Skip to content

Woodcut dining at Crown Sydney

Open kitchen stations

Restaurant: Woodcut at The Crown, Sydney | 
Chef: Ross Lusted | 

When we were unable to secure an advanced booking at our local Sixpenny to celebrate Ban-Foo’s birthday back in June 2021, we decided to try something new instead. Surveying what was on offer, we landed on Woodcut located at the newish Crown ‘Resort’ at Barangaroo which had been operating since December 2020. We decided to give it a go destpite not being particularly eager to visit the controversial development, whose casino has still not opened, having continued to be plagued by internal organisation and regulatory issues with the gaming authorities delaying its opening.

Apart from the luxury hotel, this towering waterfront resort features a range of notable high-end bars and restaurants such as a’Mare, Epicurean, Il Caffe, Nobu, Oncore by Clare Smyth, Silks and Yoshii’s Omakase. This wasn’t quite our scene, and we only settled on it mainly for the adventure of experiencing the architecture and potentially comparing it with the Crown in Melbourne.

Woodcut is award-winning chef Ross and Sunny Lusted’s latest culinary venture following their success with The Bridge Room, which we previously enjoyed some years ago. The restaurant’s focus and manifesto (as advertised on their website) is to provide “Sydneysiders with a unique dining experience that celebrates Australian produce and cooking with wood, charcoal and steam. This concept was inspired by Ross and Sunny’s travels and the memories evoked by meals cooked in a slow wood burning oven or over an open fire, and the earthy flavours it creates.”

The environment

The restaurant décor was suitably smart and tastefully contemporary and the whole place was buzzing with feel of a big well-oiled operation. In a large open layout, there were multiple bar areas and three open kitchen stations, looking like they each specialised in a different range of food and cooking method (using either wood, charcoal or steam), each run by separately organised culinary teams.

The kitchen counter experience was in fact one of their selling points, with the website touting this with the following blurb: “Experience the theatre of Woodcut’s open kitchens and enjoy a front row seat to “the show” with counter dining. Immerse yourself amongst the bustling kitchen action as you interact with our Chefs, for a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

We had opted for a counter seat and were seated at a corner of one of these multiple open kitchens, right beside what looked like a grilled meats section where we could observe right in front of us one of the specialised chefs grilling meat on a very hi-tech looking contraption with an open charcoal fire. It had wheels and pulleys which allowed the grilling surface on which the meat sat to be set a varying heights above the charcoal flames below, just to get the precise amount of grilling exposure.

Meeting the chef

Although they offered a tasting menu, we opted for an ala carte selection, having had some nibbles and drinks earlier in the afternoon at a lovely outdoor wedding. And while we waited for our first course to be served after placing our orders, we were graced by the company of Chef Ross Lusted himself, doing his rounds and checking in on his customers. He saw us intrigued by the impressive grilling machine and explained that it had come all the way from the USA.

The place was packed, being the Queen’s birthday long weekend. However, due to unexpected cold weather, the semi-outdoor area by the water had to remain shut. As a result we were told that they had to contend with a significant reduction in capacity which was a shame for a busy long weekend.

Every one of the dishes was excellent; made with fresh and quality produce, well balanced, well cooked and well presented… with a smile. As with any counter dining experience, much of your focus on the meal is conditioned by what you see unfolding in front of you. We were at once impressed with the level of dedication and discipline that goes into preparing every dish, with a dedicated person ensuring it meets with the in-house kitchen standards, supervised by a senior. The two chefs in front of us were pleasant, smiled a lot and we even managed to chat with them briefly when they we momentarily unpreoccupied preparing something or setting out a dish.

My personal favourite was our choice of dessert. The ‘perfumed fruit’ dish comprised an assortment of fresh longan, persimmons, mandarin and guava sorbet doused in a fragrant syrup. It was refreshing, not too sweet or heavy and was the perfect way to cleanse the palate after some meaty dishes and to end a lovely meal.

On the whole it was a very pleasant and satisfying experience. So, will we go back there again? Perhaps. But not in a hurry, especially when there’s so many other equally excellent options in Sydney’s diverse and ever-changing and ever-fickle dining landscape. At the prices involved, and despite every effort to personalise the service and experience we’d probably prefer something a little more intimate and less “corporate”.

Relevant Links

Chef Ross Lusted – photo from Istragram


All photos by Selwyn Lemos and Ban-Foo Leong