Perhaps it was inevitable that the Nota crew would open a second restaurant.
Stick that much talent in one Paddington spot – chef-owners Sebastiaan de Kort and Kevin Docherty, restaurant manager and owner Yanika Sittisuntorn, and head chef Matteo Pisanu – and you have an embarrassment of riches in an industry that’s suffering from a nationwide staff shortage.
And the way de Kort tells it, Allonda, a Newstead restaurant that he’ll open with Docherty and Sittisuntorn in early October, is as much about accommodating a growing team as it is creating a new venue. Nota is part of a fresh wave of restaurants and restaurant groups owned by hospitality operators who pride themselves on building healthy working spaces for their staff.
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“We’ve got the three of us and then Ben [Horswell, bar manager], and if all four of us stayed there, we couldn’t really employ anyone else,” de Kort says, laughing. “So we looked at this as an opportunity for the staff, ourselves and our brand.”
But Allonda is also about taking Nota’s reputation, so carefully built in Paddington, and applying it to a new tenancy tucked up a modern laneway just off Longland Street. The restaurant will have space for 90 punters across a main dining floor, a covered al fresco section (with imagery projected against the opposite wall), and a mezzanine bar space that will double as a functions area. Compared to the heritage premises of Nota, Allonda’s fit-out will be all-modern, defined by stucco-like acoustically sprayed walls, concrete floors, a lengthy ground-floor bar that includes a burrata and raw bar, and an open kitchen. Sittisuntorn says it was a change of pace working with a new space, with more freedom to implement their design ideas.
“You’re not coming into an existing space. You’re building it the way you want it to be,” she says. “You can arrange it the way you want, and that’s going to make a massive difference.”
The trio says Allonda’s food will be similar to Nota’s European-inflected menu, but served at a slightly faster pace that’s better suited to Newstead and Teneriffe’s younger dining demographic. Expect house-made pastas, risottos (with one always finished all’onda – Venetian-style, with plenty of broth – which gives the restaurant its name), elevated snacks and high-quality protein. The burrata and raw bar will punch out various burrata dishes, with one matched to caviar, and showcase fresh seafood supplied by Sunnybank Fish Market.
For wines, Sittisuntorn is compiling a 90-bottle wine list that, like Nota’s, will evolve regularly and encourage drinkers to explore new varietals. But she says to expect more approachable drink-now wines and sparklings than at the slightly older-world focused Nota.
“You’re gonna have a lot of weird and wonderful wines,” she says. “For example, you might like a pinot grigio but what do you like about it? Because you might also like these four different varieties that are also from Italy and are similar, but you don’t know anything about them. It’s always a conversation.”
“The list will change as well,” Docherty says. “When we opened Nota, we had maybe 20 bottles on the list. And then we had the locals coming in wanting more old-world wines. It might be different here, with people wanting more pét-nat or more skin contact or what have you.”
“We’ve been working on this for a year,” de Kort says. “Newstead, we’ve always been interested in. It’s a great place and we always thought a restaurant here would be awesome … We’ve got the Olympics to work towards, and we just kind of looked at our careers and went, ‘Right, well, how do we want to get there? What do we want to do?’ We want to build a life for ourselves and our staff who have committed to us, and Allonda is part of that.”
Allonda will open at 17–21 Longland Street, Newstead, in early October.