Sydney likes brunch, which means it's almost certainly going to love Auto.lab. The beautiful space upstairs in the Old Clare that was briefly home to Silvereye is now host to a brunch-only pop-up from the Automata team offering spins on breakfast classics, inventive cocktails and then some. Here's what caught our eye on the menu, ready for when it opens on Friday 4 November.
The menu is split into all-day breakfast-y eats and more lunch-friendly dishes for after 11am, and while Automata's DNA is visible everywhere you look (hello, kingfish with crème fraîche and yuzu - we've met before), the chance to order à la carte is very welcome. It's definitely more restaurant prices, too, rather than café: be prepared to pay $20 for a salt-beef bagel and $21 for the omelette.
Salt beef bagel with pickles and mustard.
The kitchen isn't too cool to offer eggs Benedict, but it's also not playing it so safe that it's afraid to throw a little blood pudding in the mix. For those not too keen on pig's blood before lunch, there's also granola mixed with candied citrus, lemon thyme, black sesame and yoghurt, and a supremely light-sounding salad of grapes with yuzu, berries and shiso. Delicacy aside, the hungover and hungry will find salvation in the bacon sandwich with Branston pickle, that $20 salt-beef bagel with mustard and pickles and the kurobuta ham glazed with bourbon and orange, served with fried eggs.
Grapes with yuzu, berries and shiso (top left) and granola with candied citrus, lemon thyme, black sesame and yoghurt.**
Chef Clayton Wells likes to throw a bit of Japanese into the mix at Automata, and so it is in the details at Auto.lab. Bonito flakes are sprinkled over scrambled eggs on miche, miso flavours the roasted Jerusalem artichokes, whole steamed flounder is served with seaweed butter, and raw kingfish is drizzled with wakame oil.
Scrambled eggs with katsuobushi on miche**
There's also plenty of local flavour. Near-neighbours LP's Quality Meats supply the pork sausage to go with the mushrooms on toast, while the team from Darlinghurst bar This Must Be The Place did the cocktails that complement the hip, concise wine list.
It's an original offering, too. Head straight for the Bloody Mary made with roasted tomato juice for added sweetness, tamari, red wine vinegar, spices and miso broth, but not before a Michelada Verde with refreshing cucumber, jalapeno, Megachef fish sauce, lime, pineapple vinegar and Tecate.
Cocktails by This Must Be The Place
This might not be your typical roll-out-of-bed neighbourhood brunch spot, and that mortgage down-payment might have to wait another month or two, but there's lots to like here. And hey, it's way easier to pronounce than Automata.
Auto.lab, level 2, The Old Clare Hotel, 1 Kensington St, Chippendale, NSW, automata.com.au; 9am-3.30pm Fri-Sun from 4 November until December 24.