Charlie Carrington has done it again. The young cooking prodigy blew Melbourne away with Atlas Dining in 2016, and now he’s loosening the tie, ditching the tablecloths and doing his own take on the ‘Big Chef/Little Menu’ trend.
But while Neil Perry and Shannon Bennett decided to open burger bars, Carrington has pitched something a little different. Five international cuisines, five main dishes, five sides and fives drinks, all set to rotate every few months (or until Carrington gets bored). It’s pretty much Atlas in miniature form: artfully arranged plates of colour, made to order and designed to pimp your lunch break.
Let’s start with the launch menu: Israel, Peru, Vietnam, Mexico and Greece. Not a bad ‘round the world buffet right there. Each country comes with its own main and side. You can eat these together, or mix and match to create screwball flavour combos. So, for instance, you might grab the Mexico plate (pulled pork with avocado, corn, black beans and crispy tortilla) then add on a Peruvian side (lamb empanadas), and maybe some fried potatoes with tzatziki and thyme from Greece.
As you’d expect, the flavours as big, bold and chock full of colour (the Grecian plate, in particular, is a work of art—a seared fillet of white fish, surrounded by pickled onions, cucumber and snow-white hunks of feta, drizzled in zingy dressing).
In the cut-throat world of casual fine dining, your drinks menu needs to be swish. It’s not the main event, but it’s part of the ensemble: like pink socks under a Saville Row suit. Carrington has outdone himself here, with tongue-blasting sodas, all made by hand. Our pick? Try the Mexico—a fresh-pressed pineapple soda, kicked with chilli. It’s like being punched by a tropical breeze.
Carrington isn’t really interested in gimmicks. The whole point of Colours is to bring the Atlas food philosophy, and open it up to regular diners. Fresh produce, beautifully presented, showcasing international cuisine at its best. How’s that for colouring outside the lines.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White