Automata: Modern Australian

If the name conjures images of something chilly, the reality is anything but robotic. Sure, the decorative detailing, involving valves and steel flanges, has a touch of the Fritz Lang about it. but the warmth and buzz of the place (projected in no small part by the impressive floor team) makes it more of an engine room than assembly line. All the pistons are firing in the open kitchen, certainly. The lumpen plates are duff, but chef Clayton Wells's compositions are perfectly tuned. He presents onions both pickled and cooked to softness as a foil for grilled bonito on kombu butter, throws a toasty scatter of za'atar over duck hearts and roasted lettuce for texture, and slips the surprise of capers into an inspired, texturally daring dessert of yoghurt sorbet, plum and bee pollen. The set five courses fly fast and fun, but the bar menu is perfect for even shorter attention spans, especially taken in conjunction with the feisty, foxy drinks offer.

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