Restaurant News

Sydney’s Paperbark is closing this week

But another successful vegan pasta-and-gnocchi trattoria will rise from the ashes.

By Yvonne C Lam
Paperbark's dining room.
Sydney's upscale vegan restaurant Paperbark is closing on Friday 25 January, but it's not all sad news for the city's vegan (or vegan-curious) dining set. The owners will open their successful Bondi pasta eatery Peppe's in the Waterloo space.
"Paperbark was a really exciting challenge and we loved every second of it, so while it's a little bit sad to close down, we are very excited for a second and bigger Peppe's," says co-owner Grace Watson who, along with Joe Pagliaro, runs CBD lunch spot Joe's Sandwich Bar.
Soon after its launch in June 2018, Paperbark was celebrated for its innovative all-vegan dishes, where the portobello mushrooms, threaded onto eucalyptus twigs, grilled and served with macadamia cream quickly became a mainstay of the menu.
Grilled mushrooms with finger lime. Photo: Will Horner
However, the struggles of keeping a fine-dining restaurant afloat, in a city that favours more casual mid-tier diners, are real. "The restaurant was financially sustainable, but fine-dining is a very difficult business," says Watson.
The large L-shaped dining room, too, presented its challenges. "The space is just very big which we think suits more a fun party atmosphere," says Watson. "The Paperbark concept would be better suited to a small, intimate wine bar style space, so hopefully we can recreate it perfectly in the future."
The restaurant's entrance. Photo: Will Horner
Paperbark will hold its final service on Friday before a minimal interior-design refresh for the Peppe's launch on Friday 31 January. That striking Paperbark wall sculpture will be rehomed, while plant designer Malou Dunkley will add a more colourful touch to the current plant and flower decorations.
Peppe's Bondi is tight in every respect – the Italian-leaning restaurant packs in 40 diners who order from a concise pasta-and-gnocchi menu, and an equally brief natural wine selection. At Waterloo, there's room to breathe. The space will seat 60, which means the head chef Joel Bennetts can offer lasagne and more daily pasta specials alongside the house gnocchi.
And bringing Peppe's to Waterloo is a practical decision – while the Bondi eatery attracts long queues every night thanks to its no-reservation policy, the Waterloo version will accept bookings. "It's been so very successful and so well-received," says Watson. "So it'll be nicer to bring it closer to the city."
Paperbark's final service is on Saturday 25 January. Peppe's is slated to open on Friday 31 January.
8/18 Danks St, Waterloo, NSW, (02) 9310 1356, paperbarkrestaurant.com