Forget your classic fairy-bread, The Waratah has upped the ante!
Tucked onto a bustling corner of Darlinghurst, The Waratah has sprung up like its namesake flower, a vibrant beacon of contemporary Australiana. Forget the stuffy stereotypes of “modern Australian” cuisine; this is a playful, down-to-earth haven where nostalgia meets innovation, and the local bounty shines through every plate and glass.
Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a warm embrace of olive and sage tones, a canvas for the stunning flora-filled mural that stretches across the ceiling. It’s a subtle nod to the native waratah, whose scarlet beauty inspires the venue’s name and ethos.
Downstairs, the public bar hums with energy. Here, the menu whispers of beloved classics with a playful twist. Picture crisp potato scallops elevated by delicate raw scallop, or a Balmain bug roll kissed with the fiery warmth of Ziggy’s Wildfoods green ant hot sauce. Wash it all down with a Waratah Spritz, a refreshing blend of vodka, rhubi mistelle, watermelon, and vanilla, or a classic Negroni with a distinctly Australian twist: Cacao & Cherry, featuring native cherries and a Daintree cacao base.
Ascend the stairs and you’ll find yourself in a more refined setting, the moody dining room bathed in warm earthy tones. Here, Icebergs executive chef Alex Prichard and head chef Lewin White weave their magic, crafting dishes that celebrate the season’s bounty. Lightly grilled eggplant anointed with umami salt, topped with nutty puffed grains, mushroom, and a vibrant Davidson’s plum sauce grace your forks. Or perhaps fermented potato damper, a modern take on the classic, cradling roasted pumpkin, macadamias, and fried saltbush, all crowned with homegrown marigolds.
But the Waratah isn’t just about fancy fare. It’s a place where childhood memories come alive on your plate. Take the mango Weiss bar, a nostalgic nod to sticky summer days, or the fairy bread ice cream sandwich, a grown-up version of a classic treat, guaranteed to flood your Instagram feed this summer.
And let’s not forget the drinks. Each season, the Waratah shines a spotlight on a different region of Australia, crafting eight unique cocktails that showcase the harvest of local producers. For their summer debut, they’ve turned to the lush rainforests of Queensland, with ingredients like pineapple, Daintree vanilla, and chocolate taking centre stage.
Whether you’re seeking a casual bite and a cold one downstairs, or a more refined dining experience upstairs, The Waratah promises an authentic taste of Australia, served with a healthy dose of creativity and charm. So pull up a chair, soak in the vibrant atmosphere, and let your taste buds embark on a journey through the diverse landscape of modern Australian cuisine.