Sometimes (OK, often) what I drink is as important as what I eat – and sometimes it’s more important. The eats still have to be good of course (and inclusion on this list is in no way an indictment of the food at these establishments), but sometimes I just feel like grazing my way through a few plates of tasty food while focusing on some very interesting wines and other beverages. Here’s where I head to when I get that feeling.
A seat at the bar can be a clever, inexpensive way to experience a fine diner, especially when the co-owner is sommelier-extraordinaire Nick Hildebrandt, with a penchant for the boutique, rare and eclectic and over 30 wines by the glass. Add a plate of house-cured meat and a few of Brent Savage’s creative snacks and you’re set.
Little Felix, Sydney
Walking into this cosy dimly-lit bar beside the larger Felix bistro is like taking a quick trip to 1920s Paris. Fun, retro cocktails and wine poured from magnums set the scene, alongside a simple menu of charcuterie, fromage, freshly shucked oysters and caviar.
Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney
Go for the witty quotes on the drinks list – stay for a killer selection of wines by the glass from one of Sydney’s finest cellars and a superb range of cocktails from bar staff that really know their stuff. Nibble on the best finger sandwiches, empanadas, tasty bits on crisp toast and other winning snacks.
Bibo Wine Bar, Double Bay
This narrow space in unlikely Double Bay has a bright young crew of industry professionals, including front-of-house Jonathan Mallett and chef Jose Silva (both ex-Guillaume at Bennelong). From a lean skin-contact Clare riesling with moreish bean fritters to an old Madeira with Sweet Belem Portuguese tarts, they’ve got the goods!
Dear Sainte Éloise, Potts Point
Simple interesting food and natural wines are two of my favourite things … which explains why this is one of my favourite wine bars. I also love the vibe of their laneway location, the Orwellian twist in name and address, and their commitment to riesling!