Cover Photo: Kaarla Restaurant & Bar

With an urban farm just outside its doors and a view of the city from 51 floors up, Kaarla Restaurant and Bar is one sustainable restaurant you cannot miss

If the war between Ukraine and Russia has taught us anything, it is that we need to be able to be resourceful and ensure that our own food sources are locally produced and sufficient.

Should countries such as Indonesia stop the export of palm oil or if Malaysia decides to stop sending fresh chickens our way, we need to be ready to feed our population and more restaurants, including the newly opened Kaarla Restaurant and Bar, are beginning to understand that. 

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With stunning skyline views and the world’s highest urban farm perched just beyond its doors, Kaarla is a gastronomic feat that is creative, innovative and very sustainable. 

In fact, Kaarla, as well as Oumi, which it shares a space with, both believe strongly in responsible and sustainable sourcing as well as in ensuring that they use their knowledge and experience to creatively make use of every single element of the produce they include in their dishes. 

Kaarla meaning ‘where the home fires burn’, is a restaurant and bar that puts the spotlight on coastal Australian produce that, of course, is rich with fresh seafood and agriculture.

This is reflected in its comprehensive yet thoughtful menu which highlights native ingredients used by Australian First Nations Aboriginal people and that has become synonymous with Australian culture over the years. 

At the helm is executive chef John-Paul Fiechtner, an Australian with over 20 years of global experience in the culinary world. Fiechtner, who grew up on a farm in rural Queenstown, is known for his respect for the land, its custodians and its produce. The restaurant is clearly his love language to his home. 

 

ON THE MENU

We begin with Australian market oysters, which are shucked upon order and drizzled with a subtly sweet house-fermented fig leaf and oyster plant vinegar to complement its brininess. This makes for the perfect starter before moving on to something so quintessentially Australian, kangaroo. 

The salt-cured kangaroo is served with house-cured salt to draw out its natural flavour. It is then topped off with grainy black barley, anchovies, shiro dashi, finger limes, as well as greens and flowers from their own garden. This is one of those dishes that you absolutely must try when coming to Kaarla (don’t worry, the meat is healthy and lean).

As much of Australian cuisine goes, a lot of the dishes are meant to be shared communally, so you don’t have to worry about over ordering when you try one of our personal favourite dishes on the menu, the octopus. The dish sees wild-caught grilled Fremantle octopus tentacles that have been cooked in butter smoked leeks and served up with pickled boabs. The chewy tentacles are addictive and provide a contrasting texture to the other dishes.

Another masterpiece on its appetisers menu is its closed-loop salad, which is the epitome of Kaarla’s sustainable approach to food. Using ingredients that have been sourced from the food forest, Kaarla ensures that only what is in season is used in the fresh salad that they toss with fermented calamansi juice, tiger nut curd and pickled daikon. 

We move on to the mains where highlights on the menu include its King Island aged beef that has been aged for 35 days, prepared over the wood-fired grill and served with fresh herbs and greens from the food forest. 

If you are looking for something lighter, the Murray cod that has been farmed in Victoria is your best bet. The fish is quickly salt brined before it is steamed and finished in the wood oven for a light but decadent bite. 

As the food is meant to share, you can’t miss its pumpkin dish. Blue pumpkin, which has been grown in the food forest, is cooked skin-on on residual health from the coals for about 12 hours before it is rested on a bed of eight-month-old pumpkin seed miso and goat feta. The texture of the pumpkin complements the meat dishes well and provides a sweet and mellow alternative to the other richer mains. 

Finally, we conclude with a dessert menu that features an incredible selection of sustainable and (mostly) healthy sweet treats. Its famous one though is its Arden grown tiger nut ice cream with tigernut nougatine, white chitoise, corn calamansi jelly and poached oranges.

The dessert is a lovely play on textures and tastes with the bittersweet oranges contrasting beautifully with the jelly and raw white Chitose corn.

As a sustainable restaurant, Kaarla is thorough and vigorous in its attempts to remain sustainable. It even trickles down to its beverage programme which focuses largely on wines from Australia as well as low and non-alcoholic drinks. 

For wine lovers, Kaarla features wines from Australia’s top 10 wine regions while ensuring eco-friendly growing principles that use natural and bio-dynamic processes. Cocktails on the other hand make use of herbs from the food forest itself and were created to complement the bold and vibrant flavours of Kaarla’s cuisine. 

If you are cutting back on alcohol or not drinking at all, Kaarla offers up drinks that are made with sophistication and creativity to ensure that you still get all the flavour notes and complexity of an alcoholic beverage. 

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