Fire dominates at Firedoor. It entirely powers the kitchen, imbuing the food cooked here with particular intensity. Of course, much depends on the type of wood used, which is carefully chosen with each dish in mind. Wood is basically an ingredient in its own right. There’s apple wood, which burns hot but without excessive flame and is sweet-smelling, making it perfect for fish and shellfish. Grapevines, which Firewood sources from its wine suppliers, and burns with a rich scent that’s the ideal partner for red meats and game. And on the list goes, encompassing native Australian woods like Ironbark, fruit trees like orange and pear, wine barrels, roots and more. It’s clever, it’s sustainable, and it’s a technique that’s served them well – the food at Firedoor is damn good.
For a kitchen that’s entirely powered by flame and fire, there’s a marked subtlety at work in many of the dishes. The menus are decided daily, putting emphasis on not just seasonality but on Australian ingredients in particular. And ones that are incredibly fresh – meat is cut and seafood is pulled from the tank to order. There’s freshly-baked bread, served with smoked butter. Marron with juicy finger limes and native herbs. 161-day dry aged rib of beef that’s marbled and massive and cooked on the bone, lending it a deep, booming beefy intensity. Red cabbage with verjus and crème fraiche. What may sound simple on the page is masterful at Firedoor.
That’s thanks to Head Chef Lennox Hastie. British-born and with a career littered with Michelin-starred experience, Hastie honed his skills around the world. But it was his time at Etxebarri in the Basque mountains that shaped him and what Firedoor became. Today, Firedoor is the only solely wood-fired restaurant in Australia, which is enough on its own to stand out from the crowd. But Firedoor is so much more than the fuels that fires it – it’s an unmissable dining experience that offers a unique taste of Australian cuisine.
And it’s a beautiful restaurant, to boot. One in which wood, unsurprisingly, plays a large part. Thick logs line the huge windows that flood the space with light. The open kitchen is separated from the sweeping dining room, much of which is filled with family-style tables, by a counter of warm wooden planks. Juxtaposed against all that grain is the sleekness of the metal kitchen and the boxy metal light fixtures, the warmth of the deep, dark upholstery. It’s an elegant space, one that’s unapologetic for its fiery nature. And long may it roar.