As of April 2019, Johnny Fishbone is Johnny Goes Italian, a wine bar and Italian eatery by the same owners. The review below from June of 2017 is about Johnny Fishbone; Johnny Goes Italian has yet to be reviewed.
Johnny Fishbone has arrived on the site of defunct cocktail bar Hinky Dinks, and retro charm has given way to contemporary cool. This is a bar that is refined and sexy, but didn’t lose the fun in the refurb.
It’s not just the drinks that impress us (but we’ll rave on those shortly). Everything is perfect, from the snack menu that demands an order of ‘one of everything’, to the photoshoot-worthy lighting and house party soundtrack. It was love at first sight when we arrived one Saturday night.
The space is clean, modern and romantic. A wide marble bar and wood panelled walls provide a classic canvas for the hero of the place: the wine inventory, which lines the room.
The focus of the list is organic and skin contact, and there’s some intriguing categories – and bottles – on the menu. It’s divided into famous Johns. John C Reilly reigns over the bubbles. Bon Jovi tops the pinks and oranges. And John Wayne does the classics.
Got a thing for orange wine? The Beast is a great pick for fans that like a firm funk. It’s a full skin contact verdelho from the Hunter with big unfiltered texture. Continue your skin contact trip out to Slovenia – yes, Slovenia makes great wine. The Stekar Malvazija is exxy, but it pays dividends with its smooth, herbal flavour, achieved with indigenous yeasts and no preservatives. Unless you have superglue handy you may as well accept that you’re leaving here with an empty wallet and the kind of buzz you only get from very good wine.
In the kitchen, Ryan O’Shannessey is behind a line-up of seriously delicious seafood bodega snacks. The salty padron peppers have been haunting us with the memory of their crisp, blistered skins and the thick, creamy, savoury manchego custard they’re served with. The Hawkesbury squid comes spicy, juicy and dusted in cured fish roe, while thin kingfish ceviche has a fine, airy texture and and delicate lime and spice buzz to it.
The music has even more kick. The Pixies, New Order and LCD Soundsystem pump through the room, prompting shoulder shimmies from floor staff and punters alike.
Like Buffalo Dining Club – the other Darlo restaurant from this hospo team – Johnny Fishbone is not just a bar for elegant wine-swirling. It’s probably the best new date spot to hit the Sydney scene in months. The lighting is soft and flattering but the room is full of energy, and the staff are laid-back and chatty – full of great wine insights and endearing dance moves.
Nothing lays the groundwork for romance like fine wine and sexy snacks, and Johnny Fishbone has both in spades. How could you not fall in love?