“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use, do the work you want to see done.” Austin Kleon
In Surry Hills one guy is reinventing the idea of the evening meal by opening his space for a weekly gathering of friends & strangers. So grab yourself a seat, pass the wine & pitch in because this is neighbourhood dining at it’s very best.
There are thousands of normal restaurants in Sydney. This is not one of them.
My partner and I together with a friend came up with idea of a brand new approach to neighbourhood dining. We set up this restaurant in Surry Hills . . based on the idea of a neighbourhood supper where local people come & pay a modest set fee to dine at the communal tables. The idea behind this project is to create a completely new experience in the dining market. Bucking the trend fancy restaurants & one hat wonders, this is family-orientated communal neighbourhood dining at its best. The restaurant is housed at 182 Campbell St in Surry Hills, in a building owned by Hope St, a local Surry Hills charity. 10% of the takings each night go to Hope St to support them in the work that they do with less fortunate people in the Surry Hills area.
It’s called Table for 20.
The restaurant side is run by Michael Fantuz. As is his specialty, the food is festive Italian with a twist. Fantuz is a man who clearly loves his food and can constantly be seen running up and down tables dishing out a vintage olive oil or rare Buffalo Mozzarella or even a plum mustard which we enjoyed on the night we were there. The food is undoubtedly exceptional, but unlike other restaurants, Fantuz shuns the idea of food reviewers and would instead prefer them to come & make a contribution to the mission. “I have no need for fancy hats or stars” Fantuz says, “I’ve finally found an opportunity to do what I love and help out people along the way.”
The $40 – $50 meal includes three courses – a starter, main and dessert. If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive on one of the nights where Michael’s mother has been commissioned to create her famous homemade Tirimisu. It’s certainly worth the wait!
Anyone who lives in Sydney will agree there’s no shortage of good restaurants but the one thing the 2010 area was really lacking was somewhere low key where you can just come and have a feed, open a bottle of wine, meet a few people and have a laugh. Sometimes people get so caught up in their day-to-day lives that they just stick to their immediate groups because that they have time for. Social isolation or social poverty is a symptom of the times we live in.
So Table for 20 is a weekly gathering of friends and strangers, locals in your hood. It also throws open the doors for a few of the Hope Street guys who would not normally have the opportunity for a night out at a restaurant. It gives them a chance to interact with other locals from the neighbourhood, and feel part of the wider community.