The old Summer Hill Post Office is an icon of the inner west. Reopened in 2014 as One Penny Red, the restaurant and bar is set to become an icon in its own right. Named after the stamp introduced in 1841, the restaurant pays homage to the building’s past but is a firm part of Summer Hill’s modern renaissance.
Designed by government architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, in 1901, the building is rich with history. Inside, the high ceilings and large bay windows with contemporary accents create a casual and inviting feel. Upstairs you’ll find Vernon’s Bar, plus a private dining room named in honour of the architect. Originally a mail sorting room, it now boasts one of the inner west’s best balconies to enjoy a cocktail or two.
The revival of this stunning building is thanks to co-owners and hospitality veterans, Nina Alidenes, David Murphy and RJ Lines. Nina worked for a number of top restaurants throughout London and Melbourne before moving to Summer Hill more than 15 years ago.
In addition, David has more than 20 years experience in restaurants throughout London, Sydney and Melbourne, where he also worked as a sommelier at Rockpool.
The trio is complete with Head Chef, RJ, who brings a wealth of experience to the team. RJ trained at Longrain and further developed his culinary style at the Glebe Point Diner and Neutral Bay Diner. His in-depth knowledge of butchery, charcuterie and farming is combined with his experiences of travel throughout Italy to create One Penny Red’s contemporary European menu.
Much of the fresh produce on the menu is picked from the restaurant’s own garden, and the team endeavours to source sustainable organic produce wherever possible. Take a seat for lunch on the patio – the outside dining area was designed to showcase One Penny Red’s huge pink frangipani tree.
Later in the day, let the dinner menu take you on a tour of modern European cuisine. Dishes are designed to share, so you’ll have a chance to sample a little of everything. Start with the salted pork belly with Fremantle octopus, snake bean and black barley before moving onto the main event – sweet and sticky whole beef shin, two kilograms of delectable meat that falls off the bone.
If choosing proves too difficult, One Penny Red’s ‘Trust The Chef’ menu is a great way to try the restaurant’s most popular dishes. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the famed dessert: the banana and salted caramel beignets with chocolate fudge sauce.
The stellar wine list, curated by David, focuses on growers and winemakers with an ethical approach to their craft – there’s a story behind every bottle and the quality of David’s selection has seen the wine list awarded a number of accolades. Beer lovers will also be impressed by the wide selection of local brews, including beers from Modus Operandi and Batch Brewing. Then there is the gin list, with gin from all around the world that is matched with specific garnishes to bring out the unique flavours of each spirit.
Never forgetting its history but looking to a more ethical, seasonal way of drinking and dining, One Penny Red is a meeting point of Summer Hill’s past and present.