The Sydney venues for days when all you want to do is graze on a luxurious cheeseboard and put a solid dent in a bottle of wine while you catch up on the last few years, days or minutes of someone's life and discuss the age old question: washed rind vs hard cheese.
At Continental in Newtown a downstairs deli opens at 11am and becomes a casual bar/restaurant as the later hours creep in, while upstairs there's a bistro for those fancier nights out. But downstairs is where we like to hang, putting serious dents in their collection of natural wines and French cheeses that they serve with a sweet potato paste from Argentina. We try not to think about the dents in our savings as a result.
It’s the cheeses that are responsible for the queues of turophiles pressing their noses against the glass here. It’s $21 for two, $29 for three or $37 for four cheeses and you get to choose each and every one. No one is going to sneak a wedge of Manchego on your plate here unless you want it. Each board comes with bread and crackers, a small puck of quince paste, muscatels and a fig-and-walnut rolada, but that's all just window dressing for the main event.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: 1.8m cheese fridge. That's how seriously they take their curds at this new late night restaurant/bar hybrid on Oxford Street. Basically everything on the menu features cheese, but you can also just order your fromage straight up to go with a fruity beaujolais or a flinty riesling.
Hole up in this tiny Paddington wine bar for an evening of all the crazy, raw, wild and feral Italian wines you can handle. To temper this fermented frenzy, they always have magnificent cheese available at market price. Whether it's a hard pecorino or a soft wedge of three-milk brie depends entirely on the whim of the kitchen.
PS40 is a cocktail bar and soda operation hiding just above eye level in the heart of the CBD. It's co-owned Michael Chiem and Thor Bergqvist, two rockstar Sydney bartenders with ludicrously impressive bar credentials, and in addition to ace wines these guys will also sort out the munchies with one or two cheeses, served with lavosh and a carrot, orange and ginger jam they make in-house.
The world keeps on turning and so too does the cocktail menu at Bulletin Place, the little attic bar putting its fruitiest foot forward when it comes to seasonal drinks. This is a compact operation so they keep the snacks to the classics. There's a spiced hummous; snacky bits like olives and nuts; and a clutch of beautifully aged cheeses to keep your wine company.
There's no day of the week we wouldn't like to be propping up the bar here. You'd have to put in the hours to make even the smallest dent in their 15-page wine list, but we prefer to hand the reins to the professionals and let them surprise us. They also have five cheeses available for $15 each, or you can choose five for $30, which makes better economic and gastronomic sense to us.
In a suburb dedicated to pubs in all their guises, this tiny, subterranean wine bar is going for the gentlemen’s vote. The system here emulates that of Gerald’s Bar in Melbourne, whereby the first six wines ordered become the by-the-glass options for the day. The little open kitchen at one end of the bar pumps out bar snacks but we say keep it simple with a little cheese. It's nine dollars for one, $16 for two or three for $21.
After a series of popular pop-up bars that doubled as performance spaces, Cake Wines decided to put down some permanent roots in Sydney and have set up a fetching, modern wine bar inside a converted warehouse in the backstreets of Redfern. This is the place to kick back with a bottle of rosé on a sunny afternoon and order up a cheese and meat board to quiet rumbling stomachs.
Need more than cheese for dinner?
Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Sydney's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop – and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, of course. Behold: our definitive eat-and-destroy list.