Food News

Coming soon: Phil Wood to open first solo restaurant in Sydney’s Paddington

From the Mornington Peninsula to the big smoke, the former Pt Leo Estate chef is ready to strike out on his own.

Phil Wood outside the premises of his to-be-named Sydney restaurant, his first solo venture. Photo: Chloe Paul

Phil Wood is a romantic at heart, which is why he’s chosen a charming corner terrace in Sydney’s leafy Paddington as the home for his first solo restaurant.

Since announcing his departure from Mornington Peninsula’s Pt Leo Estate for the big smoke of Sydney, Wood has kept his next move under wraps, save for a guest chef appearance at all-vegetable restaurant Yellow in April.

But now the New Zealand-born chef is ready to strike it out on his own in Sydney, a culinary stomping ground he knows all too well after spending a sum of eight years at Rockpool and Eleven Bridge.

“After being in lockdown last year and not being able to be in restaurants, I realised how much I missed cooking and the sounds of a busy restaurant,” says Wood. “I’m most excited about having that place I can call my own which has those sounds and sights, and memories that are created in it.”

He’s opening a restaurant, yes, but he’ll only paint the details in broad strokes for now. Wood is hoping to channel the comforting, old-school stylings of neighbourhood stalwarts like Buon Ricordo and the now-shuttered Lucio’s, where simple elegance and generous hospitality are at the fore.

“We want it to be that beautiful suburban restaurant where it just becomes part of the neighbourhood,” he says. “The sort of place you can go to with your parents, on a date, or with your friends; we want it to feel comfortable and glorious to be in, but every moment of the way you’re looked after, from the waiters to the chefs to the nourishing food.”

92 Hargrave Street, Paddington in Sydney will be home to Wood’s first solo restaurant.

(Photo: Chloe Paul)

Judging by his track record at Pt Leo Estate, it’s no surprise the chef’s commitment to local produce will continue.

“I still want to keep that slightly country ethos and focus on produce-forward food, like I was doing in Victoria, up here,” says Wood. “I’ve been popping into Carriageworks [Farmers’ Market] to see what’s happening there. I’m excited to get back into that style of cooking and to get to know the producers while I do my research.”

The yet-to-be-named restaurant served as a grocer in the 1920s before being converted into a Swiss restaurant in 1968, followed by Italian favourite Darcy’s in 1975. After that, it was home to French bistro Guillaume.

“It is an honour to be opening in a building with such a strong dining history that goes back over 50 years,” said Wood in a statement. “These corner sites dotted throughout Paddington are so special and part of what makes the suburb a vibrant part of Sydney’s story.”

And while the bright lights and buzz of the city may be a change of pace from the Mornington Peninsula, he’s glad to be back.

“Sydney’s such a beautiful city and I’m definitely doing a lot more walking than driving,” he says. “I’ll be able to spend a lot less time looking out for kangaroos, which is a bonus.”

Phil Wood’s restaurant is set to open later this year at 92 Hargraves Street, Paddington, NSW.

Related stories