Birdwood Lane was once an unappealing back laneway and an unlikely place for a restaurant and wine bar, however, during the past 12 months it has been given new life as a welcoming, bustling and gorgeous paved laneway, with a connection to the newest North Shore shopping and dining precinct, The Canopy. Little Red Robin, situated on Birdwood Lane, has seen its fair share of dust, mud, trucks, jackhammers and construction workers whilst The Canopy development progressed, and quite surprisingly, during this time this little business grew a loyal customer base and somehow managed to trade through a pretty challenging time, build up a stellar team and refine the business.
Alessandro Nelli & Michelle Warren, owners of LRR, took on this site knowing full well they would trade through the construction, but did it willingly, knowing the future of the location was very bright.
“We did think the major external challenges of our little business were somewhat behind us when the construction was complete, but like any good small business story, it was only about to get more challenging. Bring on COVID-19,” says Michelle.
Fast forward to now – after being shut down for 10 weeks due to COVID-19, Little Red Robin reopened with limited capacity and limited hours and a quality set menu, and thankfully and gratefully retaining their stellar team (thanks to JobKeeper). The newfound world made the team stop and assess. “It gave us opportunity to reflect on where we have been, what we have learnt, to where we are going, and what we really want to be. We looked at the evolution of the business, and because we feel that the hospitality industry is facing an unknown future and is suffering somewhat of an identity crisis, we felt it was essential to be definite on what we want to be, and go for it,” said Alessandro.
Little Red Robin’s team believes that restaurants should be a place where you go for an experience, enjoy articulated dishes that are impeccably executed with quality produce, service that is exceptional, with the experience leaving you wondering ‘should I keep this secret to myself, or shout it out to the world?’
‘We want to bring a unique and interesting culinary experience to the North Shore (plus Sydney really!) but also offer options, so we have decided to introduce a long and short degustation, with beverage pairing as an option, plus a relaxed, casual wine bar menu. We will no longer have a sharing concept with an ‘à la carte’ menu. We want to be able to welcome the patron who would like a quick glass of wine with a delicious snack at the bar before they head home and also offer a long, culinary dining experience as well, and we are excited to bring this experience to our customers,’ said Alessandro.
The menu is daringly innovative and ingenious. Head Chef Alberto Ranalli, whose résumé lists experience at est. Sydney and establishments in London and Bologna, treats his craft with respect and dedication, and will not settle until he is satisfied, carefully designing each dish with focus and his gentle touch, with only the best possible produce. Alberto’s ‘A’ team is made up of Sous Chef Douglas Alvarenga, who gained his stripes from Flavio Federico in Brazil, then at Gelato Messina Creative Department and more recently the acclaimed Porteño, and Andy Buchanan from Quay, Cutler & Co and Dinner by Heston. Think dishes such as Allium Chawanmushi; WA Marron | ‘Nduja XO | Bone Marrow; and Rangers Valley Black Onyx | Koji | Silverbeet, along with sweet treats such as 3yo Gouda | Sherry Caramel | Grapefruit tart and Jerusalem Artichoke | White Chocolate | Almond.
The overall European wine list, and wine and beverage matching for the degustation dining, is adventurous, brave and gutsy and the service is seamless, smooth and well mannered, whilst being friendly and welcoming. Finding the perfect mix of fine dining and casual edginess is a challenge, but Alessandro Nelli believes LRR has the right mix. Plus, with Kyal Whitehorn behind the bar, creating bespoke and delicious cocktails, the experience is just right.
There’s a focus on a sophisticated interior of textures, rich fabrics and strong contemporary colours, matching bespoke and unique stoneware, designed and hand made by artisans Malcolm Greenwood of Malcolm Greenwood Ceramics and Ion Fukazawa plus Darren Stewart of Sydney Woodturning, who has curated and handcrafted the delicate timber bread plates, butter knives, bowls and spoons.
Little Red Robin is open for short or long degustation (short degustation on early sittings only) on Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 6pm, 6.15pm & 6.30pm plus 8.15pm & 8.30pm & 8.45pm and open on Sunday for degustation lunch from 12pm–2pm and wine bar menu until 6pm.
Little Red Robin Restaurant & Wine Bar in Birdwood Lane is opposite The Canopy Lane Cove, a new dining precinct, with over 500 parking spaces available with easy access to Birdwood Lane.
Little Red Robin
02 9418 9529
For menu details and reservations please visit www.littleredrobin.net.au