An old white collar haunt transforms into a botanical watering hole
New bars keep popping up in the inner city, but a decent, roomy, affordable afterwork venues that caters to broad tastes are in short supply in the CBD. That is why the expansive Verandah Bar in Martin Place getting a complete makeover is such welcome news. You can bring the whole accounts team with you when the venue fits 550 people.
New owners and hoteliers Simon Tilley and Nick Wills hired design team Luchetti Krelle (who fitted out Momofuku Seiobo) to reinvent the white collar haunt and the result is a slick, botanical-themed watering hole split into two areas: the main bar (where most of the post-work action is), and an upscale, native ingredient-driven restaurant called Social at Verandah.
Gone are the RSL stools and the gift-wrappy colour scheme and in their place is a fresh-faced bar decked out in burnt orange lounges, rattan chairs and draped in greenery. So much that they have one spot called the ‘Hanging Garden’, named for the massive plant installation that looms above — a cloud-like botanical sculpture designed by Melbourne studio Loose Leaf. Over 150 plants, from hanging ferns to potted peace lilies, occupy the space.
Drinks at Verandah have a broad appeal. The barmen won’t want to hear about your crush on pet-nats or small batch gin. You can, however, sneak into Social and smuggle back a specialty cocktail made by bar whizz Cameron Pascoe (ex-Felix).
From the main bar’s compact cocktail list, a classic Negroni has the right mix of sweet to bitter, though a bigger ice-cube would’ve stopped the drink from diluting so quickly. Wine by the glass starts at $8 — a no-frills line-up of mostly-Australian reds, whites and sparkling. A crisp, berry-driven Provence Sezane Rose is the fanciest of the bunch at $13.5.
Look to the food for a more obvious signs of upward mobility. On the all-day menu you’ll find everything from build-your-own poke bowls to burgers, housemade pizzas and a gravy-soaked, braised lamb and mushroom pie served on mushy peas and buttery mash.
A ‘faloumi’ burger (falafel and haloumi) is a good bet, with crunchy house-made falafels spiked with smoked paprika and cumin. It’s finished with chargrilled haloumi, a tart, caramelised eggplant chutney and a yoghurt dressing. Or grab a trio of tapas for $25 before 9pm and split Asian-style small plates like ponzu-laced salmon belly tartar and nuggets of miso-marinated karraage chicken. Sure, it’s a menu that ignores the mantra of “don’t try to please everyone”, but this after-work venue knows its audience and they look pretty pleased to us.
|Venue name:||Verandah Bar|
55-65 Elizabeth St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri noon-3am; Sat 10am-3am|