Lisbon, Tokyo, Palermo, Boston; by name alone these cities conjure fresh seafood, plucked from the ocean and prepared shoreside by both generational merchants and top chefs. Sydney too has become synonymous with the seafood scene, buoyed by the ever-growing Niland empire, the pioneering work of Doyle, Hodges and Susman, and the wealth of aquatic produce from our coastline. Longshore tips the fishy scales in our favour, filling the Chippendale space in which Automata sat with a lively pescatarian experience that combines accomplished cooking with fun.
Executive chef Jarrod Walsh's snacky numbers avoid kingfish sashimi clichés in favour of hefty mussels stuffed with zingy escabeche purée and dashed with briny bonito vinegar and dill oil, or just-opaque grilled yabbies with an aromatically layered bisque and scattered with crunchy ice plant fronds. The snack highlight, available à la carte or in the 10-course snack flight, is the brined and grilled Clarence River baby octopus, with charred complexity and impossibly tender, dressed with smoked soy and roast garlic oil. But it's the abalone party pie that's destined for icon status; peppery green lip mince in a pastry case, happily dunked into the umami-detonating shiitake ketchup.
Walsh and general manager partner Dorothy Lee imbue their new venture with the same focus on seasonality that made Hartsyard such a joy, and while provenance isn't as explicit as at Saint Peter, there's a similar level of craft and enthusiasm for the produce. To wit: a Murray cod head and collar, cooked to the precise point of translucency and doused in a tangy/sweet/savoury native curry sauce spiked with bush tomatoes, rainforest lychee and pepperberry that amplifies the flavour of the fish.
Those less enamoured with fruits of the sea can opt for land-based proteins, such as a wasabi-kissed kangaroo tartare cowering under glass-like shards of potato "crackling", or the sour-sweet native tamarind-glazed lamb rump licked with pumpkin miso. But Longshore's raison d'etre is the kind of bright seafood cookery that could convert the most reluctant diner.
Though the spirit of Automata prevails via the long central table, seagrass lampshades, fabrics inked with blue and white ripples, and a new cork-lined bar create a contemporary coastal shack vibe. Isobel McFadden and Elly Webb's punchy wine and sake list showcases drops by female, trans and non-binary winemakers. And cocktails like the Negroni with kombu gin, vermouth, local imbroglio and finger lime help make Longshore as alluring for a snacky session as it is dinner.
A high tide lifts all boats; and in a city that takes fish as seriously as Sydney does, Longshore makes a splashy case for this being one of the world's great seafood towns.