At Broadsheet, we’re calling it the “Inception concept”. Much like in the Christopher Nolan movie where the protagonists travel through layers of dreams, Sydney restaurants and bars are running with the concentric concept, opening venues within venues faster than Leonardo DiCaprio in a chase scene.
Wine bars within wine bars, pizzerias inside pubs, and cocktails and snacks in a French restaurant – there’s a babushka-doll effect taking hold across our city.
Could it be Sydney’s rising rental prices causing owners to maximise revenue streams? Bored chefs and bartenders looking for a low-risk venture that allows them to experiment with new dishes and drinks? An accidental surplus order of dinner plates? We’re not sure, but we’re not complaining, either.
Here’s where to find them.
Pass through the European eatery Redfern Continental and, en-route to the toilets, look for the discreet entrance of GDR (Gunther’s Dining Room). Walk through to discover a “slightly porno” (their words, not ours) cocktail bar – a dark world punctuated by the light from a spinning disco ball, cool tunes and olive-coloured velour booths. There are Daiquiris, oysters, and a 1980s East Berlin vibe (without the paranoia, suppression of liberty and danger). You’ll be glad you sniffed this place out.
Bridge Bon Appetit
Some call it a “mezzanine”; others call it an “elevated gangplank”. Regardless, Swillhouse Group has settled the quarrel by naming its bar-restaurant venture Bridge Bon Appetit. It overlooks the dining room of Hubert, the subterranean CBD restaurant known for its theatrical decor and rich French food.
Like Bridge Bon Appetit’s bar-kitchen space (all the cooking is done on a pair of hot plates), the menu is tight, starting with oysters mignonette and finishing with a superb caviar omelette. It has an extensive list of natural wines and well-made cocktails.
Twelve seats, 14 pizzas and lots of candles. That’s the vibe at Mary’s Pizzeria, the by-the-slice pizza equivalent of Newtown burger joint Mary’s. Tucked into a corner of the rock‘n’roll Lansdowne Hotel in Chippendale, it offers a delicious juxtaposition of high- and low-fi dining. Slices of pizza are topped with fior di latte and no-name mozzarella; and the square Detroit-style pizzas are served on cardboard sheets to your candle-lit table. This is “shit fast food” (again, their words) elevevated.
Bonnie’s Wine & Food
When asked why Bonnies came about, wine director and group sommelier James Hird said the company (Icebergs and The Dolphin is a fan of “venues within venues” (we hope you’re enjoying the article, Hird). It’s turned the back space of Bondi Beach Public Bar into a colourful, 50-seat wine bar with an almost-all-Australian wine list. There’s a changing menu of Italo-Oz snacks and share plates, and crunchy pizza fritta (fried pizza).
Frankie’s Fun Room
Navigate past the partying crowd in the infamous pinball room, through the entry to the right of the stage and down the fire stairs. You’re looking for the inconspicuous brown door that transports you to the Fun Room, the former green room-turned-speakeasy bar located within Frankies Pizza By The Slice. The daggy Italian interiors of the front room seem miles away: here, tinnies, house spirits and rock‘n’roll rule the roost. There’s space for 20 patrons, and lots of good times.