Having been open just a couple of months the buzz is well and truly surrounding Cammeray’s favourite new haunt Wilcox.
The small bar is exactly that, a narrow space that somehow fits the world and its family in relative comfort. The space is utilised to perfection with a cocktail bar that screams Manhattan followed by a cosy kitchen tucked into the left-hand side that we barely noticed, all resting on a seriously solid dark oak floor. Copper is used to accent the slate black tables but also the wait staff’s water jugs.
Taken to the back of the restaurant it is framed with exposed brick walls with a deliberately messy white plaster finish contrasted on one side with a shiny ceramic black tiled wall, the other white and green Victorian style tiles. The menus even feel classy, compact and brown leather bound to match the perfectly neat selection that limits indecisiveness. Co-owner Glenn Stalley explains the philosophy, “We have focused on fresh, simple, seasonal produce.”
For the connoisseur opinion on all things cocktail my wife nodded in approval at the variation on her usual “Extra Dirty Martini” request, the Gin and pickle brine infused “The Filthy Martini”. A selection of craft beers had me instinctively choosing the fulsome Vale India Pale Ale, a successful take on the American tipple.
Opting for the Entrée-Main-Dessert selection for $59 it was hard not to start with Kingfish Carpaccio and Seared Sea Scallops. The generous Carpaccio is zesty, clean and left wanting more of the Beetroot Crisps. The Scallops were light and cooked immaculately. Also highly recommended by the Chef were the daring Squid Ink Risotto and a modern take on the traditional Snapper Fillet.
In a nod to the name’s butcher shop origin I savoured the Cape Crim Beef Fillet for main, two circular, thick pieces of medium rare that melted in your mouth. I even insisted on trying my wife’s Atlantic Salmon Fillet, the black rice, sweet potato, kale and raisins form a partnership. The chocolate fondant oozed across the plate on the top of the raspberry caramel left me wishing I had not shared it so easily.
As we leave at 9pm the bar is noisy but not defeating, the copper filament globe lighting fueling the peak in energy. Stalley believes the wave of interest and early success are no accident, “Cammeray and the North shore as a whole were starved of great food in a great atmosphere. There’s an underlying pent up need for places like Wilcox.” So far Wilcox is feeding this desire with an expectation more will follow their pioneering footsteps shortly.