Cronulla used to be where chefs went to retire and surf. Now it's where they head for inspiration and to test new ideas. Last year Luke Collins sold his well-reviewed Benchmark restaurant to join the Cronulla action. Last week he opened Shucked Oyster Bar & Posh Takeaway (pictured), a hip-hop shack with musicians graffiti-etched on the walls and oysters covered in lemongrass granita.
He argues Cronulla has been quick to fill the vacuum following the cooling of fine dining. "People here want quality in a simpler, more relaxed setting," he says. "I don't think there's anything like it anywhere else. There's takeaway and a group of ladies sitting here going through bottles of Veuve and eating oysters," Collins says.
Former fine dining chef Paul Camilleri pumps out up to 4000 wagyu and pork belly burgers a week at his four-month-old Eat Burger in Cronulla. Joe Natale ran Rambutan in Darlinghurst before defecting to Cronulla, opening a string of modern eateries, including Alphabet St.
Collins says Sydney rock oysters are the early best-sellers at Shucked, but it's the toppings creating a stir, like the wasabi and pickled ginger "Toyko".