Lot 1

Lisa Visentin
The wild interior at Lot 1.
The wild interior at Lot 1. Photo: Louie Douvis

20 York Street Sydney, New South Wales 2000

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 6am–12am ; Sat 5pm–12am ; Sun Closed
Features Bar, Licensed, Business lunch, Vegetarian friendly, Degustation, Gluten-free options, Private dining, Accepts bookings, Romance-first date
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Chef Adam Swanson
Seats 400
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 9279 3555

Lot.1 may be the new Italian kid on the block, but it has staked an ambitious claim on the neighbourhood.

Since November, it has drawn steady streams of office workers into its York Street espresso bar with homemade pastries and paninis in the morning, while tempting the business lunch crowd with fresh pasta and wine.

By 5pm, the cocktail crowd is already trickling in to take advantage of aperitivo hour, where traditional Italian snacks (think polpette, prosciutto and arancini balls) are served gratis on the bar every week day.

Chianti beef cheeks with carrot and radicchio.
Chianti beef cheeks with carrot and radicchio. Photo: Louie Douvis

Just over a month ago, patrons were given another reason to stay a little longer when the restaurant opened.

Sprawled across three floors of a converted 19th-century waterhouse, Lot.1 is an homage to the "European way of life" where the emphasis is on "keeping it in one house", says chef Adam Swanson. The 36-year-old is also chef and owner of the award-winning Zucca Mezze restaurant in Adelaide.

Lot.1's fitout is a curious, striking mix of old and new. A wall of 19th-century sandstone brickwork divides it from the espresso bar next door, and provides a beautiful backdrop for the in-house cocktail bar. This is juxtaposed with sweeping timberwork paneling along another wall, while timber sculptures, designed to replicate milk swirling through coffee, stretch across the ceiling. Vibrant purple ceiling lights lend a slightly ethereal disco vibe.

Adam and Eve dessert.
Adam and Eve dessert. Photo: Louie Douvis

Swanson sources produce from NSW as well as his home state of South Australia for the dinner menu. Divided into small and large sharing plates, it is informed by Swanson's Italian heritage and the tricks he picked up in his nonna's Adelaide kitchen, with added "modern flair".

"My philosophy is four or five ingredients on a plate. If you go back to traditional Italian food, it's really about simplicity," he says.

Smoked burrata – mozzarella filled with fresh cream  – rests on a nest of charred leek strips on a bed of smoked leek puree. The tomato element – a classic with mozzarella – takes the form of rich drops of concentrated passata dotted across the plate. The burrata's creamy curd is injected with herb-oil so that, much like a poached egg, it oozes on to the plate when sliced. As advised, we use the silken cheese to mop all the elements onto our forks at once. Divine.

As red wine lovers, we can't go past the chianti beef cheeks, which are artfully topped with radicchio and carrot strips. The beef is meltingly tender after simmering in a Chianti reduction for several hours, while the radicchio, cooked in vinegar and stock, cuts through the richness. The carrot strips, tossed in roasted garlic oil, are also delicious. We mop up the chianti jus with a plate of creamy polenta topped with candied walnuts.

Though we're more than comfortably full by this point, we succumb to food envy after spotting a nearby table tuck into dessert. Our waiter pitches the Adam and Eve as "love on a plate". Impressively plated, a column of light sponge slices with vanilla bean panna cotta sit on a bed of coffee-chocolate soil. Biblical trimmings adorn the dish: snakes of tempered chocolate, toasted apple slices, mini toffee apples (candied cherries) and a scoop of decadent chocolate-apple gelato.

We have indulged in cocktails over the evening (the espresso martini is highly recommended) but the wine list has a good selection of local and overseas drops. For those into the stronger stuff, a palate-cleansing grappa can also be arranged.

With Lot.1's basement bar due to open at the end of the month, diners may well find themselves lingering much later than they planned.

THE PICKS

Burrata, Chianti beef cheeks, Adam and Eve dessert

THE LOOK

Eye-catching combination of sculpted timber and rustic sandstone

THE SERVICE

​Jovial, informative and prompt