Merivale’s two latest openings, Fred’s and Charlie’s Parkers, will launch on Paddington’s Oxford Street on Tuesday 25 October.
Led by head chef Danielle Alvarez (ex-Chez Panisse) and cocktail duo Sam Egerton and Toby Marshall, the restaurant and bar are focused on sharing the story behind ingredients and using both old-world and innovative techniques to showcase produce.
After moving to Australia from the US a couple of years ago to join the Merivale team, Alvarez will impart her sustainability ethos at the 60-seater Paddington restaurant. She has spent the last year assembling a team of like-minded chefs and meeting local farmers – including First Farm Organics from the Blue Mountains in NSW – who will provide the bulk of Fred’s ethically produced and all-natural fare.
Dishes will change regularly, according to availability and seasonality, with examples including handmade cavatelli with rabbit and peas, leg of lamb “a la ficelle” with laver bread, broad beans and mint; and rhubarb and beaumes de venise mille feuille.
Alvarez and her team will cook on free standing Tuscan grills and a large, custom-made hearth.
“Cooking with fire is first and foremost about flavour, but I also love using it because I think working with an open flame makes you a better chef. You have to use all of your senses,” she said.
“We’ll be working from an open kitchen and I hope that people will feel comfortable coming and saying hello. The way you cook for your friends and family, with so much love and thought behind it, that’s what I want people to feel like at Fred’s; that they’ve come to our house and have been taken really good care of.”
In a recent conversation with Hospitality, Alvarez said the menu at Fred’s won’t be designed for sharing, and will change daily – something which she feels is more commonplace in the states than it is here in Australia.
“It’s about being led by the farmer as opposed to chefs coming up with ideas and then having farmers help to execute those ideas.
“Sourcing ingredients this way, and cooking this way, is happening in most places in California, where I worked before … It’s nothing innovative – it’s how people have been doing things for centuries,” she said. “But I think we’ve been going away from that in Australia, and I’d like to be able to go back to it.”
Fred’s 120-strong wine list, created by head sommelier Caitlyn Rees will focus on small-batch wines and feature an extensive ‘wine by the glass’ list that changes daily based on Fred’s menu.
The basement of Fred’s will be home to Charlie Parker’s, a local bar with a produce-driven cocktail list that echoes Alvarez’s ethos. Marshall and Egerton, both Palmer & Co. alumni, have created a list inspired by botany and with a top to tail approach behind the bar.
Sam Egerton said “Danielle’s cooking is of the highest integrity. It minimises the degree of separation between the producer and consumer, with the added dimension of ingesting a story about where the ingredients have come from. That’s the same philosophy we want to have at Charlie Parker’s, executing an innovative yet honest beverage program not usually seen in your neighbourhood bar.”
Alvarez has also created a bar menu to complement the drinks, including Willowbrae feta with grapes and pickled chillies baked on lemon leaves; Jerusalem artichoke, green garlic and a daily changing flatbread; Grilled Piccolo Farm quail wrapped in pancetta; and burnt caramel ice cream with Goslings Rum.
Both venues have been created by a design team including Justin and Bettina Hemmes, Vince Alafaci and Caroline Chocker of ACME & Co., and stylist Amanda Talbot. The interior is pared back and understated, with a palette of rich browns, dusty pinks and petrol blues, softened further by the existing lime walls. The site boasts galvanised steel windows and old French oak timbers, while an atrium lets natural light permeate through the dining room and down to Charlie Parker’s. Downstairs, the cocktail bar has washed-green peeling walls, old bricks and exposed sandstone.
Fred’s and Charlie Parker’s follow Merivale’s first Oxford Street property, The Paddington, which opened in November last year. Helmed by executive chef Ben Greeno, The Paddington serves rotisserie meats, fish and vegetables (see video below), and boasts a cocktail bar with drinks also crafted by Egerton and Marshall.
Greeno will soon open a chicken shop in the small shopfront between Fred’s and The Paddington.