Meet "Bob" - the new dining pop-up that Three Blue Ducks opened yesterday at Kitchen By Mike's old site in Rosebery.
So who, exactly, is Bob?
He's a 540 kilogram barbecue that co-chef/owner Mark LaBrooy had fabricated by a Byron Bay metalworker. It's so hefty that it took 20 staff members to move it across the Rosebery site, as part of a team/muscle-building exercise on Wednesday.
"The intention is that when the weather gets nice, we'll get that going and cook a whole lamb, Argentinean-style," he says.
Smoke, wood and char are the secret weapons that the Three Blue Ducks crew is branding at this latest eatery; the menu is supercharged with flames and is "a bit bold", he says. So don't expect bacon and eggs.
Instead, there's a "banging" Piri Piri chicken dish ($31) with lemon, thyme and soft polenta boosted with chicken stock that's produced from bones left in the wood-fired oven overnight; a broth of the same stock is served with almond cream, roasted artichokes, parsnips, pears and chestnuts ($23); plus, there's a charred "occy" with corn, pickled chilli and fermented radish ($27); and wood-roasted cauliflower with pickled grapes, sumac and a flourish of cauliflower puree ($25).
Here, every ingredient gets maxed out - opening day featured a special called "Fish Scraps": salmon belly and skin given a nice scorching in the wood-fired oven and served with braised purple Congo potatoes. There's also "mushroom ketchup" - made out of portobello and pickled enoki trimmings, cooked off with onion, garlic and chilli, blasted with Worcestershire sauce, caramelised and then blitzed. It's served for breakfast with charred greens, pecorino, soft egg, a fresh hit of watercress and wood-fired portobello mushrooms ($20).
"It's a new game for us," says LaBrooy, who is running Bob with chefs/co-owners Darren Robertson and Andy Allen - and head chef Pete MacKay. This high-level heat is what makes this venue different from their Bronte and Byron Bay ventures. "We've never had a kitchen that's had a wood-fired oven, we've never had a coal pit that has an underbench fridge that's right next to it."
"We were having a giggle about it today – we were making some friands for the cabinet and we were like, they're just too uniform! Let's put them in the wood oven for a bit, to get some charcoal."
It's not all about heat, though. Pete's Poke ($27) is a healthy kimchi and brown rice take on the Hawaiian raw fish trend.
So why is Bob just a pop-up and not the permanent restaurant that the Three Blue Ducks crew planned?
"The building has become the heritage-listed in between us signing the lease and getting it going," says LaBrooy. "It was meant to be heritage-listed next year!"
So the original concept - with a proper fit-out, bar area and a street presence on the Dunning Avenue side - is on hold for five months or so.
"It wasn't what we originally envisioned for the space, but yeah. We're really happy with the menu and the food. We're here."
Open daily 7am-4pm (dinner services coming soon).
1/85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, threeblueducks.com