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Joy to the world - co-founder Tim Scott's head-turning new restaurant

The Weekend Edition

Before Metro Arts moved into its new digs across the river, its home on Edward Street was a hive of artistic expression – from the visual to the theatrical. This week, the basement space beneath the heritage building will become home to art once again.

 

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This time, however, it will be largely edible. Exhibition Restaurant, the brainchild of acclaimed culinary maestro Tim Scott, looks to imbue every aspect of its operation – from the food and décor to its tableware – with an element of artistic flair.

This eagerly anticipated restaurant, which officially opened on Tuesday June 7, is shaping up to be one of the stand-out debuts of the year. Here’s what you can expect …

Exhibition Restaurant started as a playlist. When Tim Scott stepped away from Joy. (the acclaimed ten-seater that he co-founded with Sarah Baldwin) in 2019, the first thing he did when putting thought toward his next venture was to create a mix. It started with ‘F.U.Y.A.’ by French group C2C, a slick slice of technical turntablism that builds a song from scratch out of disparate samples and sounds.

As far as starting points go, it was eerily prognostic. Much like the track, Exhibition is an agglomeration of many things, but it differs in that each piece – every tiny detail – can all be attributed to Tim’s eclectic tastes and singular vision.

Exhibition’s home (a semi-subterranean space beneath 109 Edward Street, the former home of Metro Arts) has been purposefully conceived, mapped and constructed as a setting for more than just dining – think something along the lines of an immersive intersection of art, design and food with multi-sensory escapism as its overarching goal.

Tim’s detail-oriented approach to Exhibition’s look and feel is plainly evident long before a dish has been placed in front of you. Guests descend into the restaurant’s moody dimly lit space via an entrance in the building’s street-facing lobby, with complex ribbons of calligraffiti (applied by North Nights) adorning the entrance stairwell’s curved ceiling.

Downstairs, the atmosphere is intimate but electric. The interior layout – divided neatly between the main 24-seater dining room and ten-seater wine bar – has been devised by Tim, with his meticulous hand-drawn floor plans executed to the millimetre.

The restaurant makes great use of the building’s existing heritage elements, contouring the large load-bearing timber beams and exposed brick with a colour palette of blues, greys and brass, as well as contemporary fittings like leather banquettes, luxe light fixtures and a fetching architectural mural applied by JORDACHE.

Exhibition’s beating heart is the open kitchen, where Tim and his team can be seen busily crafting the evening’s epicurean offerings. Pressed against the kitchen’s matte-black wall and ceiling is the eatery’s showpiece – a custom hibachi charcoal grill, its licks of flame casting shadows across the room.

The final layer of detail is showcased through Exhibition’s extensive range of serving ware. Tim has collaborated with a cadre of artisans to create the custom elements that ferry each artfully prepared morsel from pass to patron. Throughout dinner, guests will spy pink, white and peach plates from Rebel Art Creations, large calligraffiti-coated ceramic plates from Commons, serving ware from Shutupandrelax Ceramics, ceramic sake cups from Box.Ho Pottery, and custom hand-forged cutlery from Kinnow Cutlery.

These thoughtfully designed items, many of which boast delicate textures and interesting shapes, add a tasteful touch to the experience – a tactile element geared towards elevating each bite in the presentation stakes.

Speaking of food, Tim has also gone to great lengths to secure partnerships with some of the region’s best growers, snagging uncommon ingredients for Exhibition’s ever-evolving menu. “I want people to see new products and get more ingredients on a menu than they would normally be able to experience,” says Tim. “There aren’t many places where you can get lobster, abalone, crab and wagyu all on the same menu at these prices.”

To that end, Tim has linked up with esteemed suppliers like Neighbourhood FarmThai Hoa GrocerBoonluck Farm and Loop Growers to source the essential fodder for Exhibition’s regular and premium set-menu offering. Here, Tim is drawing inspiration from Japanese-style kaiseki, executing a multi-course experience wherein each wave of food consists of a hero item plus several smaller dishes intended to be eaten as accompaniment or as complimentary bites.

A course of appetite-whetting snacks features the likes of sashimi scampichurros with sturgeon caviarabalone liver parfaitpork and pepperberry salami and Abrolhos Islands scallops with shellfish oil. From there the portions get more substantial – Southern rock lobster with tomato, ruby grapefruit and ponzu is followed by Hervey Bay mud crab with hikari miso, abalone and sweet potato, roasted duck crown with beetroot in a duck dashi masterstock, and wagyu yakiniku with sweet and sour cherry, sugarloaf and black truffle.

Exhibition’s beverage program features a short list of wine from small ethically-minded producers, spirits and sake. A concise cocktail list (which also boasts non-alcoholic options) takes cues from the kitchen, with the use of shrubs, infusions and ingredients brainstormed alongside the kitchen team to ensure comparable complexity and a complementary nature.

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