Redfern residents were already pretty happy with George Woodyard thanks to the ace snackage available from the simple and delicious canteen, Scouts Honour. Now that the day trade was conquered, Woodyard, Anne Cooper, AmandaBaxter and Matt Turk decided it was time to rule the night by opening a bar. The new Regent of afterhours eats is Bart Jr.
In a feat of design wizardry, they’ve managed to make one of those glass-front, new development retail spaces feel warm, welcoming and lived in. It must be all that caramel coloured timber, golden light and flowers arranged about the room. Because this isn’t their first hospo rodeo they know how to manage a crowd – even if you show up at 7pm (foolhardy) they’re adept at predicting table turnover and manage the waitlist with a keen eye.
And it is worth it, because what they’ve successfully done is upload the spirit of a café into a bar. It might have been the promise of a glass of the Somos barbera rosé that got you here – the sweet/tart tug-o-war reminds us of biting into tart plum skins – but it’s the food menu that will keep you in your seat.
The kingfish ceviche is exotically dressed in a ginger coconut cream that inspires thoughts of jungle holidays, and they double down on the refreshment with shards of snowpeas, green onion and yellow capsicum. Chuck some toasted coconut and black sesame in there and you’ll realise other raw fish dishes have been slacking.
There is no greater argument for eating in season than ripe, grilled peaches with perfect tomatoes and an orb of burrata. It could almost be a dessert save for the savoury anchor of pistachios and fresh basil’s sharp, aromatic contribution.
They also work well with carbs, stuffing slightly sweet torpedo rolls with cooked prawns and a creamy, herby sauce, and packing a worryingly delicious calorific payload of multiple cheeses, brisket, mayo and pickles into their ‘hot sandwich’.
It’s not as if you won’t see similar sounding items listed on bar menus across the city, but anywhere they spotted an opportunity to level up, they took it. You always feel like they’re giving you their best at Bart Jr and that’s why we want to give them all our money, as well as the award for Best Bar Food for 2018.