Rumours have been running rife in Sydney restaurant land about who will fill the elegant upstairs dining room at The Old Clare left vacant by the untimely departure of Silvereye. Now we have the answer. Or at least for the short-term.
Auto.lab, a spin-off of Clayton Wells' acclaimed two-star Automata downstairs, opens on 4 November. Apart from the fact the name is something you can pronounce without consulting the internet, the pop-up's key difference to its parent restaurant is that it'll be brunch only, from nine to 3.30pm, Fridays to Sundays, until Christmas.
As the name (vaguely) suggests, it's an extension of the Co.lab event series Wells has been running with guest chefs for the past few months. The likes of O Tama Carey, Pasi Petänen and Mitch Orr are slated to make appearances, with dates and details to be announced soon.
The dishes Wells has planned thus far sound far from pedestrian. His eggs Benedict come with a slice of black pudding, the grapes and berries are flavoured with with yuzu, shiso and yoghurt, while fermented pumpkin and serrano ham complement buffalo mozzarella, and the omelette is filled with smoked trout, fennel and ricotta. And what of rumours (that we may have started here in the GT office) that the brunch menu may include a toastie version of Automata's signature burrata and shellfish oil bar snack? "You never know," says Wells.
The coffee is Single O, and if you've ever thought "gosh, these eggs could really do with some booze," you're in luck. You'll find a Michelada and Tom Collins on a list of classic long drinks, plus a snappy wine list will focus on pét-nats and rosé.
Auto.lab, level 2, The Old Clare Hotel, 1 Kensington St, Chippendale, NSW, automata.com.au; 9am-3.30pm Fri-Sun from 4 November