Friday, 25 March 2011

little sheep, small bars

We've covered small bars before, and it's not a concept...but they're just so darn cute, and great ones seem to be popping up everywhere in Sydney lately:

121 BC (as covered by me in this week's Daily Addict)

Hidden in the alleyway between big sister Vini and Jared Ingersoll’s Cotton Duck, the latest addition to Surry Hills’ Holt Street food scene is a wine shop slash enoteca that ain’t no slacker when it comes to celebrating interesting wines, liquors and digestives from every region of Italy.

Named after the finest vintage of Falerian wine, from the region between Latium and Campania, you don’t need to be a wine buff to appreciate Surry Hills’ latest vino digs, but those with an eye will find plenty to like.

One half is a walk-in wine fridge, defined by Italian wine regions – buy by the bottle and have it cracked open for you at the bar, or choose from the by-the-glass menu, with the help of the very charming Giorgio de Maria.

Featuring custom hand-blown glass decanters by artist Brian Hirst, intimate seating for 23, and a slimline seasonal menu by Vini and Berta’s owner/executive chef Andrew Cibej; if you like your food simple and sexy, you’re home.

The silky carpaccio of Spanish mackerel is perfect with a glass of Maquè Perricone rosé, the marinated bocconcini with chilli crumbs is a classy winner, and make sure you soak up the earthy pine mushrooms with borlotti beans with plenty of bread.

4/50 Holt Street (via Gladstone St)
Surry Hills, 2010
(02) 9699 1582


Glebe natives love Different Drummer. It's kitchy and a little daggy, and for the better part of a two decades (originally opened in Darlinghurst in 1971), the only proper bar in Glebe. Not anymore, if newcomer Timbah has anything to say about it. A converted garage beneath Glebe's best vino bottle shop, Glebe Liquor, the bar is run by the same crew and is satisfyingly 'off the beaten track', just off Forsyth Street at the quieter end of Glebe Point Road, and a stone's throw from Glebe Point Diner.

Cue the sound of falling trees: As the name suggests, there's a fair bit of wood panneling as well as twine-esque partitioning, which gives the space an organic, un-done feel, just don't be lighting any matches indoors.

It's a wine bar, so expect regular changes to vinos by the glass, and some interesting ones at that.
It's not all about drinking though, with a chalkboard menu of seasonal shared dishes like fried school prawns with aioli, kingfish carpaccio with grapefruit, fennel and mint, as well as heftier mains to boot.

A welcome addition to the inner west drinking culture.


They say a stitch in time saves nine, but (perhaps more nobly) this Stitch has joined in the effort (with bars like Grasshopper and Grandma's) to save the CBD from being void of cute, interesting places to scurry to, after dark.

Reminiscent of New York's many off-street-level establishments, this basement bar's street-level calling card is a tiny tailor's shop front, that gives way to a downwards set of stairs, opening into the bar. Blink and you'll miss it kinda stuff.

Like Grandma's, there's a kitchy-cool vintage vibe going on, with the bar constructed from stacked sewing machines, sheet-music wallpaper and saloon-style barrel tables. Given the old-fashioned feel, you'd expect classic cocktails to be done with panache, and there's certainly a good Negroni to be had here.

On the food front, it's encouraging to see more hotdogs in Sydney, especially with names like French Poodle, and Mack Ducky Dog. They ain't no basic NYC street dawgs either, featuring schmancy (not just a little bit fancy) bangers like duck, orange and pistachio, as well as fillers of brie, truffle sauce and the like. Top it off with curly fries and you've one solid city bar experience.

61 York Street
Sydney, 2000