Food News

Sydney’s Nomad restaurant is coming to Melbourne’s Flinders Lane

And chef Jacqui Challinor is looking forward to the return of the wood-fire grill.
Nomad executive chef Jacqui Challinor.

Nomad executive chef Jacqui Challinor.

Photo: Petrina Tinslay

Sydney’s Nomad is living up to its name. Following a September fire that caused the Surry Hills restaurant to temporarily relocate up the road, its owners have announced plans to open a new location in Melbourne’s CBD in June 2020.

“2019 has been a big year, to say the least,” said co-owner Rebecca Yazbek in a statement. “We’ve been on the lookout for a space in Melbourne for over two years now and have always had our hearts set on opening something around Flinders Lane.”

The reshuffle continues in the kitchen with Jacqui Challinor, who’s held the head chef position since 2014, appointed executive chef across the two venues. Sous-chef Sam McCallum will wear the head chef toque in Sydney.

Nomad Sydney head chef Sam McCallum.

(Photo: Petrina Tinslay)

Some Sydney menu mainstays will make the move interstate such as the house-made flatbread and charcuterie, but Challinor says she’s keen for Nomad Melbourne to feature new dishes made with produce from Victorian farms and suppliers.

“At Nomad Sydney, we try to showcase the best of what New South Wales has to offer, and we’ll do the same thing there,” she says. “In February I plan on renting a car and driving around Victoria, meeting people and seeing what’s going on down there.”

And then there’s the wood-fire grill, a fixture of the original Surry Hills eatery, and notably absent from its temporary Nomad Up the Road restaurant in the former Longrain site.

“I’ve been missing the wood-fire, though I think there’s enough smoke in Sydney at the moment to make up for it,” she says, in reference to the surrounding bushfires that have blanketed the city in a haze of smoke. “You underestimate the labour involved in pan work – it’s definitely been a challenge.”

Still, Challinor remains optimistic. Despite reeling from the restaurant’s fire, Nomad Up the Road was an opportunity to have a “dry run” at a restaurant opening ahead of the Melbourne launch. “On our first night, we forgot the order garbage bins,” she says. “It’s so funny the things you focus on, and the things you miss.”

Architect Clare Cousins has been recruited to transform the Melbourne retail space into a restaurant and bar for 150 diners. When it opens, Nomad Melbourne will be right next door to Ezard and within cooee of Kisumé, Andrew McConnell’s Supernormal and 33 Russell Street, the site of the chef’s first new restaurant in five years. “It’s a little bit daunting – there’s some stiff competition around,” says Challinor. But as long as the garbage bins make the to-do list, Flinders Lane can look forward to a new neighbour.

Nomad Melbourne is set to open in June 2020 at 189 Flinders St, Melbourne, Vic.

Nomad Up the Road is open at 85 Commonwealth St, Sydney, NSW.

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