Firedoor, it’s an interesting name for a restaurant isn’t it. Housed in an old fire station perhaps? Or are there traces of a fire long ago that danced through the premises? No, Firedoor is the perfect name for a restaurant where everything is cooked with fire.
There isn’t a gas line to Firedoor’s kitchen, nor will you find an electric oven. Instead you will find a selection of woods like pecan, orange, apple, ironbark and olive. They use 13 different wood types in total at Firedoor, all adding their own distinct smoky flavours to the dishes.
Lennox Hastie is the fire obsessed chef behind Firedoor. He honed his skills cooking over the open flame at Etxebarri in the Spanish Basque Mountains as sous chef to Victor Arguinzoniz. During the five years that Hastie spent at Etxebarri the restaurant earned its first Michelin star, and made the list of the World’s 50 best restaurants.
On his return home, Hastie explored the use of Australian woods with local produce. Along with his partners, The Fink Group, Firedoor rose from the ashes, so to speak.
From the outside you can’t really tell that Firedoor is different from any other restaurant in Sydney. That is until you open the heavy front door and are greeted with the smoky smell of toasted almond brown butter. Well that’s how it smelt to me on entering. What I do find out as our dinner progresses, is the delightful smoky smells that cleanly wafts past your nose keeps changing. At one point I swear I could smell marijuana, but I think it was the olive wood.
Firedoor offer a small cocktail list, which features seasonal cocktails, some being touched fire kissed in one way or the other. Maybe a sprinkling of house smoked salt or a char on a garnish.
We start with the Wood Fired Bread ($8). Get over any carb issues you may have and just order it. A dark smoky crunchy crust, with glorious blackened spots here and there, surrounds a light but chewy sourdough bread. It is served with a house made smoked butter, made with jersey milk that has been smoked by ironbark. For those that aren’t into dairy there is a splash of olive oil you can dip into as well.Squid, Celery, Macadamia, Ink ($25). The squid is tender and only has a minimal of charring, definitely cooked with a tender touch. I believe cooked over the wood from stone fruit.
Grilled Baby Cos, Guanciale, Walnut ($18). The baby cos lettuce is cooked over apple coals and has a delicate smoky flavour and some lovely charred bits. The Guanciale (cured pork jowl) is tissue paper thin and draped over the cos, adding a hint of richness. A sprinkling of walnuts add crunch and I feel a nice addition considering the use of apple wood.
King George Whiting, Fennel, Rocket ($45). On first sight you think it is a whole fish, but is in fact one fillet with the head as garnish. This actually got me thinking, do they purchase a surplus of whiting heads for garnishing the plate? I am on the lookout from that moment on to see if anyone orders the whiting around us. Solely to check out if it is served with or without a head.
It’s a simplistic dish, which is cooked over olive coals. The fish tender and juicy with tell tail brown char marks on how it was cooked. It seems that we were one of the lucky ones that received the head on our plate, so I make sure to eat the sweet meat from cheeks of the whiting head.
Ranger’s Valley Black Market Sirloin 350g ($84). The sirloin isn’t cheap, in fact we worked out it is $7 a mouthful and you get around 12 mouthfuls. The steak was cooked medium rare, as it should be, and had the dark caramelised crust that you want on your steak. It was a good steak, but was it worth $84? No. It comes with Garden Leaves, Pickled Onion ($10).
Not normally a dessert person, I am persuaded to give it a go. Dessert by fire, how can you say no to that? Roasted Peaches, Almond & Yoghurt ($18). Peaches roasted over coals and the almond and yoghurt are a semi freddo. The winning dessert is the Banana, Smoked Ganache, Wildflower Honeycomb ($17). The banana is a glorious ice cream and I fall instantly in love with the wildflower honeycomb, and there is such a generous amount of it too. A brilliant dessert recommendation by our server that evening.
There is a chef’s menu on offer for $90/head, and I think this could be the way for a wider experience of the menu. Even though I felt the sirloin was a little pricey, I am keen to go back and try some of Hastie’s other dishes. The menu is forever changing to make the most of seasonal produce. Therefore you won’t see the dishes above on the current menu. Though the banana dessert, bread and salad leaves seem to be firmly placed in the line up of dishes on offer.
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