Automata’s Clayton Wells today opens A1 Canteen, a casual all-day venue in Chippendale.
A1 Canteen, located a mere 20 metres from Wells’ award-winning Automata, will open today on the ground floor of The Old Rum Store in Chippendale, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, take-away coffee, pastries and sandwiches.
Wells said: “I’ve been working on a casual concept for a while now. We tested it out with auto.lab, and we’ve been waiting for the right space to open something permanent. Finding a site directly across the road from Automata was a dream. A1 Canteen will be our take on casual and will have the same principles as Automata in terms of interesting produce and a strong dedication to quality, just more casual. I wanted to create a venue that no matter what time of the day it is, you can go there – there aren’t many of those venues in the area. And most importantly, a place I would want to eat regularly.”
Staying true to Wells’ style at Automata and Singapore’s Blackwattle, the A1 Canteen menu will showcase interesting flavours and ingredients treated simply, but in a more approachable and relaxed setting.
Daytime at A1 Canteen will have a casual, café vibe. Breakfast showcases Wells’ version of a Western-style breakfast. Dishes include: granola with black sesame paste, rhubarb yoghurt and sliced pear; curried scrambled eggs, LP’s sausage, English muffin; and a breakfast plate of a boiled egg, shaved ham, ginger fermented cabbage, ricotta, pickled yellow chilli, salted cucumber and toast.
The lunch offering has been designed around guests with time restrictions, while still maintaining high quality and interest. Wells see’s lunch as “an easy, simple one plate situation” with guests choosing a protein or vegetable hero; for example, a roasted lamb shoulder with za’atar, tahini yoghurt or roasted celeriac with mushroom caramel – and then add two salads from a selection; baby gem lettuce, egg mayo, curry vinaigrette or broccolini and Romanesco salad with wakame and lemon dressing.
Dinner will see A1 Canteen become a chic neighbourhood bistro that guests can dine at often with a regularly changing menu. The menu has a small plates section with dishes such as steamed tua tua clams with anchovy butter and lemon; and burrata with ginger fermented red cabbage and fennel, appearing on the opening menu. Mains include whole yellow belly flounder, espelette butter, fried curry leaves, and black angus hanger steak with pine mushrooms, brown butter, thyme and garlic. Desserts are kept simple with pumpkin crème brulee or a roasted quince with pistachio sorbet.
Single Origin coffee will be available for takeaway, alongside teas, bottled juices and a small selection of made-to-order sandwiches and pastries. The sandwich menu ranges from a fried eggplant with provolone and romanesco to leg ham, sauerkraut, pickled carrots and horseradish cream.
A1 Canteen’s drinks sees a small list of pre-batched cocktails sit alongside a tight wine list, with most bottles under $100, plus a small reserve selection. As with Automata, the approachable wine list will feature interesting global wine producers and grape varietals.
Wells has assembled some of Sydney’s brightest and most-experienced talent to work alongside him at A1 Canteen. Rachael Trewin, current assistant manager at Automata and formerly of Momofuku Seiobo, will be A1 Canteen’s restaurant manager. Scott Eddington, who has worked alongside Wells at Automata and also Morgan McGlone at Belles Hot Chicken, will lead the kitchen team. Head chef Eddington and Wells have known each other for many years having met while working at Nuno Mendes’ Michelin-starred Viajante in London.
Wells has worked closely with long-term collaborator designer Matt Darwon of GP2 Projects on the interiors and build of A1 Canteen. The design in the warehouse-style building is inspired by the Bauhaus movement of the late 1920s. The 60-seat venue, with indoor and outdoor seating, will be fitted out with cantilever chairs, cherry marble table tops anddark vinyl flooring.
A1 Canteen will be Wells’ third venue with business partner Loh Lik Peng, of Unlisted Collection:, following Automata and Blackwattle. Peng said: “Clayton is one of the most talented and highly creative chefs I’ve worked with. He’s helped transform Chippendale into the amazing precinct it is today, and A1 Canteen will further cement Chippendale’s reputation as one of Sydney’s hottest food and cultural destinations.”
Ground Floor, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale
+61 2 9280 3285
Monday – 8am-3pm (coffee until 4pm)
Tuesday – Friday – 8am-3pm (coffee until 4pm), 6pm-10pm
Saturday – 8am-3pm, 6pm-10pm
Sunday – 8am-3pm