If there was ever a time to do it, 2020 was the year to open a bar unashamedly geared towards the local set. The buzz of Potts Points' cosy wine bar Bar Sopra – which came into fruition right after lockdown – is amplified by its close quarters. Friends titter at the alfresco tables outside on Challis Avenue; low-key first dates are well underway; locals in chic, blocky sunglasses saunter past with a wave.
It's not the Bar Sopra team's first time making magic in a tight squeeze. Right next door sits Spanish-inspired, pastel-decked La Bomba, also the brainchild of Nick Stone and Aparna Gehlot. Bar Sopra might be Bomba's moodier older sister in style, but its Spanish-inflected menu follows in the tradition of its neighbour. Dishes are tapas-style and the menu even has a portion dedicated to types of tinned fish, a staple of casual bar dining on the Continent. Didn't make it to summer on the Costa Brava? Sopra's got you. Order plates of Espinaler mussels or oily mackerel, or just dip your toe in with the house pincho of moreish olives and marinated anchovies for the price of a coffee.
It's possible here to run the whole flavour gamut in one mouthful: the salty ocean bite of Spanish white anchovies tempered by a creamy slather of lemon butter, brightening the comforting warmth of grilled sourdough. Paprika adds a touch of smoke; pickled onions make up the sweetness. Or try the roasted Yamba prawns, spiced and tender, which come in a shallow pool of curry oil with lemon wedges for added pucker. Want something a little heartier? Chunks of Fremantle octopus and chickpeas are stirred through a tomato ragù and topped with micro-herbs for a fragrant flourish.
It's the ideal kind of fodder for nibbling while perched on the terrazzo-speckled bar table that fringes the little space. Summer-evening-friendly, fruity cocktails are a good starter: try the Alex Somespritz (gin, rosé, peach liqueur and sparkling wine), or the Taylor Abittropical (pisco, orange liqueur, berry jam, pineapple). If you're ordering by the bottle, you've got a range of choices – they lean towards the Australian, though the continent also has strong representation, with French, Italian and Portuguese winemakers making the cut. If you're looking for a no-booze option while sitting front row to the street-side action, zero per cent alcohol brand Non Wine from Melbourne is a new addition to the drinks list: the pét nat mimic is lightly carbonated and tart, while the still, toasted cinnamon and yuzu variety sets its sights on evoking a dry white.
Visit Bar Sopra at 65 Macleay Street, Potts Point.