When Paper Bird restaurant closes its doors on August 3, it’ll join an alarming number of high-profile restaurants calling it quits in Sydney this winter.

Like many of the departees, the one-hatted restaurant seemingly had it all – industry-wide good reviews, awards, an all-day menu offering, talent in the kitchen, polish on the floor and a site in busy Potts Point.

Any number of reasons are being dished out for Sydney’s restaurant crisis. Oversupply, consumer belt-buckling, high rents, escalating utility bills, the lock-out laws, wage costs and opportunity-cost. Take your pick.

Shrimp-brined fried chicken from Paper Bird.
Shrimp-brined fried chicken from Paper Bird. Photo: Christopher Pearce

“There’s a few reasons, but inconsistent trade is the biggest,” says Paper Bird co-owner Ben Sears. “It’s probably not a coincidence that there’s been half a dozen fairly high-profile closures in Sydney the last month or two.”

It has been a tough year for Sydney restaurants, with the Bridge Room, Sotto Sopra, Longrain, Billy Kwong, ACME and Oscillate Wildly either closed or closing.

They are closing for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is Sydney will be poorer for the departures.

Paper Bird’s unique modern riff on the flavours of Korea, China and Japan – and arguably Sydney’s most creative brunches – is a loss for the city.

The looming shake-up of the city’s established hatted restaurants appears sadly set to also include a rising star.

Natalia Gaspari, Peter Conistis’ talented lieutenant at Alpha, wowed the critics and picked up a toque in her first year at Ble Restaurant in Ramsgate.

Now Gaspari has packed her bags and left town, Ble shutting its doors.

The queen of lobster and haloumi ravioli says “the (working) partnership didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped it would” and has relocated to Melbourne, where she plans to open her own restaurant.

A sign on the Ble shopfront says it’ll reopen, but Gaspari says she won’t be in the kitchen as part of any reboot of the space.