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Bar Copains

  • Bars
  • Surry Hills
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Morgan Mcglone and Nathan Sassi
    Photograph: Caroline McCredie
  2. The anchovy on puff pastry
    Photgraph: Caroline McCredie
  3. Snacks at Bar Copains
    Photgraph: Caroline McCredie

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Best mates, Dr Dre hits, a killer fish sanga and funky drops walk into a bar – and the result is pretty cool

It’s about as difficult to define 'cool' as it is to pin the tail on the donkey blindfolded after a coupla Negronis. Crocs were not but now they are; laughing emojis are (apparently) not; and even the humble burrata looks like it’s on its way out (RIP). If it’s difficult to define, it’s even more challenging to manufacture, as the action of trying to be cool is very much uncool. When you see cool, you just know. And that’s exactly what will happen if you stroll into Bar Copains, Surry Hills’ new friendly neighbourhood wine bar.

'Copains' means 'friends' in French, which is an apt name for this gem by longtime mates and chefs Morgan McGlone (culinary director of Potts Point’s Sunday, and founder of Belles Hot Chicken) and Nathan Sasi (the founding chef of Nomad). Sasi’s partner, Sali, is also co-owner. Friends since their paths crossed in 2010, the duo long dreamed about opening a little wine bar where they could catch up and enjoy good bottles of natural wine. And in late 2022, that’s exactly what they did.

Fun fact: McGlone and Sasi have both donated hundreds of wines from their personal collections that they have been building up over the years for Bar Copains, some of which are proudly lined up on shelves along the wall like kids' swimming trophies. Together, they worked with Christian Robertson to curate the list, which features a mix of both local and international producers, natural and conventional wines, some funky and some classics, plus a selection of rare vintage drops. Chat to the warm waitstaff and we reckon you'll be sure to find something you like.

While Bar Copains is a wine bar first, restaurant second, McGlone and Sasi’s menu is no afterthought. Take the anchovy with puff pastry, olive and onion, for example. A bookmark-like rectangle of buttery and flaky pastry is the vessel for caramelised onion, olive tapenade, an anchovy and a scattering of verdant finely chopped chives. Rich with umami, salt and sweetness, it’s one of the tastiest snacks we can remember having in a long time. We pair it with a glass of Momento Mori's blend of moscato giallo and vermentino from Victoria, which is floral and fruity and gone in about five minutes.

Next, pigs head fritti sees well-seasoned shredded pork crumbed, fried and coming out looking like a perfectly golden, crisp and a much better version of a chicken nugget. Sliced zingy pickled cucumber on top does an excellent job of cutting through the richness of the meat, while a dollop of herby sauce gribiche sings of tarragon and adds freshness and creaminess. Pick up the bite-size snack in one hand, gobble it down, and you’re on a one-way ticket to flavour town.

The hits keep on coming, with wide slices of just-plucked-from-the-sea ruby red tuna laying on top of each other. A trio of toppings – horseradish, chilli sauce and pickled kohlrabi – come on the side to finish as you please, though we feel the soy, sesame oil and mirin dressing – which we may or may not have scooped up with a spoon – was the perfect accompaniment for the delicate fish.

Speaking of things swimming in the sea, we order fish again (how could you not when there’s a King George whiting sandwich on the menu?). And we’re so glad we did when crustless and pillowy white bread comes out encasing golden crumbed fillets of fish alongside dill-spiked tartare, rings of pickled onion and freshly shredded lettuce. It tastes like after-school trips to the fish and chip shop and happiness in one bite. On the side, thick-cut fried potato scallops with sour cream are crunchy and moreish, and a beautifully dressed cos lettuce salad with candied walnuts showered with comté cheese is also on point. To drink, a glass of Parri Poggiano’s sangiovese from Tuscany is dry, well-balanced and a delight.

Looking around you’ll see that inside is cosy, with the 20 or so guests sitting on the forest-green banquette seating, the round wooden tables window-side, or at the bar. Outside, there are a handful of tables for a romantic rendezvous, plus a bigger table down the hallway that seats about eight. A piece of art from Auvergne in France by Max Collage hangs on the wall. And we love the ceramic plates, bowls and cute round water jugs, which, impressively, are all made by McGlone himself (seriously, check Ryo's Pottery out). Everyone looks like they’re having a good time, the vibe is upbeat thanks to non-stop bangers by Dr Dre, the Notorious BIG and co, and we really don’t feel like going home.

So yes, Bar Copains is most certainly cool. But it backs it up by being unpretentious, relaxed, fun and absolutely delicious. It’s exactly the sort of place you want to go to with your best mates. And then revisit the following week.

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Avril Treasure
Written by
Avril Treasure


67 Albion Street
Surry Hills
View Website
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu 4pm-late; Fri, Sat noon-late; Sun 1pm-late
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