Automata – Extraordinary Food

Automata – Introduction

Automata is a sleek yet charming restaurant in the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale serving absolutely delicious food overseen by talented chef Clayton Wells.

Clayton has assembled talented staff for both the kitchen and the front-of-house. Clayton and his team turn out the beautiful food, the dining room is supervised by professional and solicitous staff anxious for you to enjoy the atmosphere and the food. The wine list is very strong and the matches with the food can be relied upon.
We have only eaten here four or five times, but on each occasion we were delighted with the food, the drinks and the service.

Automata – The Food and Wine

On our most recent visit two beautiful, small snacks were first sent out. A small wedge of cos lettuce brushed with oyster emulsion and sprinkled with chopped chives combined crunch, cream and visual appeal. Next to it on the plate a small bundle of enoki was wrapped in a thin slice of wagyu tongue that had been napped with a scrumptious miso cream.

Automata: Small snacks

Next came Tasmanian cherries given a savoury treatment with a gentle touch of fermentation, dehydrated mustard, mustard oil and onion cheeks. This was a clever and delicious dish and was perfect with a Panevino rosé.

Fermented Tasmanian Cherries
Fermented Tasmanian Cherries

This Sardinian wine made by baker and winemaker Gianfranco Manca is one of our ‘go to’ wines when we see it on a wine list because it is very flexible and matches well with dishes based on vegetables and fermented flavours. The flavour leaps out of the glass due to the careful organic farming and the natural fermentation and low sulphur levels in the wine.

Next came a dish of kingfish bathed in yuzu and crème fraiche, then topped with thin slices of tart plum and caper skins. It looked almost too good to eat! The flavour combination was a winner.

Kingfish in Yuzu
Kingfish in Yuzu under Plum Slices with Caper Skins

And the next dish was an absolutely stunning mix of red, brown and green. The colours verged on unreal and there was a touch of unreality about the dish too. The red (now purple) cabbage is the ‘steak’ braised in sauerkraut juices and the meat (smoked venison) is the garnish. The green is predominately parsley and anchovy. Brilliant!

Purple Cabbage Steak
Purple Cabbage “Steak”

Dessert was a pumpkin seed sorbet sitting over a mound of blackberries which, in turn, sat on a peach and sherry caramel. This provided a refreshing end to a very satisfying and exciting meal.

Pumpkin seed sorbet on blackberries
Pumpkin seed sorbet on blackberries

We visit Automata often as it provides the type of food we seek out more and more these days. It relies on the intelligent use of interesting ingredients from the fruit and vegetable families with occasional forays into proteins, but often with the proteins playing a support role such as with the brilliant cabbage dish we were served on this occasion (described above) where the smoked venison was grated and presented as a garnish rather than the hero of the dish.

It is also not a “Ferris Wheel” restaurant. This is the name we give to those restaurants where there are just too many snacks at the start and too many mignardise at the end and you feel like you are on a Ferris Wheel, unable to get off. We always leave Automata feeling deeply satisfied with our meal and certainly not hungry but also not bloated!

We would also like to present a photo from an earlier meal we thoroughly enjoyed at Automata, because it appeared so simple but was so packed with flavour and just so balanced. We think it looks good too!

Grapes, yuzu, dried shiso, wakame
Grapes, yuzu, dried shiso, wakame

Additional information

Street: Old Clare Hotel, 5 Kensington St

Town/Suburb: Chippendale, 2008

Town/Suburb: Sydney

Phone number: +61 2 8277 8555

Opening hours: Check due to current pandemic lockdown

You can find out more about this great restaurant on their Web site:

Automata Web Site