Smith & Daughters chef Shannon Martinez takes over Sydney’s Alibi Bar & Dining vegan menu

Chef Shannon Martinez launches her first Sydney venture on Wednesday, taking over the plant-based menu at Ovolo Hotel’s Alibi Bar & Dining.

The new-look Woolloomooloo restaurant will offer Sydneysiders a chance to try some stand-out vegan dishes from Martinez’s hatted Melbourne restaurant Smith & Daughters, including cacio e pepe ($25) and traditional Spanish tortilla ($6).

“I’m really looking forward to giving it the Smith & Daughters touch, bringing in some cult favourites that our friends and fans travel across the country for,” Martinez says.

Smith & Daughters chef Shannon Martinez has teamed up with Ovolo to bring her signature dishes to Alibi Bar & Dining.
Smith & Daughters chef Shannon Martinez has teamed up with Ovolo to bring her signature dishes to Alibi Bar & Dining. Photo: Supplied

“[Alibi] has always been a real trailblazer for plant-based food in Sydney, not to mention Australia,” Martinez says. “We’re just taking it up a notch and giving it a little facelift.”

Award-winning interior design and architecture studio Luchetti Krelle have installed a large interior glasshouse with lush greenery and mosaic tiles to create “indoor alfresco dining”.

The restaurant is Martinez’s second collaboration with the hotel group, following the opening of the one-hatted, Latin-focused Lona Misa at Ovolo South Yarra.

The restaurant features a new glasshouse.
The restaurant features a new glasshouse.  Photo: Supplied

New Sydney-only dishes, such as chamomile spaghettini ($27) and summer paella ($35), were developed to complement the Smith & Daughters classics.

“While I’m definitely staying true to the flavours and style of cooking I’m known for, we have introduced some new flavours and a slightly lighter approach,” Martinez says.

“An example of this is the summer paella with salsa verde. Usually, a paella is more robust and on the comforting side, however we’ve taken on Sydney’s vibe and created a vibrant, fresh dish that people will really enjoy.

“Sydney has room for some more plant-based options, especially on this level, so it’ll be great to be a part of this movement.”

Martinez says she has taken years to perfect her vegan dishes, with the tortilla, an egg-based Spanish tapas, presenting a particular challenge.

“Funnily though, it’s the simple things that are the hardest! You don’t have anywhere to hide with the simple items, so you really have to nail them,” she says.

The summer paella with salsa verde is designed for Sydneysiders.
The summer paella with salsa verde is designed for Sydneysiders. Photo: Supplied

“[The Spanish tortilla] only has three ingredients, but when the usual ingredients are 80 per cent non-vegan, you’re very exposed.

“Growing up on this dish, it was really important for me to get it right. It might be the simplest dish but it’s the one I’m most proud of.”

With Martinez based in Melbourne, the menu will be executed by chef Jiwon Do, formerly of Hippopotamus Restaurant & Bar in Wellington.

As well as its menu, the hotel restaurant's interior has been overhauled.
As well as its menu, the hotel restaurant’s interior has been overhauled.  Photo: Supplied

Creative drinks director and former Maybe Sammy mixologist Andrea Gualdi has created a cocktail menu inspired by Mediterranean travel destinations such as Palermo, Cannes and Valencia. There’s also an extensive menu of highballs, craft beers and non-alcoholic options.

Smith & Daughters chef Shannon Martinez has teamed up with Ovolo to bring her signature Latin fare to Alibi Bar & Dining at Woolloomooloo. Pics feature creative drinks director Andrea Gualdi (pink blazer) and executive chef Jiwon Do (black top). Individual dishes are summer paella, cacio e pepe and quince-filled doughnuts. 

Cacio e pepe is a Shannon Martinez signature dish. Photo: Supplied

The scoop

Good Food asked Martinez and Gauldi how to make the most of a visit to Alibi Bar & Dining Room…

Which three dishes would you recommend ordering?

Martinez: 1. Cacio e pepe is a real standout. The original dish is basically just butter and cheese, [but] we made it vegan. It is so delicious and I’m really proud of it.

2. The tiramisu ($18): It’s just one of those dishes I can’t take off the menu at S&D, and I imagine it’ll be the same here. When I announced on Instagram that I’m coming to Sydney as part of the Alibi relaunch, the most asked question from my followers was “Are you bringing the tiramisu!?”

3. I can definitely see the chamomile spaghettini being a big hit. This is a pasta dish that’s cooked in chamomile tea, meaning the spaghettini soaks up these incredible flavours. The dish also features summer squash, saffron and a ricotta made from almonds – a beautiful summer dish for the Sydneysiders!

What’s your go-to drink order?

Gualdi:I’d recommend The Lord of Modena – it’s a beautiful and elegant take on a traditional Martini, with a touch of balsamic vinegar glaze from Modena.

For something on the lighter side, the Palermo Vibez is a refreshing rum-based cocktail that includes seasonal fruits and is presented with an edible pandan paint which gives a nutty aroma, designed to trick your palette with a surprisingly fresh flavour profile.

Open from January 25; Mon-Fri 4pm-late; Sat-Sun noon-late, alibibaranddining.com.au

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