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Sydney, Australia

Confident, creative cookery from a fine-dining veteran

The lowdown: Get there now to taste some of the most dynamic cooking in Sydney; go again tomorrow to experience its constant evolution. The dishes on chef Clayton Wells’ five-course tasting menu rarely stay in the rotation for more than a couple of weeks.

Chef story: The 34-year-old Australian native has a sparkly CV filled with names like David Chang, Peter Gilmore, Tetsuya Wakuda and Nuno Mendes. With almost 15 years in those top kitchens around the world behind him, he opened his first restaurant, Automata, in September 2015.

The food: Wells isn’t one for coddling or hand-holding. His is a powerful and sometimes provocative cuisine, in which oceanic flavours like seaweed are a frequent leitmotif. Yet this is no shock art. Expect controlled intensity and remarkable balance, with Wells’ maturity and quiet confidence on full display.

The space: Automata’s interior is body-shop chic, as if the designer were a mechanic with a keen eye for feng shui. (Yes, that chandelier over there is made out of a WWII aircraft engine.)

Bonus point: It’s pronounced ought-OM-atah. Now you know.

On the pass

  • Clayton Wells

Style of food

  • Contemporary Australian

Standout dish

  • Steamed hapuka, cured roe emulsion, kombu butter & laver