Why One Of Sydney’s Most Beloved Restaurants Moved Up The Road
When one of Sydney’s favourite restaurants – the Surry Hills staple Nomad – closed its doors in September due to an electrical fire, it seemed the Harbour City was doomed to lose yet another famed dining institution.
However, true to the name, the team from Nomad simply shook off the flames and took to the road with a restaurant open from November 1. Not very far mind you, relocating just 100 metres around the corner to a temporary home on Commonwealth Street.
It’s a space already steeped in culinary custom, having been the site of the much-loved Longrain restaurant before accommodating the salubrious Orana in Residence pop-up.
Now the new Nomad ‘Up The Road’ pop-up takes the mantle and head chef Jacqui Challinor is very excited about the unexpected chance to reinvigorate the menu.
“I’ve sort of been given a clean slate to play around with some ideas I’ve had for a while so that’s exciting,” says Challinor. “Unfortunately we won’t have access to wood fire at Nomad Up The Road so I’ve had to rework the menu to accommodate, [but] guests can expect to see a few of the old favourites like the cannellini bean hummus, zucchini flowers and kingfish ceviche.
“There is also plenty of new stuff to get excited about.”
The fire in the original Foster Street location started in the exhaust system of the ground-floor restaurant and burnt through the ceiling, burning plastic (and all sorts) and creating a cloud of toxic smoke that meant they lost half a tonne of cured and aged meat plus nearly 250 kilograms of charcuterie.
“But the fact that there was an available, viable kitchen and restaurant so close by has worked in favour of the Nomad crew.
“We’ve been on track to have our biggest year since we opened and we didn’t want to lose momentum and in a perfect storm of events, Orana in Residence was due to finish up and the rest is history,” says Challinor.
”Besides the fire, nothing has changed about the way I love to cook so we really hope our regulars return to us and embrace the new menu and space. Expect big flavours, generosity and good, honest cooking.”
The temporary Up The Road pop-up will open its doors on November 1, but in good news for Nomad fans (and the wider Sydney dining scene), Challinor says the original Foster Street restaurant is also “in the process of rebuilding” and will open again in 2020.
She’s hopeful that when it rises from the ashes, it might help buck a trend that’s blighting the local industry.
“We’ve seen so many beloved restaurants close their doors lately but they range from high end to casual so it’s hard to pinpoint a reason. We had a really hard winter, the first difficult one we’ve had since we opened so we definitely felt the squeeze too but strangely enough we were still on track to have our biggest year ever.
“I’d say there is certainly a shift to more casual dining, there are so many great options that don’t break the budget. You’ve really got to work on staying in the public eye, with so many new openings we have to make it a priority to stay relevant within the industry otherwise you risk getting lost.”
For now, she’ll be just around the corner from her usual haunt, serving up the same signature dishes that has made Nomad a Mediterranean mainstay. And her pick of the dishes on the menu?
“Ortiz anchovies, preserved tomato and fried bread. I’m a sucker for anchovies so this is my favourite dish at the moment. I’ll always have a soft spot for the olive oil ice cream sandwich too.”
(All images: Nomad / supplied)
Published 24 October, 2019