-scale approach to using the best and freshest local seafood, employing innovative techniques to reduce waste and maximise his ultra refined output. On the menu? Well, that changes daily, but Orr says you’re always guaranteed to “smash the best quality seafood handled by one of the best seafood cooks in the country. It’s the perfect set up for a swim and sweet, sweet nap in the sun.” What could possibly be better than that?
Cover image: Derek Henderson/Courtesy of the artist