Wednesday, 27 May 2009

the falconer

The Falconer
31 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
NSW 2010.
02 9267 8434

Sydney has an obsession with supersizing. Whether it’s a shopping centre (or ‘mall’ if you prefer), club or bar, chances are you’ll find some kind of behemoth version of it somewhere in this town. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but sometimes – particularly when the weather gets cooler – the desire to find a cosy hole in the wall with a good glass of wine and your favourite people is pretty strong. And in this case, small is seriously good.

Melbourne seems to have small, intimate bars in spades and, Sydney may just follow in the same direction, with the Falconer setting the benchmark for character-filled watering holes in urban spaces.

Hidden amongst the fast food, modified cars and thumping beat of lower Oxford Street, the Falconer has been open less than a year and has already become a favourite haunt of the Surry Hills kids who give a damn about great atmosphere, an interesting wine selection and appreciate a good record collection.

Taking over the location of Sydney stalwart Aristotle’s, this Italian-peppered cafe-slash-bar has thoughtfully maintained that worn-in art deco vibe. The cosy booths, record player and that old real estate chestnut ‘original features’ lend themselves to an old-world speak easy feel, coupled with a little hipster cool via the stylish clientele. Expect a music selection ranging anywhere from Joan as Police Woman to Bowie, with a pit stop through classic timeless tracks with style.

Regardless of your musical persuasions though, it’s all about the small, dark bar mood and the easygoing service. Drop into a booth and peruse the succinct wine menu containing drops from this side of the pond as well as Italian, French and Spanish vinos. Try the unepectedly earthy Domaine Lafond Cotes du rhone with your fall-off-the-bone braised veal shanks or a tickly Bellussi prosecco with a mixed entree of fontina-fortified arancini balls, sugar-cured Petuna ocean trout and bresaola, for those who want to branch out from typical sparkling wines and try something new.

On the beer front, it’s all about Italian offerings like Birra Messina (a feisty Sicilian) and Peroni Gran Riserva, both of which are bloody good, but really, who can resist a Coopers longneck for true Australian style?

Caffeine injections here are made with care and attention to detail – that is to say the boys here give a damn about a good coffee as much as the affordable, quality winelist.

A perfect drop-by-after-work spot, take advantage of the $20 pasta and glass of wine special which is guaranteed to be a thousand times better than anything else you’re likely to find from here to Crown Street. But whether it’s a coffee, an after work vino or a meal, chances are you’ll want to linger over your glass and watch the rain from your warm, cosy confines.