The endless bummer that is 2020 has thrown many industries into disarray, perhaps Australia’s hospitality industry chief among them. As restaurants, cafes and bars evolve and adapt in the aftermath of COVID-19, a silver lining is beginning to emerge around the dark cloud of sorry circumstances that has hung over our heads for months. Like many hospitality operators, Alanna Sapwell and Danielle Gjestland have ample cause to curse the year they’ve had. Instead of lamenting on things that are out of their control, they’re channelling their energies into new a culinary concept that will spotlight Queensland produce and use exceptional cuisine to put smiles back on dials. When the pandemic paused Danielle’s plans to sell Wasabi Restaurant & Bar and move to Japan, she reached out to Alanna with a proposition – decamp to Noosa and host a pop-up restaurant inside Wasabi’s waterfront locale. Interested in the prospect of returning to her coastal roots, Alanna agreed and soon plans were in motion for Esmay, a forthcoming pop-up restaurant that will inhabit Wasabi for three months starting from Wednesday July 15.
Esmay will deliver a constantly evolving set menu featuring dishes assembled from of-the-moment, hyper-seasonal produce sourced from within the region. Wasabi’s own Honeysuckle Hill Farm will provide many of the ingredients featured in Esmay’s menu, while other small producers (including a local fisherman who delivers fresh catches directly to Wasabi’s own pier) will contribute highlight components. Although the menu will morph regularly based on what’s available, Alanna may include dishes such as crispy mountain potatoes with nettle and truffle, crab-and-coral toasties, local flathead served with chestnut mushrooms and warrigal greens, and Bendele Farm organic spatchcock with black garlic and bread sauce. Esmay’s wine list features a curated selection of juicy drops to sip, with a healthy mix of international and Australian wines divided into groups like textural whites, aromatic whites, light reds, robust reds, rosé and sparkling.
If you think a trip to Noosa is on the cards, you can book a table at Esmay right now. The pop-up will operate from Wednesday to Saturday from 5:00 pm, and for Sunday lunch from 12:00 pm.