Automata’s Clayton Wells has officially opened the doors to A1 Canteen, his new all-day venue in Chippendale.

Located on the ground floor of The Old Rum Store and just 20 metres from Automata, A1 Canteen focuses on a more casual food offering in a relaxed setting.

Wells has been working on the spin-off for some time and previously experimented with casual dining at auto.lab, a brunch venue that popped up briefly at The Old Clare.

“We tested it out with auto.lab, and we’ve been waiting for the right space to open something permanent,” he says. “Finding a site directly across the road from Automata was a dream.

“A1 Canteen will be our take on casual and will have the same principles as Automata in terms of interesting produce and a strong dedication to quality, just more casual. I wanted to create a venue that no matter what time of the day it is, you can go there – there aren’t many of those venues in the area. And most importantly, a place I would want to eat regularly.”

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the 60-seat venue will also offer coffee, pastries and sandwiches to go.

Leading the kitchen is head chef Scott Eddington, who has worked alongside Wells at Automata, while Rachael Trewin, current assistant manager at Automata and formerly of Momofuku Seiobo, is A1 Canteen’s restaurant manager.

Breakfast showcases Wells’ version of a Western-style breakfast, with dishes including granola with black sesame paste, rhubarb yoghurt and sliced pear; curried scrambled eggs, LP’s sausage, English muffin and a breakfast plate of a boiled egg, shaved ham, ginger fermented cabbage, ricotta, pickled yellow chilli, salted cucumber and toast.

The lunch menu is designed for diners looking for a quick meal, while still maintaining high quality and interest. Guests choose a protein or vegetable dish – for example the roasted lamb shoulder with za’atar, tahini yoghurt or roasted celeriac with mushroom caramel – then add two salads, such as baby gem lettuce, egg mayo, curry vinaigrette or broccolini and Romanesco salad with wakame and lemon dressing.

The regularly changing dinner offering includes a small plates section with dishes such as steamed tua tua clams with anchovy butter and lemon and burrata with ginger fermented red cabbage and fennel on the opening menu. Mains include whole yellow belly flounder, espelette butter, fried curry leaves and black angus hanger steak with pine mushrooms, brown butter, thyme and garlic. Desserts are kept simple with pumpkin crème brulee or a roasted quince with pistachio sorbet.

Single Origin coffee will be available for takeaway, alongside teas, bottled juices and a small selection of made-to order sandwiches, including fried eggplant with provolone and romanesco and
leg ham, sauerkraut, pickled carrots and horseradish cream. The drinks list includes pre-batched cocktails and a tight wine list, featuring interesting global wine producers and grape varietals.

A1 Canteen is Wells’ third venue with business partner Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Collection:, following Automata and Blackwattle.

“Clayton is one of the most talented and highly creative chefs I’ve worked with,” says Peng. “He’s helped transform Chippendale into the amazing precinct it is today, and A1 Canteen will further cement Chippendale’s reputation as one of Sydney’s hottest food and cultural destinations.”

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