Restaurant News

Is this Sydney's most-wanted dinner invitation?

One sitting. Sixteen guests. And a cavalcade of courses that reflect the chef's fine-dining background. No wonder word has spread about this neighbourhood cafe.

By Lee Tran Lam
Harry Kolotas at Cavalier 2.0
In Japan, they're known as ichigen-san okotowari restaurants: establishments where first-time customers gain entry only when a regular diner vouches for them.
Harry and Sara Kolotas were unaware of this Japanese custom, but kick-started a similar invite-only dinner arrangement at their Sydney café Cavalier 2.0 in 2017.
It was a solution to entice regulars back to their venue, which, since opening in 2015, has attracted out-of-towners curious for Cavalier's inventive take on brunch. Their daytime menu features fancy toasties, including a five-fromage "Gucci cheese", and another filled with pressed potato and caviar. During truffle season, they served a hot beverage of truffle-infused milk, aerated dark chocolate, sliced truffle and sea salt.
"Our locals were finding it hard to get a seat," says Harry. "And without the support of our locals and regulars, a cafe like ours wouldn't be here."

Hence the introduction of their small and intimate omakase-style dinners – there's a single two-and-a-half hour sitting for just 16 people, with guests encouraged to interact with each other. The 10 to 12-course menu varies from week to week and riffs on Harry's background in fine-dining. Previous guests have dined out on pressed cucumber with lime oil and numbing berry, for example, or tuna-brushed watermelon with house-made salmon salami and aged hapuku.
They're keeping the spring-summer menu under wraps, but Sara hints that it'll be seafood-leaning. "Plus, there's a showstopper duck item," she says.
The reception to previous dinners has been enthusiastic. Word of mouth has spread quickly, and there was a waitlist for their events earlier this year. One time, diners gave kitchen and floor staff a rousing applause at the end of the meal. "It was an amazing feeling, considering we started at 6am that day," says Harry.
To score an invite to Cavalier's dinners, diners have to introduce themselves to Harry, Sara or waitstaff. They take the prospective diners' contact details, and email them an invitation to upcoming dinners. "I have a pretty good photographic memory," says Sara. "I remember everyone who comes in."
Cavalier 2.0's dinners occur every Friday and Saturday at 6.30pm, and run from October 25 to December 21 on an invite-only basis.
$99 per person for 10-12 courses, not including drinks.
96-97/545 Pacific Hwy, St Leonards, NSW, cavalier.net.au
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