There’s no pigeonholing Atlas Dining. The award-winning restaurant aims to completely reinvent the wheel every four months, offering a changing cuisine that keeps returning customers on their toes.
This innovative approach to dining is the work of Charlie Carrington, a 24-year-old chef. Yes, you read that right. He was born in 1993.
Atlas Dining represents his first foray into the Head Chef role, but with the experience he holds, it’s a wonder he didn’t open his own restaurant sooner. After starting at 15 with an apprenticeship at Stokehouse, Charlie worked his way through some of Melbourne and Sydney’s best kitchens, including Vue De Monde, Marque and Firedoor. He’s also worked overseas, with stints in London, San Francisco, Bangkok and Singapore, finessing his skills and techniques to develop a signature cooking style. His travelling experiences also gave him the inspiration for the name – Atlas Dining.
It’s not just the name these experiences have influenced – in fact, it’s the entire concept. The menu, which changes every four months, rotates through the flavours of the world, and heroes dishes and ingredients from various countries.
These ideas take the form of a five-course set menu, which explores the best of the selected cuisine. A set menu also allows the chefs to showcase the kind of cooking they want and helps reduce waste.
First up is Vietnam. Think crusty baguettes, smoked duck liver parfait butter, squid dishes and a heap of fresh herbs and crunchy vegetables.
Ingredients are cooked on the grills or in the custom-made hearth. In fact, each item is touched by fire in some way, shape or form. This style of cooking was inspired by Charlie’s time at Firedoor – he even had the grills custom made by Firedoor Head Chef, Lennox Hastie.
The beer and wine list follows the changing cuisine. For example, the Vietnamese menu is accompanied by a selection of white wines and some lighter reds. There is also a seasonal selection of cocktails on offer. “The cocktails [move] with the cuisine and match the flavours of what we learn from the country,” said Charlie. This is primarily overseen by Front of House Manager, Anna Riou Labret – with a little culinary help of course!
The amazing food and drink is delivered in an architecturally designed, travel-themed space. Created by Sydney-based architects, Belinda Pajkovic (Bennelong) and Tamara Frangelli from GelliKovic Architects, the venue takes subtle inspiration from the cities that have inspired Atlas Dining. A series of latitude and longitude lines and coordinates on the walls allude to past and future destinations.
While the entire design is beautiful – think salvaged timber, leather-clad banquettes and an open view kitchen – it is the breathtaking brass compass hanging from the ceiling that takes centre stage. This four-metre custom-made feature provides light and points due north, reminding guests they are dining in an atlas of sorts.
This attention to detail in both food and decor has not gone unnoticed – in its first year, the restaurant was awarded a Chef’s Hat by the Good Food Guide, and in 2017 picked up Best New Restaurant at the Time Out Food Awards.
Atlas Dining is truly unique. The celebration of different styles, techniques and flavours from around the world infuses everything from the menu to the design, making it one global experience.
Words by Ashleigh Whitehill | Cat lover. Tea enthusiast. Twitter