Since opening Danks St Depot in the former gastronomic wasteland of Waterloo in 2002, the committed locavore Jared Ingersoll has built a solid reputation for his ethical and sustainable approach to ingredient sourcing.
Fast-forward 8 years, a Sydney airport offshoot, pin-up for the Slow Food movement and a couple of award-winning books later, Ingersoll somehow found the time to open his latest venture – Cotton Duck.
Where Danks Street Depot excelled at brunch and lunch, Cotton Duck is set to snag the more formal lunch and dinner trade in this former warehouse space on Holt Street.
The space is simple, industrial and inviting, with an open kitchen as the centre stage and tables spaciously dispersed to accommodate the 30-odd covers.
Cotton Duck is, in more ways than one, bringing back some quasi-extinct practices to the dining scene.
Unlike its Surry Hills’ neighbours, where queuing around the corner has become a necessary infliction before any decent dinner, Cotton Duck is experimenting with a rare Sydney restaurant concept – taking reservations.
The menu too is breaking the mould, offering a ‘DIY degustation menu’ (2 courses for $55, 4 for $85) and bringing back such old-school greats as the mushroom vol-au-vent, with chicken and heart jus and a meltingly tender vitello tonnato revisited with great refinement.
“Fashion has a bad way of making something good uncool,” Jared said when I complemented him on his revival of these retro favorites.
“If you forget that it’s considered old school and a bit cliché and just focus on what it is, many dishes that fall into this category are awesome!”
The décor is a mirror image of the style of the food itself, true to the raw ingredients, but thoughtfully conceived and stylishly executed.
“The stripped-back nature of the elements – the polished concrete floors, the rawness of the timber, even the lighting, reflects the food in its presentation and conception,” said Jared of the design.
The principles behind his produce-sourcing extend to the design, which called for local designers and architects and salvaged materials, among them Hannah Tribe’s laser-cut plywood lighting feature created for his Eat Green Design dinner at the Powerhouse Museum.
Ingersoll liked the feature so much he bought it from Tribe, so it lives once more, cascading gracefully in simple spirals from the ceiling.