Sydney's Automata opens Auto.Lab brunch pop-up at Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale

Don't expect plain eggs and toast at Auto.Lab - the menu includes highly original brunch dishes, such as omelette with ...
Don't expect plain eggs and toast at Auto.Lab - the menu includes highly original brunch dishes, such as omelette with smoked trout, fennel and ricotta. Photo: Nikki To

Congratulations - you can still afford a house in Sydney after going to Auto.Lab, as there's no avocado on toast on the menu.

The new brunch pop-up by two-hatted restaurant Automata opens on Friday in The Old Clare Hotel site vacated by Silvereye (and, conveniently, just around the corner from Automata's Chippendale restaurant). Given how ultra-inventive head chef Clayton Wells' food is, it's not surprising there'll be a cliche-free line-up of dishes to choose from here - from not-so-typical granola with candied citrus, lemon thyme, black sesame and yoghurt to buffalo mozzarella served with ribbons of fermented pumpkin, jamon serrano and a salty hit of capers.

Wells didn't aim to side-step the obvious when deciding what Auto.Lab would serve, though. "I just wanted a menu that I would be happy to eat once a week," he says.

Clayton Wells serves his version of eggs benny with black pudding.
Clayton Wells serves his version of eggs benny with black pudding. Photo: Nikki To

And though he has an acclaim-heavy CV (Wells previously was sous chef at Momofuku Seiobo and was named Chef of the Year finalist in this year's Good Food awards), he's not unfamiliar with early alarm-clock battles as he has done breakfast shifts in hotels before.

So Auto.Lab will offer scrambled eggs and eggs benny, but they're given the Automata twist. "I always order eggs Benedict when I go out for breakfast, so I've enjoyed playing around and am really happy with the version we have on the menu with Kurobuta ham and blood cake," says Wells. "Scrambled eggs with katsuobushi is also a favourite on the menu." In the same vein, there's an omelette, but it's presented with goat's cheese, fennel and a herb salad (with hot smoked ocean trout as an option). And fried eggs come with a surprising serve of holiday memories.

"The fried eggs and Kurobuta ham with Jack Daniels and orange glaze is my after-Christmas breakfast," says the chef.

Buffalo mozzarella, fermented pumpkin and Serrano ham, from the Auto.Lab menu.
Buffalo mozzarella, fermented pumpkin and Serrano ham, from the Auto.Lab menu. Photo: Nikki To

Much of the menu will be made in-house, although there's a little outside help from favourite producers. "There were some things that we're bringing in, because we love the product and can't physically make it ourselves." Such as the pork snags from nearby one-hatted restaurant LP's Quality Meats, which Wells says are "one of the best sausages I've ever tried".

There will also be chefs doing guest takeovers of Auto.Lab, such as Mitch Orr (ACME), Pasi Petanen (Cafe Paci) and O Tama Carey (Berta).

Tim Watkins, who was named Champagne Taittinger Sommelier of the Year in this year's Good Food Awards, will be pouring from a one-page list wine list centred on pet nats and rosé. Plus, the team from This Must Be The Place has put together a cocktail menu that includes a Michelada Verde, Bloody Mary and an Auto.Spritz. But if brunch is too early for booze o'clock to kick in for you, there'll also be Black Radish kombuchas, T Totaler teas and Single Origin coffee to help you power through the day. And for late risers, the lunch menu kicks off from 11.30am, with dishes like roasted Jerusalem artichokes with sunflower seeds and caramelised miso, smoked Holmbrae chicken with green sauce and raw kingfish with crème fraîche, peach and roasted kelp oil.

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Save room also for desserts, which will be an ever-changing rotation of tarts and a pavlova of the day. "We want to keep it simple, nothing too full on - things we can slice, serve and that are delicious. This week, we'll be doing a pavlova with red fruit, plus a plum and almond tart with vanilla creme fraîche."

It all sounds exponentially better than avo on toast.

Open Fri-Sun 9am to 3:30pm, until December 24.

Level 2, The Old Clare Hotel, 1 Kensington Street, Chippendale, 02 8277 8555, automata.com.au/autolab