Sydney restaurant Acme, home of baloney sandwiches and that pig's head macaroni, is shutting its doors at the end of June.
After almost five years running their Italian-Asian-ish restaurant in Rushcutters Bay, co-owners Mitch Orr and Cam Fairbairn have announced they'll be closing to "explore new opportunities."
"Just shy of our 5th bday, we've made the decision that it has come time for us to move onto the next chapter," Orr wrote on Instagram. "Acme has been a lifelong ambition realised, providing me with some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life."
When it opened in 2014, Acme cut a reputation for its playful, contemporary take on Italian-ish food, backed by a soundtrack of 2000s-era hip-hop. Menu highlights included that signature pasta with pig's head and egg yolk – Orr's take on Filipino sisig – and linguine with black garlic and burnt chilli, a cross-pollination of Indonesia's mi goreng with spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino. It's these dishes, along with the "baloney" sandwich (with potato bread and mortadella), that Orr dubs the "holy trinity" of Acme's menu.
"When we opened Acme in 2014, nobody was doing pasta like we do. If you wanted pasta, you had to go to an all-Italian restaurant," he says. "Now if you look around town, there's pasta on nearly every restaurant's menu. The industry is so different now. It's way more competitive."
The restaurant was a long-held dream of Orr. After working at a string of celebrated Sydney venues – Pilu at Freshwater, 121BC, 10 William St – he opened Acme with Faibairn and previous co-owners Andy Emerson and Ed Loveday at 30 years of age. Now 35, he's calling time on the restaurant he always dreamed of running.
"I don't know if it's going out on a high," he says. "I'd love to say I've made shitload of money and I'm going on a holiday for a year, but that's not reality. It's been really fucking hard for the past couple of years."
Orr and Fairbairn are still finalising the date of Acme's last service, but in the next few weeks they'll be serving a greatest hits of the restaurant's dishes. Orr estimates he's created around 450 menu items during his time at Acme, and will be giving some of his favourites – like the maltagliati with washed kimchi and guanciale – a final hurrah.
Since announcing the restaurant's closure, he says he's grateful for the outpouring of support from fans, former employees and fellow chefs, and even feedback from disgruntled diners. "I've gotten a laugh out of people who've been hating on it," he says. "That's more why we do what we do, to get a reaction from people, good or bad. If we're pissing people off, we're happy."
Acme is due to close at the end of June, 60 Bayswater Rd, Rushcutters Bay, NSW, 0435 940 884, weareacme.com.au