5. Aurora Restaurant
Light, 63 Light Square, city | 7089 9600 | auroraadl.com.au
Owner: Nick and Sophie Dunstone / Light Social Enterprises
Chef: Brendan Wessels
Price: Small $12-$29, main $28-$42, dessert $14.50-$16.50
Drinks: Substantial list of Australian producers with shared values. Reasonable mark ups.
Open: Lunch Thu-Fri, Sun Dinner Wed-Sat
COVID-induced changes in mindset don’t come much bigger than that of Brendan Wessels. Little more than a year ago, he was pushing meringue mix into a 3D printer and serving sherbet to suck through a fake hundred-dollar bill at the attention-seeking d’Arenberg Cube.
Now he is head chef and chief mentor of Aurora, a restaurant based on an altruistic vision of being nothing less than a circuit-breaker for the industry, a place where ego, prestige and unrealistic expectation are set aside and that the work/life balance can be fair and sustainable. He couldn’t be happier and, my goodness, doesn’t it show.
Wessels is originally from South Africa and one section of his menu is devoted to meats and fish from the “braii” or barbecue. Other plates show a mix of influences– South African, Thai, French and particularly Japanese – all elevated above what is normal by small but significant touches of technical virtuosity. Nothing too flashy – just bloody delicious.