Drinking at this elegant bar in the heart of the city’s financial district can feel a little like you’re going back in time – specifically to Liberation Day in Paris in 1945. Of course the swing dancers upstairs help maintain the illusion, as do the helpful, aproned bartenders who want nothing more than to mix you a Rum and Rye and serve it up with a baked camembert served in paper with a truffle and quince paste and fresh lemon thyme. It’s rich, hearty bar snacking direct from Western Europe, best enjoyed to the sound of the live bands who play here on Saturday nights.
This thoroughly modern iteration of a Subcontinental diner is not serving up anything like the creamy curries and chubby pastry pyramids of spiced potato and peas that you might be expecting when you head out for Indian. Instead, these guys will kick things off with little crunchy pastry triangles fried to such an extreme crisp you may want to wear protective earmuffs. They come in three flavours – duck and cinnamon, trout and ginger, or greens and cheese – but if you really want to get crazy they even make a tandoori chicken burger spring roll.
Almost every bar in the city will offer this luxurious primer, but all parfaits are not made equal. Dead Ringer has had this pearler on the menu since they opened and it sticks to the trifecta of sweet, savoury and rich. They counter the deep iron flavour of the livers with a light, spiked creaminess. Swipe a generous amount over charred bread and add some sharp pickled carrot or sweet and sour watermelon rinds to balance out all the fat and you have a perfect bar snack on your hands.
The system is beautifully simple at this cupboard-sized Potts Point establishment, where you oscillate between little piping hot pockets and ice cold brews. They make a mean duck pancake and a barbecue pork bun, but the real payload is in the plates of pan-fried pork and cabbage dumplings, dipped in soy and eaten at warp speed in spite of the tongue-blistering risk. And if it’s a school night and you don’t fancy multiple rounds of Sapporo, Tsingtao, or Duvel, they also boast a dedicated tea menu.
You’ll start with the best of intentions. You’ll just pop in for one drink at this high class cocktail lounge, maybe something from the ‘choose your own Martini’ menu, or the perfumed or nautical-themed cocktail lists. But before you know it you’ll start feeling peckish and that’s when you should look at ordering the EDV Tasting Board. It’s a selection of meats, cheeses, accompaniments and bread that will fill in the edges not taken up by their excellent deconstructed Bloody Mary.
Avocado didn’t ask to become a new age status symbol, but we’ll always pay extra for guac. At this bar hidden in an old loading dock in the city they mix up a locally famous guacamole to the exacting recipe of owner Nick White. It’s one of those simple pleasures designed to accompany a real lemonade spiked with your booze of choice, best consumed in the festoon-lit courtyard.
You might not be able to pop off to the Big Easy any time you want a stirred-down cocktail and a snack, but this sunken bar in the heart of the CBD will keep those New Orleans pangs in check with a Sazerac and a proper American-style grilled cheese sandwich. It serves serious time in a hot pan to ensure the outside is golden and crisp and the inside is packed with molten cheddar and raclette smothering smoked Wagyu, onions and pickles.
Just when you thought the most Australian thing was a Golden Gaytime, the bent geniuses first at the Abercrombie Hotel, and then this Chippo party bar went and deep fried it. Your summer staple now straddles the hot and cold divide, drenched in syrup and the most fun take on ’80s suburban deep-fried ice cream possible. If you fancy something sweet but aren’t up for the full pub counter meal, skip straight to the end with a drink and dessert.
A New York deli and cocktail bar has been shoehorned into a tiny former office underneath a parking garage as Parramatta’s first small bar and they’re mixing up the good stuff. And they’re also no slouch on the snacks front. They make a classic Reuben, a pastrami brisket po’boy, and a smoked frankfurter tucked into a milk bun. That hot dog is almost a Reuben in disguise, dressed in mustard and pickles, with Russian dressing and sauerkraut.
They’re channelling the island vibes at this Caribbean-themed bar and diner on Crown Street. The drinks favour the sweet sting of rum as their backbone and they jerk the heck out of a piece of chicken, served on rice or in a burger. But sometimes the sides are half the fun, which is why even if you’re not starving you should make room for a serve of the mac’n’cheese. They make it with three kinds of cheeses and then cap it with a herb and butter crumble for crunch.