Tim Holmes à Court, Daimon Downey (Pelicano Bar) and Kate McMahon (Catalina) are just a little excited about their latest project, The Lemon Tree. Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, Australia Square, the gorgeous bar/restaurant brings a Positano vibe to the surrounding concrete jungle. “Because let’s be honest, Italians do it better”, explains Holmes A Court. “We wanted to create a dining experience that exudes the essence of a modern take on Italian style.”
“Tim, Daimon and I had been talking about starting a restaurant together for some time”, says McMahon. “The Australia Square site became available, and instantly we all saw the potential. The Harry Seidler building is iconic to say the least and we were excited about carrying some of the design features down to our space in Australia Square.”
On offer at the 150-seat venue is Southern Italian fare under the guidance of Head Chef, Peter Streckfuss (previously of Catalina, Rose Bay), classic Italian-inspired cocktails and an accessible wine list featuring an Italian selection of 10 whites and 10 reds. Mumm is the exclusive champagne pour and Peroni the only beer and on tap. McMahon recommends that everyone should try a Lemon Tree Martini with Absolut Vodka, Limoncello and fresh lemon juice, paired with a plate of calamari; flashed fried and tossed with garlic, chilli and olive oil. “Yum”, she declares.
Interior designer Tamsin Johnson was tasked with composing the space. “We talked to Tamsin about creating a neutral space, something light and fresh with a splash of the Amalfi Coast”, says McMahon. “We wanted a little Italian oasis in the middle of the city, lemon trees and all. I couldn’t be happier with the final result.”
Johnson cleverly created the Mediterranean escape using a mostly white palette with pops of pink and yellow. The space features a fabulous pink terrazzo bar and custom designed citrus tiles imported from the Amalfi. “Daimon and Tim made a trip to Italy just after we decided to go ahead with The Lemon Tree. When Daimon was in Positano, he found a custom tile maker and came back with the idea of featuring our own design of tile throughout the space.
From there Tamsin was in contact with ‘Ceramica Assunta’ and they came up with a beautiful design that incorporated and featured lemons – how fitting! I believe since then this particular tile has been named after Tamsin”, says McMahon.
“Personally I think it’s beautiful. When you sit down in the dining room you feel like you’re no longer in the middle of the city, but instead you’re transported to a coastal oasis”.
“We had the terrazzo custom made to fit our bar, back bar and bar seating area in the dining room”, explains McMahon. “We had lots of discussion over the colour. Initially we thought we wanted a paler pink, but when we saw this particular pink we all knew that it would work and add more impact to the space.”
Warm, amber lighting adds to the relaxed vibe. “Because the space is so bright, and the Harry Seidler-esque lights are a feature, we needed lighting that would be effective even in the middle of the day”, explains McMahon.
McMahon nominates the custom-made tiles as her favourite design element in the new venue. “The tiles that feature on our skirting, managers station and our banquette area are so incredibly beautiful. They add a much needed pop of colour.”
The Lemon Tree
Corner Pitt & Bond St
Monday to Friday, 12pm – midnight.