Passionate about locally produced boutique wines, Rebecca Littlemore and Al Yazbek found themselves spending most of their free weekends driving to the country to visit wineries and cellar doors.
“Heading back to the city always left us feeling a bit flat, so we thought, why not open a cellar door in the city?” said Al Yazbek.
Nomad balances simple flavours with its boutique all-Australian wine list, set amongst a circa-1900s Surry Hills warehouse comprising the original timber columns and beams, off-form concrete and steel work. Two 100 year old ‘foudre’ – giant wine barrels – stand sentinel at the entry.
“I’m a builder by trade and Rebecca is an architect, so opening a 200 seat restaurant seemed like a logical next step in our careers,” Al said facetiously.
Though gaining recognition for their boutique wine list and cellar door feel, Nomad’s food menu is worth a visit. Using classic techniques such as smoking, curing, pickling, fermenting, drying and utilising a charcoal grill and wood fired oven, Head Chef Nathan Sasi (formerly at Heston Blumenthal’s London restaurant Dinner), oversees the in-house production of everything from cheese and bread to labne and harissa hot sauce.
Nomad’s menu offers a range of Mediterranean-inspired choices divided into snacks, small plates, salads, lamb and pork slow cooked in the wood fired oven, beef and fish cooked over charcoal. The menu is big and ever changing depending on the season and availability from local farmers, with all produce sourced within an hour’s drive of Sydney. The free range heritage pork is sourced from Melanda Park on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, and the fresh goat’s milk used in such dishes as the Goats Cheese Churros, and the cauliflower salad with goats curd comes from Willowbrae Farm, just across the road from Melandra Park.
With almost half of the dishes suitable for vegetarians you don’t have to be a carnivore to enjoy yourself at Nomad. However, a restaurant with its own charcuterie and an oven large enough to slow cook a whole lamb or pig deserves to have their meat options tasted. The Wood-roasted Pork, Silverbeet and Canary Island Potatoes is their signature dish, however vegetarians have the option to enjoy the house-made Jersey milk haloumi with BBQ zucchini, pine nuts & raisins which is fast becoming Nomad’s go-to dish.
Al Yazbek and Rebecca Littlemore’s passion for boutique Australian winemakers sees Nomad’s all-Australian boutique wine list showcase the very best of local grape growers and wine makers who dare to be different – different grape varieties, different wine making techniques – and bottle it up with tonnes of passion. The eclectic nature of the list means that all wines are available by the glass so patrons can taste before they buy – like a cellar door. After ensuring their favourites were on the list, Nomad’s young in-house sommelier was charged with fleshing out the rest and tasted his way through hundreds of wines to get to the final 20 whites and 20 reds. Once a vintage has sold out it is replaced with a new wine that fits in with the Nomad ethos.
At time of printing Nomad is developing their online wine store so that if you love the wine you’ve enjoyed with your meal you’ll be able to buy it on the Nomad website. Just like a cellar door in the city.