46/52 Meagher Street, Chippendale

Powered by an enormous wood-fired oven that warms everything from the bread to the oysters, Ester is all about the flame. It’s this dedication to doing one thing well that has seen the restaurant make a serious name for itself, not only as one of Sydney’s best restaurants, but as one of Australia’s top 10.

As many high-school chemistry students would know, an ester is an organic chemical compound that often gives something fragrance or flavour. With this idea in mind when naming his restaurant, Head Chef and owner, Mat Lindsay has helped dress down the preconceptions associated with fine dining and brought a casual, simplicity to award-winning food. Mat has really taken the Ester kitchen back to basics, and diners are reaping the rewards. Dining at Ester is not a complicated affair. It is simple, seasonal and a bit of fun.

Mat is not a new kid on the block when it comes to Sydney’s restaurant scene. Having worked at 121 BC, Billy Kwong and Rockpool, Mat learned one or two things about cooking before opening Ester in 2013. Four years after opening, Ester is now a Two Hatted restaurant and was awarded the 5th best Dining Experience in Australia in the Financial Review’s 2016 Australian Top 100 Restaurants.

The food really speaks for itself. Mat’s menu is consistently changing due to its seasonal nature though he tries to centre every dish on his amazing wood-fired oven. All dishes are minimalistic and flawlessly presented, working perfectly with Mat’s desire to keep everything as simple as possible. By first finding ingredients and then letting them do the legwork, Ester’s menu quite simply celebrates key seasonal ingredients in the most intriguing and delicious form possible.

Dishes that have helped his food rise to fame are creations such as baked cauliflower with almond cream and mint, and the blood sausage sanga – a deep red sausage on a sweet, white slice of bread, a truly gourmet take on the classic sausage sizzle.

Sadly for those looking for a flaw in Mat’s repertoire, it will not be found in his desserts. A beautifully concise collection of sweet treats can be approached as an after-dinner palate cleanser or as a more serious sweet punch to end your meal. Mat’s desserts range from coconut sorbet and left-over sourdough ice cream to the more decadent ‘three milks with rosemary and olive oil’. This hero is Mat’s personal take on the Latin American Tres Leches Cake using cow, sheep and goat’s milk to craft each of its elements.

Fitting with the ‘organic compound’ theme, the drinks are on the natural side of things. Put together by former Vini sommelier, Julian Dromgool, Ester’s wine list is crafted predominantly from organic and biodynamic natural wines, as well as a decent selection of orange wine. Ranging from old world to Australian, Julian’s wine list has been carefully selected to match Mat’s creations in the kitchen, and just like the food it complements it is diverse and slightly left of centre.

Ester’s interior, just like its food and wine, is simple, minimalistic and modern. The first thing installed was the wood-fired oven, and according to Mat, everything around it seemed to fall into place after that. Exposed brick and concrete walls house the unassuming tables with most seats offering a clear view of both the bar and the kitchen.

Inspired by simplicity and powered by passion, Ester is a celebration of food at its freshest. Ester’s rapid rise to culinary fame is a tribute to Mat’s unique work in his first solo venture, and is certainly setting a new tone for fine dining in both Sydney and all over Australia.

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