First published on 16 Jul 2013. Updated on 12 Aug 2013.
Attica: it’s the little restaurant that could in the tiny suburb you wouldn’t expect where head chef Ben Shewry has been blowing minds with his precise, story-filled dishes since 2006. Shewry trades in fresh and clean and exciting cooking that never leans on the props of hyped-up ingredients. You’ll find no caviar and truffles trespassing here. Instead, Shewry summons deliciousness from native leaves, sustainable seafood and maybe even quandongs. Perhaps you’ll start with a pure walnut purée topped with impossibly thin shavings of pine mushrooms and a solitary cabbage flower, served Thumbelina-styles in the walnut half-shell. There might follow a single mussel – a creamy burst of ocean salt that explodes from a delicate rice flour shell, and a slender fillet of King George whiting bathed in lemon myrtle butter and finely pearl meat served in a paperbark cocoon. The room is just as understated and excellent as what's on the plates. It’s a soft-lit, charcoal art gallery for food – although the energy is anything but. However serious the cooking, Attica is all about fun. Manager/sommelier Banjo Harris possesses an enthusiasm of rampant infectiousness, and he ups the good times further by matching your eight courses with anything from funky natural wines from South Australia to some Kizan Sanban sake. You’ll be toasting marshmallows over an open fire in the garden and fishing chocolate eggs out of nests of foraged grass. Things may be unusual – dessert is a mini beehive stacked with with layers of al dente pumpkin, meringue and a lemon thyme cream sweetened by aphid honey – but never weird. Shewry is a frontiersman who knows exactly where he’s steering his kitchen. There’s just the right amount of whimsy and zero BS at Attica. That’s what makes it magical. That’s what makes it the best.
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