Ever-popular fixture of the Lower North Shore dining scene, SoCal Neutral Bay has recently announced a new direction for their menu – a decision made off the back of the recent appointment of head chef Aurelian Girault.

Originally trained in France and Luxembourg, Girault travelled the world developing his interested in different food cultures before making Australia his home in 2013. Since then, he has stacked up experience in high-profile Sydney kitchens, including Nour, The Ivy and, most recently, as head chef at Employees Only.

Girault has already made his influence felt at SoCal Neutral Bay. To develop the new menu concept, Girault teamed up with chef Graeme Hunt (Chin Chin, Rockpool, Spice Temple) to create nine new tacos, a host of fresh raw dishes, and zingy sides.

Chef Graeme Hunt (left) with new SoCal Neutral Bay head chef Aurelian Girault (right).

“I’m stoked to be involved in the new menu concept and to work with Aurelian and the SoCal crew,” says Hunt. We focused on the lively fresh flavours that come to mind when you think of Southern Cali, Baha and the beach. We also made ‘fun’ a central element to its design to ensure the menu encompasses SoCal’s lively spirit.”

Among the new dishes on the ‘Golden State Menu’ are a classic grilled fish taco with iceberg and roast tomato salsa; fresh seafood options such as tuna tostada with avocado, basil and jalapeno; and vegetarian options including a mushroom taco with chipotle and avocado crema, and achiote cauliflower with cashew cream and tomatillo.

The already-launched new menu is getting a proper celebration at SoCal’s third annual Taco & Tequila Fiesta, which is taking place from Monday 3 May to Saturday 8 May. Events on this year’s program including an all-you-can-eat taco night, a tequila cocktail masterclass and a chilli-eating contest.