When is a bar not a bar?
When it’s the lobby of a restaurant.
I took my lovely lady to Etch last night for an after work cocktail and a little bite on what I had heard was the best bar snacks in the city. Entering the hushed enclave I declared my interest in the bar and was told that the assorted, plush but somewhat lobbyish chairs were the bar. When you are sitting there it feels like they’ve cannibalized some of the restaurant floorspace to try and increase revenue as the number of premium covers in Sydney falls off.
On the Drinks front, I started with a Brandy Crusta, and Chelsey ordered a Floral Fizz, the working bar that services the restauran makes the drink, and this is unfortunately situated out of sight. When the drinks arrived they looked exquisite, but my crusta was missing the collar of lemon peel that Jerry decreed and whose oils improve the drink no end. The Floral fizz fared better, the hibiscus sweetness matching the Aussie sparkles it came with. Round two entailed a Dry Martini, for me and the Passion Fizz for her. The Passionfruit syrup clashed alarmingly and the pips looked good but would have been better strained out of the drink. The tide was out on my drink, but it was cold, floral from the Bombay. The peel lacked the finesse which is obviously a hallmark of the food as well.
If that was where it ended, I probably wouldn’t have managed to write about the place at all. The bar snacks are exquisite. The warmed ball of goats cheese flavoured with Lavender and Honey was unreal. Perfect balance, explosive flavour. Quite simply, WOW. The duck rillette were formed in little quinelles and accompanied by crunchy little toasts. As Matt the Cravat would say, a symphony of texture, taste and mouthfeel.
While I was at the Cocktail World Cup in New Zealand, all the Americans there were talking about beverage programs at restaurants. While I thought it was largely wank then, it kind of makes sense to me now. The beverage program is about making sure the attention to detail, balance of flavours and aesthetic of the food service continues at the bar.
Etch, with its unbelievably good snacks could be Sydney’s best premium bar. They just need to put the bar in the back room, have a bartender you can see turning out drinks that look as good as the mains out the front.
As it is, a great place for a quick, quiet but stylish drink before you head off to the Opera.
62 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. (02) 9247 4777
On Google maps, here.