Even though our love for Chippo resto Ester is as strong as the day it opened five years ago, when you’re in a long-term dining relationship you can get a wandering palate. But it’s not cheating if your piece on the side is a wine bar by the very same crew who won your heart in the first place, right?
How fitting that chef Mat Lindsay and sommelier Julien Dromgool’s new walk-in wine bar is called Poly, because it’s going to split your love across two venues. And don’t kid yourself, just because it’s calling itself a bar doesn’t mean you’re not going to drop a chunk of cash grazing your way through the snacks menu.
It’s less a slippery slope and more a delicious slide that starts off with a discus of bread puffed up like a soufflé pancake on the grill so that top and tail are charred. It's fated to be the bronzed chariot for the creamy salt cod dip that accompanies it. Staying on the ‘fun with bread’ theme are batons of cucumber wrapped up like a cigar in soft crust-free white bread, but approach it with extreme caution, because there’s enough hot Japanese mustard in there to destroy your sinuses. Gentler comforts are found in a thick slice of malty bread with lots of butter layered with one brown and one white anchovy.
The famous Ester blood pudding sambo has been remixed into a pie here, with more hot mustard, fresh chervil and a sweet prune purée as a foil to all that earthy, farmhouse funk. It stands in stark contrast to the dish we can’t stop thinking about, ricotta gnudi – pillowy dumplings that carpet bomb your mouth with cheese; a smoked whey sauce that’s lighter than a cheese sauce but creamier than butter; and shiitake mushrooms that have undergone an alchemical transformation in the deep fryer so that you’d swear blind they were bacon rinds.
See? We did it ourselves, spending all this time talking about the food when this is a wine bar...
Stop in any time for an elegant, restrained riff on a Negroni made with blanco tequila or the exceptionally lean chardonnay made for the venue by those natural wine champions Commune of Buttons. If you like the aroma of herbal mountain plains order the Kumpf and Meyer sylvaner auxerrois from Alsace, or just smash nice glasses of Marrickville’s Wildflower international ale on tap. This is the kind of drinks list that will accomodate many return visits before you run out of interesting and delicious things to drink, moving comfortably across global vineyards with a natural bent, but behind the bar there’s no evangelical posturing about it.
Service is knowledgeable, but they don’t go in for the hard sell at Poly. They don’t need to. Sydney is a town with a lot of love to give when ace snacks and killer drinks are on the cards.