Keystone Group has really surprised us with its latest gig. It’s neon glitzy and sequinned glamorous without the feel of a big group operator. The wait has been worth it. Somehow they’ve retained something of Newtown in their sexy update. Head upstairs to The Animal (named for party animals bartender Amanda tells us) for even sexier stuff.
Step into this red-lit cellar for an inspired introduction to sherry. Here it’s not just an accessory to food - though their offerings leave most of Sydney’s tapas for dead - but an end in itself. Leave yourself in the hands of an aficionado - owner Frank Dilernia’s opening La Bota di Fino No 27 ($14/glass) was such a gentle introduction to sherry, I went back again with dessert.
I visited Cantina’s older sibling after I’d enjoyed the - admittedly wilder and more cohesive - second gen. version. That’s not to say this one isn’t worth a peek. In fact it’s my missive here to alert you to the possibility of small bar crawling along the peninsula. Big sis shines brightest in the drinks department: the standout Sangria ($10/glass) is enriched with Sailor Jerry’s rum and passionfruit.
Mention bar and The Star in one sentence and Marquee or Cherry probably spring to mind. Yet turn right as you enter the door to BLACK by Ezard and you’ll be welcomed to the discrete BLACK bar. The casino patronage of high rollers at BLACK means there’s a big spend here, and with that comes the money for an extraordinary international cellar including more than a taste of the USA. Talented BLACK sommelier (and Australian 2012 EAFE Young Waiter of the Year) James Audas says his top pick by the glass is Tunkalilla Riesling from Willamette Valley Oregon. Cocktails feature
“There were 42 people in here one night, and 41 were women,” quips One Moncur’s sommelier, Tristan Tomlinson. While he launches into an extended description about the three grapes you find in Champagne - chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier - I look around. Even tonight, women outnumber men at least three to one.
Gowings Bar & Grill
The new QT Sydney takes a sophisticated, New York City loft approach, and its restaurant is no exception. Robert Marchetti (ex-Neild Avenue) has created a menu, big in both size and ambition. We commence with the signature entrée, the Beer Steamed Prawn Cocktail ($18).
One of the most interesting small spaces in Sydney right now is the bar that is tucked away behind TV chef Luke Nguyen’s Red Lantern on Riley. Like the Vietnamese restaurant out front, the Red Lily laneway bar serves Vietnamese beers (Bia Ha Noi and 333) and Asian inspired cocktails, such as Monkey Magic.
Gazebo Wine Garden
This venue has settled in beautifully; these days is looks more like a garden than a hipster pub affectation. Matt Kemp is clearly primed to lift it from a wine bar with optional food, to a modern British foodie destination. Pumped up floor staff are right behind him, too. His offerings are simple, produce-driven and seasonally sensitive.