It has been a year of tremendous growth for Merivale and as we enter the final few months of 2016, Justin Hemmes’ hospitality empire is pulling some final tricks out of the sleeve. A stellar team of Merivale key players – Head chef Danielle Alvarez and cocktail duo Sam Egerton and Toby Marshall – are driving the group’s latest offering, which is a dual restaurant-bar in the heart of Paddington, worked around a philosophy of elevating produce with the use of both old-world and innovative techniques.
Alvarez, who formed her culinary know-how at famous Californian restaurant Chez Panisse, will lead the charge at 60-seater restaurant Fred’s. The young chef was trained under the tutelage of renowned farm-to-table pioneer Alice Waters, so you can expect a passion for sustainability to drive the offering for Fred’s. It’s an approach Alvarez has been preparing for the last 12 months while she patiently assembled a team and curated a list of partnering farmers who will be providing many of the kitchen’s all-natural ingredients.
The menu at Fred’s aims to uphold the integrity of the produce used, helped along by free standing Tuscan grills and a large custom-made hearth, all featured in a friendly open kitchen which Alvarez hopes will encourage a homely, social atmosphere. The result: dishes like handmade cavatelli with rabbit and peas, and leg of lamb on a string with laver bread, broad beans, and mint. The sweeter side brings rhubarb and beaumes de venise mille feuille, and chocolate souffle with prune and armagnac ice-cream.
“Cooking with fire is first and foremost about flavour, but I love using it because I think working with an open flame makes you a better chef,” explained Alvarez. “You have to use all your senses”.
Handmade crockery will be laid out on each table at Fred’s, complementing the art that has been carefully picked to give the walls some character along with the use of French oak timbers as part of the design inspiration, which was based off provincial French properties. Those who wish to dine in this space will also have access to a 120-strong wine list, with Head Sommelier Caitlyn Rees paying particular attention to small-batch wines and a generously extended ‘wine by the glass’ list that will rotate as often as the dining menu.
The ex-Palmer & Co duo of Egerton and Marshall, who also handle the cocktails at neighboring Merivale pub The Paddington, will be making the most of their position underneath Fred’s, running a basement bar going by the name of Charlie Parker’s. A touch of Alvarez’s produce-driven philosophy makes its way onto the drinks list here, which explores new and inventive flavours with a top-to-tail approach.
“Danielle’s cooking is of the highest integrity”, said Egerton. “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”.
Seeing as Alvarez is a big inspiration for the bar, it’s only right that she handle the snacks down at Charlie Parker’s too, designing a menu to complement the drinks with very interesting options like Willowbrae feta served with grapes and pickled chilies that have been baked on lemon leaves, Jerusalem artichoke and Green Garlic with a daily changing flatbread, grilled piccolo farm quail wrapped in pancetta, and burnt caramel ice cream flavoured with Goslings Rum.
Fred’s & Charlie Parker’s
Address: 380 Oxford Street, Paddington
Contact: 02 9240 3000
Fred’s Open Hours:
Lunch – Friday-Sunday 12.30pm-3pm
Dinner – Tuesday-Saturday 5.30pm-12am; Sunday 5.30pm-10pm
Charlie Parker’s Open Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday 5pm-12am
Friday 3pm -12am