Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller and receive a copy of Nordic Light - offer ends 23 April 2017.

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

The Royal Mail Hotel is changing

Executive chef Robin Wickens has a stronger influence at the Royal Mail Hotel's upcoming restaurant, slated to open later this year.

Adventuring along America's north-west rivers

The rivers of America's north-west running through Washington state and Oregon form the arteries of epic landscapes and bold discovery routes. Emma Sloley follows in the wake of Lewis and Clark.

The World's Best sommeliers are coming to Australia

For the first time, the world's top international sommeliers will take part in the World's 50 Best Awards too.

Seven Italian dishes that shaped fine dining in the 2000s

Italian food in the restaurants of Australia blossomed into maturity in the new millennium, as the work of these trailblazers shows – dazzling and diverse, a successful balance between adaptation and tradition.

Steam ovens: a guide

Billed as the faster, cleaner way to cook, are these on-trend ovens all they’re cracked up to be? We take a close look at their rising popularity, USP versus the traditional convection cooker and how each type rates in terms of form, function, and above all, flavour in this buyer’s guide.

Our chocolate issue is out now

Our April issue is out now. In his editor's letter, Pat Nourse walks you through what to expect.

Roast pork with Nelly Robinson

Nelly Robinson of Sydney's nel. restaurant talks us through his favourite roasting joints, tips for crisp roast potatoes and why, when it comes to pork, slow and steady always wins the race.

Water carafes

More than mere vessels, these pieces bring a cool breeze of style from the fridge to the table.

Flour and Stone Recipes

Baker extraordinaire Nadine Ingram of Sydney's Flour and Stone cooks up a sweet storm for Easter, including the much loved bakery's greatest hit.

Fast autumn dinners

Autumn weather signals the arrival of soups, broths, roasts and more hearty meals.

Roasted cauliflower salad with yoghurt dressing and almonds

The cauliflower is roasted until it starts to caramelise, which adds extra depth of flavour to this winning salad. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

1980s recipes

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

New cruises 2017

Cue the Champagne.

All Star Yum Cha

What happens the morning after the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards? We treat the chefs to a world-beating yum cha session, as Dani Valent discovers.

Melbournes finest meet Worlds Best

Leading chefs descend on Melbourne in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We asked local hospitality folk who they’d abduct for the day and where they’d take them to show off their city. There may be coffee, there may be culture, but in the end it’s cocktails.

Savoury tarts

Will your next baking project be a flaky puff pastry with pumpkin, goat's curd and thyme, or a classic bacon and Stilton tart? As autumn settles in, we're ticking these off one by one.

Ash Street Cellar, Sydney restaurant review

Tucked away from the central spectacle of Sydney’s Ivy is the Parisian-chic Ash Street Cellar. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the wilderness of the city at a safe remove, says Pat Nourse.

Facebook friends brandish iPhones, puffing Marlboro Lights and crowding the velvet rope that separates the In from the Out. There's a lot of heels, hair and hugging, and not a small amount of hotness. There's players, wannabes, cads and hangers-on and everyone's checking out everyone else's assets, fiscal, fashionable and otherwise. This is the queue for Ivy, the mini mall-sized 'dazzling constellation of lifestyle experiences' now dominating George Street's after-dark scene. With its new mix of bars, lounges and restaurants, Justin Hemmes' leafy, sparkly, smoker-friendly compound has something of a latter-day Playboy Mansion vibe and, with a rooftop swimming pool to open in October, more than a dash of the Chateau Marmont about it.

It's too easy to paint it as a love-it-or-hate-it scene. The queues, nicotine and pumping tunes that repel some are a magnet for just as many. Either way there's something about the exuberance of the place and the wildness of its concept that's hard to deny - at least once you're on the right side of the platoon of bouncers and clipboard dollies. The message is this: girls, there's nothing wrong with being yourself, just as long as it's the prettiest, tallest, blondest, youngest, best-dressed version of yourself you can muster. Guys: consider arriving on the arm of five of your tallest, blondest, best-dressed young lady friends, pack sizeable cash bribes, or land your helicopter on the roof.

The beautiful thing about Ash Street Cellar is that it's both a part of Ivy and apart from it. It's in the same complex, but you don't need to enter the fray to get to it. Ash Street runs parallel to George Street, linking up with Angel Place behind Martin Place, so you don't necessarily have to run the gauntlet of security nonsense just to wander in for a drink. It's first and foremost a bar, with the bulk of its seating in a tightly packed configuration of small faux marble-topped round tables and Parisian boulevard-style chairs in the open air of the laneway itself, bringing together equal parts Melbourne-alley cool and Left Bank charm. The fluorescent lighting thrown from the office across the way impedes on the illusion somewhat, the chill wind that whips through the street on cooler nights isn't pleasant, and you have to venture into the unlovely Royal George pokie pit for the bathrooms, but it's otherwise one of the more agreeable spots in the CBD's dead heart to take a drink.

Inside, little touches such as marble facing on the bar, maidenhair ferns under glass cloches, and a mismatched pair of oversized chandeliers give the room plenty of character. The spotlit cake in the kitchen window is a cool idea, and I plan to shoplift the curious ceramic artichokes as soon as the staff avert their eyes. It's definitely the hippest and most grown-up of the Ivy drinking options open to date.

The wine list is great. Franck Moreau, sommelier for Est., has assembled a list of 10 whites and 11 reds available by the taster, glass, carafe and bottle, alongside some interesting fizz and sherry, a wine flight 'of the moment' and, my favourite, a selection of Madeiras that would do Oberon Kant proud. This front-of-list section, with its smart picks from Austria, Spain, Chile, Italy, Argentina and South Africa (and, yes, France, New Zealand and even some from Australia) is augmented by bottles organised under subheadings such as 'crisp and grassy' (Pouilly Fumé, Hunter semillon, Chilean sav blanc) and 'rustic, aromatic and spicy' (Sicilian nero d'Avola, Rhônes, McLaren Vale tempranillo). It's a useful taxonomy, seemingly designed more around the idea of delivering you wine you want to drink than any other conceit. There's plenty there in three-figures (the 1996 vintages of Krug, Ruinart and Salon are fine fantasy material), but also a not-too embarrassing handful of sub-$50 quaffers.

And then there's Lauren Murdoch's food. It's stripped back from what she was doing at Lotus, but it's clearly a mark of confidence and skill, not a lack of ambition. Much of the tapas-styled menu takes its basis from what sounds like a lazy Saturday morning shopping list: bread, butter, eggs, sausages and coldcuts. But my, what wonders Murdoch can conjure from such basics. The egg dishes - once considered by the French to be the true test of a chef's ability - are especially lovely. The cumulus clouds of buttery scrambled eggs that come to the table in a little iron pot with a side of crumbly toasted brioche are almost too simple, but the briny pops from a sprinkle of salmon roe make it a dish you'll come back to order. Baked eggs, served in one of those low terracotta dishes the Spanish call cazuelas, are rich and stinky with Taleggio and roasted tomatoes - the ideal thing to plonk between bon vivants for eating with fingers, bread and gusto.

Continuing the breakfast-for-supper theme, guanciale is the stuff you're supposed to use rather than pancetta or bacon when you're making spaghetti carbonara. The cured cheek of the pig, it has a tang all its own, and served here on - yes - toast, with sautéed mushrooms, is a winner. The salumi selection is excellent - leg ham, capocollo and wagyu bresaola from local heroes Quattro Stelle are complemented by San Daniele prosciutto and jamón Ibérico. I can take or leave the whitebait - aka chips with eyes - though their supporting aïoli is damn fine. The Gorgonzola fondue is a nice idea, despite the fact that neo-fondues normally fill this reporter with rage, and the whiff of truffle oil is something we can all live without. It comes in another of those iron cocottes, with slivers of pear and witlof - a clever reimagining of the blue cheese and pear salads that overran menus for a while five or 10 years ago.

Buffalo mozzarella with baked green tomato, and crostini with caper-sprinkled tuna mayo are two perfect examples of the smart and subtle twists Murdoch brings to familiar bar food staples. There's a seeming effortlessness here that makes it easy to return to the menu time and time again, whether it's for a snack or a meal. Pan-fried blood sausage (from Rodriguez Bros) with apple and micro-cress is honest and appealing, but the sausage to watch (ahem) is the grilled chorizo, partnered with crisp parmesan-crumbed artichokes, mint and lemon. Shored up by a little slick of artichoke purée, it's a dish that's every bit worthy of Murdoch's MG Garage pedigree.

Desserts aren't a focus and tend to please rather than dazzle. That said, little details such as the candied grapefruit peel and blood orange segments on a chocolate mousse, or the quality of the house-churned ice-cream with chocolate sauce (a subtle nod to that sundae celebrity, Dan Hong, back at Lotus?) make it clear they're more than an afterthought. Oddly, no dessert wines are offered by the glass. All the more reason to drink whisky.

Like all small-plate set-ups, Ash Street provides a facility to spend a lot of money quickly. If you're watching your dollars, order in increments rather than in the kind of indiscriminate arm-waving shows of largesse your correspondent is prone to in such situations and you'll be fine. The mark-ups on the wine aren't unspeakable, but neither is this a place to come shopping for bargains, as the line of cash-waving look-at-me types on the other side of the rope attest.

Tucked away from the central spectacle of Ivy, Ash Street is a lime tree bower of urbanity away from the inferno's wood, and in presenting good things to drink and the food to go with them, makes an offer that you won't want to refuse. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou - the perfect place to enjoy the wilderness of the city at a safe remove. The moving finger writes: and having writ, moves on.

Ash Street Cellar

Ivy, street level, 330 George St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 3000, Licensed.
Cards AE DC MC V
Lunch Mon-Fri, noon-3pm; dinner Mon-Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 6pm-10pm.
Price Small plates $8-$28, desserts $14.
Noise Yes, and smoke.
Wheelchair access Yes.
Plus A great multipurpose venue with elegantly simple food perfect for tipplers and warm evenings.
Minus Not cheap; tables are poky.

Ash Street Cellar

Ivy, street level, 330 George St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 3000, Licensed.
Cards AE DC MC V
Lunch Mon-Fri, noon-3pm; dinner Mon-Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 6pm-10pm.
Price Small plates $8-$28, desserts $14.
Noise Yes, and smoke.
Wheelchair access Yes.
Plus A great multipurpose venue with elegantly simple food perfect for tipplers and warm evenings.
Minus Not cheap; tables are poky.

Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

See more

You might also like...

Bang, Sydney restaurant review

Panache could be a watchword for Bang, Surry Hills’ first fo...

Sydney's new cult burger, layer by layer

Sokyo's Chase Kojima's new project is something completely n...

Silvereye to close this August

Chef Sam Miller is heading back to the UK.

Back to the 1980s at Bennelong

A collection documenting the life of the Sydney Opera House ...

Chase Kojima's rice burger bar opens this week

Prepare to hold a new style of burger glory – wrapped in ric...

Ananas Bar & Brasserie

With a soundtrack laden with dance beats and a dark, moody ...


Pronounce it "bah-la" for Piedmont-born artist and composer...

Fish Face

THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED. Sydney's two best fish cooks, ...

Bar H

Is it a bar with good food or a restaurant with a good bar?...

Buon Ricordo

Buon Ricordo exudes Italianness. Passion and professionalis...

A Tavola

Sydney is spoilt for choice when it comes to Italian food a...

Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta

Ever wondered why friends who live in Bondi never leave? A ...


Chef Somer Sivrioglu aims to rescue the reputation of the k...


The Merivale group's homage to the French brasserie is well...

The Fish Shop

You can try and kid yourself by sticking to the raw and cur...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.