There’s a farm in Camperdown, the inner city suburb that neighbours Newtown in Sydney’s inner west. An abandoned bowling club has become the cities hottest new farm to table project. Acre Farm and eatery
This is more than just a restaurant/ cafe / bar though it’s a community project with the “Commons” and growing area surrounding the 350 seat restaurant being run by Pocket City Farms, whose aim is to turn vacant inner city land into food producing pockets. The entire space is purposefully used divided into restaurant space, community common rooms for hire, a takeaway coffee area and of course the plants that not only supply the cafe but also offer a community food forest, a chicken coop, a greenhouse and a community composting program. Open since July 2016, there are already yoga classes to attend, and tutorials for growing your own food and a kids playground. The crops are grown using organic methods and are abundant enough to supply the restaurant as well as being sold via a farm stand.
If you are like me you probably want to know what the food is like. I am not much of a gardener, I’m an eater.
The restaurant has a light airy Scandi appeal. Light coloured wooden floors, bare wooden tables, clean looking. This is no grungy farmhouse, it’s light with windows that fold back and open all around. With such a large space there is also a choice of ways you can enjoy it. Try sitting up at the bar or watching the kitchen, grabbing a table with comfy banquettes or perching on a high stool around a large table with your besties. There are the obvious comparisons here with The Grounds of Alexandria and Three Blue Ducks but we love the country feel and it is solidly packed already. It has one thing over those places though, YOU CAN BOOK!.
Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday, breakfast is served only on the weekend on the Terrace. On any other day you may be likely to eat lunch while watching the passing parade of willing workers tilling the soil in wide brimmed hats. The lunch and dinner menu are similar and overseen by ex Jamie Oliver Chef, Gareth Howard. Most of the ingredients are sourced locallly or within the Sydney basin. In time more produce will come from the garden.
The big bustling open kitchen is turning out rustic sounding food served on equally rustic looking Peter Gordon hand made plates. The menu begins with $6.50 for bread and butter and although I didn’t have any of this I was offered it with no explanation so we assume it is made in house. The waitress takes great pains to tell us that this is food for sharing and as we are here for lunch we find an easy choice of the three salads on the list. So we skip the potted fish and the cauliflower fritti and the charcuterie plate and a wonderful sounding hummus that would be great for a bar snack. Our first choice the Acre Salad with beetroot hummus, grains of farro and lentils with tiny bits of eggplant and chilli, $16. Is a nice mix of fresh and chewy with a base of hummus and beetroot, avocado, herbs and nuts and that darned Kale that I so famously hate.
A Grilled octopus salad with beetroot leaves, wild rice, coriander ( in the form of a pesto)$ 17, had lovely flavour and was dressed so that the rice was not as dry as wild rice has a tendency to be. The octopus was particularly soft and we fought over the last sliver.
A wedge of pumpkin seems to be the most successful sharing dish. Roast pumpkin with ricotta and hazelnut crumble $13. There isn’t a great deal of ricotta but there is an abundance of seeds and nuts and it is utterly delicious. The larger dishes seen being ferried to to the tables around us look equally abundant with frills of leaves and vegetables but none look like really great sharing food. The roast Porchetta $62 is the pick for sharing .
We share a side dish of shallow fried dish of Brussels Sprouts with a yoghurt dressing $9 and the list includes fat chips $10 and maple roasted baby carrots $11. The mostly Australian and New Zealand wine list includes a few wines by the glass. and bottles at quite reasonable prices. Cocktails start at around $16.
We feel quite relaxed here and linger on well past lunch time ordering a Rhubarb frangipane, orange blossom, labneh $12 , a deconstructed almond cake with Rhubarb and labneh I enjoyed even though there were complaints at the table about it being a lazy dessert. I like lazy desserts. A Baked blood orange cheese cake with Italian meringue $14 was not overly orange-y even with the Jelly top. ( I think they need Redbelly Citrus blood Oranges) but I loved the Italian meringue idea.
Acre Farm and Eatery staff are friendly but there are some confusing moments. Still, where else can you eat at a Farm in the inner city? I really like this place and I like booking.
This meal was independently paid for . Acre Farm and Eatery, 31 A Mallet Street Camperdown