In an age when molecular gastronomy’s spheres, gels and vapours are saturating the food world, a restaurant that takes us back to basics using one of the most primal elements is a breath of fresh air. Serving up a menu powered entirely by wood fire, Firedoor leads a new wave of dining in Sydney, utilising age-old techniques with an emphasis on premium Australian ingredients cooked-to-order and served straight from the grill.
Owner and Head Chef, Lennox Hastie’s fascination with fire led him to break away from modern cuisine and Michelin-starred restaurants, seeking a journey of discovery that would eventually lead to his newfound culinary calling. He sought out Etxebarri, a small restaurant in the Spanish Basque mountains with a strong tradition of wood-fired grilling. Here, Lennox spent five years working with Victor Arguinzoniz, pushing the limits of what could be cooked over an open flame.
In 2014, back home in Sydney, Lennox opened Firedoor in partnership with the Fink Group. This third generation family of restaurateurs own a number of Sydney’s most loved venues, including Quay, the newly opened Bennelong in the Sydney Opera House, and OTTO Sydney & Brisbane.
The menu focuses on delicate ingredients such as shellfish and vegetables, rather than the traditional meat-driven menus usually associated with grills. Different woods such as ironbark, mallee, apple, orange, grapevines and aged wine barrels are chosen for their unique properties, and expertly paired to enhance the produce.
The selection varies daily according to availability of ingredients, and you’ll find dishes listed in ascending order in terms of weight, from light to rich. Fresh little starters like kingfish with cucumber and horseradish sit comfortably alongside more substantial mains, such as a 287-day dry-aged rib on the bone.
Similarly, the weight of the wines increases as you make your way down the well curated list. Italian-born Sommelier, Miki Bisceglia, handles each drop with confidence and passion after time spent in his hometown of Milan, as well as throughout the UK and Australia. There’s an extensive selection of cocktails, non-alcoholic spritzers, beer, cider and aperitifs on offer for those less wine-inclined.
Situated in the back streets of Surry Hills, within the heritage-listed Silknit House, Firedoor inhabits a raw, urban space that echoes the restaurant’s natural ethos. In collaboration with designer and architect, Matt Darwon, as well as several local artists, the team has crafted a space that pays respect to the original heritage interior and focuses on the natural quality of the room – think exposed timber beams, railway sleepers, antique sinks, white subway tiles and repurposed light fixtures.
The open plan dining room features seating arrangements for all occasions. Settle in at the bar where you can catch a glimpse of the drama of wood-fired cooking, grab a perch at a traditional table around the perimeter, or make yourself at home on one of the communal tables.
Firedoor is anything but fussy. It celebrates honest, seasonal ingredients accentuated with wood fire. Firedoor may burn slow, but it’s a lasting flame that will draw you in.