SYDNEY | Saint Peter was unlike anything else when owner/chef Josh Niland opened his Paddington restaurant in 2016. Five years later, it’s still in a league of its own, and one of the most exciting places to dine at not just in Sydney, but in Australia.
For the uninitiated, Saint Peter put the focus on seafood. That’s underselling what Josh Niland is doing here, however. It’s all about “fin to scale” cooking, showcasing lesser known fish and seafood, and how all parts of the fish can be used in ways you may have never turned your mind to.
In the narrow dining room, reconfigured last year to feature a single 12 metre long marble bar for dining, every diner has the best seat (or should I say stool) in the room. This isn’t a dining space that overlooks the kitchen, it’s a dining space in the kitchen. It makes the experience so interactive. The chefs making your food and serving it too you are one in the same. There’s constant banter and education between the kitchen and diners. It makes for a special dining experience.
Fin to scale, nose to tail, offal. These are terms that can turn many a diner off. What’s so impressive about what Josh and his team are doing in the kitchen, is just how approachable the menu is. Fish skin becomes a crispy, crackling-like delight. Eyeballs of mirror dory become prawn cracker like crisps.
One of the most interesting things that I tried is a salami made from various parts of Ocean trout. It’s dry aged and cured, going through essentially the same process that a traditional Italian salami goes through. It all happens at the Fish Butchery up the road, where the restaurant’s ageing room, prep room, and retail seafood shop is. Josh enthusiastically explained the process to me and the result was unlike anything I’d ever eaten. Fish, but with the texture and consistency of salami. Served with fresh sourdough, house churned butter, and Gordal olives to be eaten together just like mini-rolls, just wow.
For drinks, its a mostly Australian selection of interesting wines and beers, and a sharp cocktail list. A decent number of wines are available by the glass, and there’s also sake and spirits.
During lunch it’s an a la carte menu, while at dinner it’s a set menu that by all accounts takes things to the next level. My first visit was during lunch, and you bet that the next time I’m in Sydney I’ll be making a dinner booking.
362 Oxford Street
New South Wales 2021
Wed: 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Thu – Sat: 12:00pm to 2:30pm; 5:30pm to 9:00pm