Reports of Neil Perry’s retirement from the restaurant industry have proven to be greatly exaggerated, with the chef confirming he’ll open a restaurant in Sydney’s Double Bay mid-year. The launch is a first in Perry’s 40-odd year career – it will be the first restaurant he has owned solo.
“It’s 100 per cent me, the house is on the line,” he says. The venture is outside the orbit of Rockpool Dining Group, which controls the stable of restaurants he sold. “I remain a shareholder, so I’ve still got a vested interest there, and I’ll continue to promote and mentor.”
While Perry says he can’t replicate his signature restaurants, a Rockpool or Spice Temple was never part of the plans for postcode 2028. He describes the yet-to-be-named eatery – which will open in May or June – as “a simple little local restaurant”.
“It’ll be my first time back in a neighbourhood since the Blue Water Grill days at Bondi,” says the chef, who built a CBD-heavy presence in Australian capital cities.
The 170-seat restaurant will lean heavily on plant-based dishes and salads during the day, and while there will be plenty of food off the grill, he stresses it isn’t a steakhouse.
“It’s my food – for want of a better word, ‘modern’ Australian,” he says.
Perry is headed into the Pallas House development, next door to the Royal Oak Hotel, a move he denied last October because, he explains, he hadn’t yet signed a lease.
An impressive double act will tackle the interiors. ACME (Mimi’s, the Grounds) will craft the space with designer David Caon, who impressed Perry with his interiors for the Qantas 787 Dreamliner.
“I’m really looking forward to feeding the people, maybe sitting at the bar with a glass of wine. I think I’m done with [opening] fine diners.”
But with Perry, never say never.