Two minutes after walking in the door Brett Harris (ex-Hello Sailor) had me laughing, and loving La Perla ($18). It’s a unfolding blend of Manzanilla sherry, reposado tequila and pear liqueur with a lemon twist, and my pick of his clever list.
While the somewhat lurid colours of this year’s Vivid painted this town, I slipped twenty feet underground to investigate this sunken cellar.
Everybody needs a local; a place that’s warm and cosy and familiar. My first trip to Tapeo was for the welcoming daytime coffees of Dan the Man at sister Tapeo Bakery.
The duck pancake is dead - long live the shredded Peking Duck Roti Wrap ($16.90/6 pieces)! It was my highlight of Chefs Gallery’s revised menu, which centres upon Chapas – Chinese style tapas. Before you wince, recall the Chinese have been sharing small dishes - dim sum - all the way back to the Han Dynasty; and reduced portions means sampling more dishes!
It's pretty much the only place on Oxford Street where you can dine al fresco and not be in a gutter. At first it seemed to be a chain store fad, but it's actually still popular after all these years, so I thought I'd revisit. While the uniforms, rum and cigars are distinctly Cuban, the food only hints of Havana, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
When getting seen at Ravesi's goldfish bowl wears thin, head to a secluded bar that has one of the best panoramas of Bondi Beach. You could almost miss it above the souvenir shops. Once inside, get cosy amongst whitewashed furniture, fairy lights, candles and even a blanket if it's too cold. I dare you not to start with Sicilian Olives ($5.50) and cocktails.
Former rugby league player Hassan Saleh has turned his hand to wine bars, opening his first in Randwick. It’s stylish and keenly priced, but then Hassan has hospitality in his blood, with his father, Charlie Saleh owning the ever-popular Sapphire Suite in Kings Cross.
Tek tek: these intriguing Turkish words roll off the tongue (and were part of the song title Düm Tek Tek that won Turkey Eurovision in 2009). At Efendy’s new casual Mezebar they’re 100ml mini cocktails (think: long shots), and at only five bucks apiece, you can afford a whole lot of bang for fifty bucks.
My 2013 New Year’s resolution is to keep my bra on in public. FYI the pink satin and black lace bra that hangs above the Emmilou bar is mine. Guess the bra size and owner Chris Cranswick-Smith will shout you a tequila (and probably drink one with you – he loves the stuff!) Or tag the glossy red wall with the white texta to leave your mark (I’ve done that too “>> freefall << @frombecca xx”. Bet you can’t guess what that’s about.) The real business of course is the booze and the tapas.
With the Jones Bay edge of Pyrmont boasting better scenery, restaurants at the pointy end of Harris Street, looking onto Johnstons Bay, have had a rather hard slog. This doesn’t faze Owner Craig Jarman, who’s already developed a successful weekend brunch trade. He’s now determined to make night-time tapas work.