Wine bars have a knack for stretching out a good time. All it takes is for your amiable bartender to crack the top off a bottle of grippy, balanced Koerner vermentino from the Clare Valley. From there you can’t put the party cork back in the bottle, so you may as well move on to a silky, tanic Bella Ridge tempranillo from 2010.
Bibo has all the essential hallmarks of an upmarket Euro-style wine bar: it’s low lit, dark and looks like an old-world smoking room. There’s an open-air deck out the back for balmy nights in the east; a private dining room upstairs that can seat 40 people; and a museum wine list of cellared wines if you are as rich as a Kennedy. If you just want a snifter of a millionaire’s life they also do museum wines by the glass so you can drop $48 on a 2005 Two Hands shiraz from McLaren Vale – just to see what it tastes like.
Of course you’re not surprised that you can drop your whole paycheck on wine in Double Bay, but you can also sit all night long on $10-$12 glasses here, and use your extra money to spin out the evening with some bar snacks.
The first thing you need to know is that when they say cornbread here, they mean bread made with corn flour, not the yellow, cakey bread you might normally dip in gumbo. But we have only good things to say about the smoked mackerel pate – a rich, unctuous pot of smoky, spreadable fish that is a quality primer to a night on only the fanciest of tiles.
They’re also setting fire to their chorizo. OK, fine, they’re actually igniting the brandy that they slosh over it when it comes out of the oven, but either way your sausage is on fire. And to keep that rich, meaty bar snack party on a roll you may as well order up roasted bone marrow, sharpened and focussed by onions and anchovies, or a classic steak tartare to fill in the edges. Or just skip to the end and order a single Portuguese custard tart, supplied by Petersham’s Sweet Belem bakery.
You might not believe us but this bar isn’t the exclusive domain of fat cats and professional lunchers – they’ve got Fat Freddy’s Drop and the Specials on rotation and service is warm and appealing. If you fancy a grown-up evening, pull up a stool at Bibo and see how long fine wine and rich snacks keep you in your seat.