The Sydney wine bar has recharged the batteries and pivoted towards local vintners.
Darlinghurst wine bar Love, Tilly Devine is back open for business after a quick refresh of its menu, wine list and look. The same winning formula of the last seven years remains, but the bar has tightened its focus on Australia's blossoming natural wine movement and developed a more local and sustainable food offer.
"We're not trying to reinvent Love, Tilly Devine as much as take it back to the way it was when we first opened," says owner Matt Swieboda.
Swieboda, who opened a second bar, Dear Sainte Éloise, this year, is bringing Éloise partners Nathaniel Hatwell and Jasmin Natterer back to where it all began, with the trio sharing floor duties while Dear Sainte Éloise chef Ben Abiad will add the bar menu at Love, Tilly Devine to his brief.
Buffalo mozzarella, peas and dragoncello sauce.
The bites will be more vegetable-led, with Abiad taking a strong interest in the sustainability of Australia's farming practices, including the resources involved in raising meat.
"We want to prepare food that's easy on the environment in Australia," Swieboda says.
To that end, you'll see the likes of broad beans and roast asparagus dressed with salmoriglio, or a dollop of buffalo mozzarella with peas sitting on dragoncello sauce. The charcuterie comes from Pino's, the bread from Iggy's and the oysters are farmed to order for the bar by Cummins Seafood. Abiad is also experimenting with ferments like celery hearts, onions and chilli, which can be ordered on their own but also show up in the snapper crudo with crisp rye bread.
Cheeses are sourced from producers such as Milawa Cheese and Binnorie Dairy.
The bar now pours mainly Australian wines, and Swieboda is keen to showcase up-and-coming producers he's found during three months of research and sourcing.
"We were the first client for James Erskine [of South Australian winery Jauma] in 2010," Swieboda says. "It's been great seeing people we love and respect progress in their careers and to feel like we're along for the ride."
Expect newcomers such as Yarra Valley maker Ephemera Wines and the Adelaide Hills' Borachio alongside Dormilona, Momento Mori and Manon. International wines are there to provide a point of contrast to the Australian expressions of classic varieties.
Prosciutto, melon and smoked mascarpone
The space itself has had a simple touch-up, with new wallpaper designed by illustrator Adriana Picker featuring on one wall. "It feels like the place I would like to go now that I'm a bit older," Swieboda says.
And for the first time the bar will open on Monday nights.
Love, Tilly might have been a mainstay of Sydney's wine bar scene for the last seven years, but it sounds like it's just getting comfortable. Here's to seven more.
Love, Tilly Devine, 91 Crown La, Darlinghurst, NSW, (02) 9326 9297, lovetillydevine.com; open Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight.