Captivating cuisine in an unlikely suburban setting
Brilliance can quietly manifest itself in the strangest places. Not that there’s anything wrong with this strip deep in the suburbs of southern Melbourne; it’s just that it’s more a place you might expect to go to get your shoes fixed or maybe stop for a cappuccino and fruit toast than a restaurant that draws diners and chefs alike from around the world.
But if cuisine of personality is where fine-dining is headed, it all makes perfect sense. Chef Ben Shewry is an unusually sensitive soul, and though the defining characteristic of his public persona is humility, he dreams big both on the plate and off. Though inspired by his childhood in the remote countryside of his native New Zealand, it is Australian native ingredients that feature most prominently on Shewry’s plates: red kangaroo served as a tartare with bunya nuts from the gardens of the nearby Ripponlea Estate, say, or sweet King George whiting and pearl-oyster meat cooked in an envelope of paperbark, an indigenous member of the allspice family.
As chef-driven as Attica may be, it’s also a restaurant that’s about the overall dining occasion, from the wit of the wine pairings to the interludes in the garden mid-meal – a sublime and captivating experience.