Nestled along the restaurant strip of Willoughby Road, Small Bar is a refreshing change of pace for an area of the city that has been largely overlooked by the small bars revolution. Despite the name, this is no hipster haunt. Rather, the bar caters more for the after-work crowd of the Lower North Shore. The bar's layout is clearly the result of some careful consideration. Unlike its sister venue Small Bar on Erskine Street in the CDB, the Crows Nest branch of Small Bar is actually quite, uh, large.
The entrance is largely taken up with the exposed brick bar, and the theme of warm neutrals, caramel wood and candlelight continues throughout the interior. Move outside and you'll emerge into a kind of fairy grotto that wouldn't look out of place in a Fellini film. Bedecked with vines, fairy lights, and wrought iron furniture, this is quite a romantic spot to have a drink. And if you can secure a corner spot with the leather couches you may never want to leave.
Owners Chris Lane, Luke Heard and Lee Viveiros have a very clear idea of whom they're catering for with their northern venture. This is an ideal venue for post-work fraternising and the vibe here sits somewhere between relaxed and refined. The music is a collection of soft indie and folk and the volume is kept low so that conversation is possible. Even on a Monday there's only bar seating available (no bad thing, from our point of view) and the air is filled by the insistent hum of friendly chatter.
The drinks menu features a selection of Australian wines, dominated by the Victorian and South Australian regions, with a few New Zealand and European varieties in the mix and ranges from $6.50 to $14 a glass. The Soho and Little Yering pinot noirs go down like an icy glass of cordial on a hot day. Basic spirits are also available but this is a wine bar, not a cocktail bar - grape juice is the star here. The beers list is quite the rarity, with Cascade, Monteiths, and Little Creatures featured beside some of the more common imported names.
Bar snacks aren't cheap - from $7.50 for chips and aioli through to $19.50 for the cheese board - but are designed to be shared. A plate of parmesan and herb-crumbed chicken with lime and chilli aioli is heralded by the sort of heavenly scent that will weaken the resolve of even the strictest dieter, while the beautifully presented cheese boards and antipasto plates are winners if you want something to take the edge off before dinner. For a more robust hunger, we recommend you take a stab at the chicken burger with jalapeno aioli for $16. You will require neither distressed denim, nor your grandmother's pearls to drink here. The combination of relaxed elegance and excellent wine brings Small Bar breaks all boundaries.
|Venue name:||Small Bar - Crows Nest|
85 Willoughby Rd
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat noon-midnight; Sun noon-10pm|