Clayton Wells to open A1 Canteen

Author: Emma Breheny
Photography: Nikki To

The casual all-day diner will complement fine-diner Automata.

If, as they say, there's no rest for the wicked, then Clayton Wells must be a villain through and through. Fresh from opening Blackwattle in Singapore, the chef has announced plans for an all-day diner across the lane from his two-star Sydney restaurant, Automata. A1 Canteen, set to open in February or March, will serve casual à la carte food alongside takeaway breakfast and lunch options. Wells' sous-chef at Automata, Scott Eddington, and assistant manager, Rachael Trewin, will be heading up the new 55-seat venue in the Old Rum Store on Kensington Lane in Chippendale.

Roasted flounder with espelette pepper and fried curry leaves

A1 Canteen marks a departure from Wells' fine-dining menus at both Automata and Blackwattle. Those who made it to his brunch pop-up, Auto.lab, late last year have had a sneak preview of what's in store, with Wells keen to bring back favourites like the green eggs and ham or the open omelette with confit garlic and bonito flakes.

"It's a much more pared-back version of what we do," Wells says of A1. "I really enjoyed cooking the food at Auto.lab and I want A1 to be even more casual than that."

While the menus aren't yet finalised, Wells expects to work closely with nearby LP's Quality Meats, sourcing pork sausages, mortadella and other cured meats, some of which will go into sandwiches for those on the go.

Fried eggplant, provolone and romesco sandwich

The sit-in lunch menu will be "short and sweet", with salads that can be had straight up or with slow-roasted meat, perhaps lamb shoulder, while for dinner Wells won't give much away apart from saying the menu will change as often as Automata's. As for influences, Wells says they'll be wide-ranging to reflect the Australian palate: "Automata sometimes leans Asian, but this will have more of a world approach to it."

Roast lamb shoulder with za'atar and tahini yoghurt and a selection of salads

Coffee will come from Single O and an all-day liquor licence is in the works.

Matt Darwon, the designer responsible for Automata, is in charge of the fit-out here, too, with a brief for a Bauhaus-style look focused on clean lines and simplicity.

A1 Canteen, The Old Rum Store, 2-10 Kensington St, Chippendale, NSW. Breakfast and lunch seven days; dinner Tues-Sat.







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