96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW
(02) 9360 7772 or www.rambutan.com.au

Rambutan — inspired by a Thai fruit of the same name — has joined the new ‘Darlo’ Oxford Street strip, which is enjoying a renaissance. Husband and wife team Joe Natale and Milena Molina-Natale has between them an extensive design background in fashion and interiors and over 15 years in hospitality; both locally and in Europe (operating the successful ‘Ex Novo’ restaurant in Amsterdam). So it’s no surprise to learn they undertook the interior design of the venue themselves. “I felt that I was the only one who really knew what I wanted,” explained Joe. “Not many interior designers understood the concept and the final design of what I wanted Rambutan to be.” Rambutan consists of an Asian-inspired restaurant on the ground floor and a cosy cocktail bar downstairs. “When I had a restaurant in Amsterdam I discovered that Sydney lacked restaurant bars; the concept of having a cocktail bar where people stay a lot longer than just having a bite to eat,” said Joe. The restaurant is inspired by Thai gardens and, dominated by a communal table and open-plan kitchen. The long amber-lit bench and bronzed bamboo Florence Broadhurst wallpaper upstairs creates impact on entry. Downstairs is influenced by Joe’s Italian heritage with Missoni fringing, fabrics and lampshades. Both rooms are a result of Joe’s love of European interiors and Milena’s eye for design and experience with the world’s biggest labels (including Gucci). “I’m very anal when it comes to lighting and sound — people don’t realise how important it is to a venue,” added Joe. “You can still spend a lot of money on your décor without having to turn the lights up! For audio I chose a JBL system.”

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