Check out Melbourne's best new wine bars here.
Opening:*Any day now
**Expect: An exciting drinks list to match a menu of punchy bistro classics.
The bar offering at Restaurant Hubert promises to be as serious as the menu. Hubert is the first restaurant from Sydney's Swillhouse Group, which also operates Shady Pines Saloon, The Baxter Inn and Frankie's Pizza, so what's in the glass will be just as important as what's on the plate. Its opening is mere days away. Well, that was the case weeks ago, and now our craving for Daniel Pepperell's crème caramel is running hotter than ever. Andy Tyson, a graduate of Monopole, the Wine Library and Buzo, is pouring the drinks, aided and abetted by manager Anthony Moore, also late of Monopole. The 150-seat restaurant, a sepia-tinged collection of rooms lined with timber and leather banquettes, features two large eat-in bars, one of which is 12 metres long. See you there for chicken fricassée and a bottle of 2011 Jean Bourdy Côtes du Jura Rouge. Restaurant Hubert, basement, 15 Bligh St, Sydney, NSW, *restauranthubert.com
PS40 bar & factory, Sydney
**Expect: A bar and bottling clinic with serious design chops.
- Sydney bartender Michael Chiem (formerly of Sokyo, Cliff Dive and Bulletin Place) and Thor Bergquist (late of Melbourne's Der Raum and the Experimental Cocktail Club in London and New York) are behind PS Soda - a line of natural sodas, syrups and tonics served at restaurants such as Bennelong and Firedoor. Together with designer Livia Lima, the duo has come up with PS40, a new bar and "factory" set to open in Sydney's CBD that will combine a PS Soda bottling clinic and a cocktail bar under the one roof. Next door to coffee-favourite Skittle Lane, the 60-person bar will serve 10 cocktails (a Batanga, say, made with a PS wattleseed cola, a large measure of tequila, lime juice, green coffee and smoked salt) alongside Young Henrys and Wayward Brewing beers and natural wines from the likes of Gut Oggau. On the snacks side, there'll be charcuterie, terrine and a banh mi with shredded pork skin, pickled daikon, pickled carrot and house-made chicken liver pȃté.
PS40, shop 2, 40 King St, Sydney, NSW, ps-soda.com
The Dolphin Hotel, Surry Hills
**Expect: Da Orazio meets the Melbourne Wine Room at revamped pub.
- Maurice Terzini, restaurateur and fashion maverick, will add publican to his CV when the new-look Dolphin Hotel opens this month. St Kilda landmark the Melbourne Wine Room serves as a key inspiration for the venue; the pub will be split into a main public bar, an elegant dining room and a wine room that's "twisted in a mod-Italian way", says Terzini. Icebergs executive chef Monty Koludrovic is overseeing the menu, which might include everything from spaghetti with vongole or crab to Roman-style pizza and calamari Sant'Andrea. As for the vino, the wine room brief to new group sommelier James Hird is all about fun; the line-up is likely to feature a "no fuss" $4 XL5 international wine tasting glass, so you can work your way through the list start to finish. Sounds like our kind of local.
The Dolphin Hotel, 412 Crown St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9331 4800, dolphinhotel.com.au
Prince Wine Store Bar, Zetland
*Opening:*Late June Expect:*Classic wine bar food and a similar vibe to the South Melbourne mothership.
- The Prince Wine Store set up shop in Sydney's Zetland about a year ago and now it's getting its own wine bar where punters can drink wines from one of the best independent wine shops in the country at retail prices. Danielle Rensonnet, head chef of Bellota, the Prince's wine bar in South Melbourne, will oversee the Sydney menu, concentrating on standalone produce such as oysters, charcuterie and just a few heartier dishes that will change every day.
Prince Wine Store Sydney, 40 Hansard St, Zetland, NSW, (02) 9663 4665, princewinestore.com.au
Big Poppa's, Darlinghurst
**Expect: Rendezvous at the bar around two (and a truckload of other Notorious BIG references).
- Lewis Jaffrey of the Swillhouse Group (Shady Pines, The Baxter Inn, Frankie's) and The Lobo Plantation's Jared Merlino are turning late-night Darlinghurst fixture Hello Sailor into Big Poppa's, and it sounds mighty promising. Upstairs will be an Italian restaurant; the chef is yet to be named, but the focus is going to be cheese. The site is licensed till three, with the plan to serve food right the way through. Downstairs, meanwhile, will be a cocktail lounge that plays nothing but hip-hop, from Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar. (Biggie Smalls, Jaffrey reckons, "was the original big poppa".) On the drinks front there'll be a run of old classics like the Champs-Elysées, Algonquin and a Pegu Club mixed in with some "more playful" drinks like pimped-up versions of the West Indies Yellow Bird and a Sunshine Fizz. Juicy.
Big Poppa's, 96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, NSW
Opening:*September or October
**Expect: Earl's louder, fatter long lost brother à la Rodney Dangerfield in a Hawaiian shirt.
- From the team that brought us Earl's Juke Joint, Jacoby's will pay tribute to the darker, noir aspects of tiki culture when it opens this spring. The bar takes its name from a character in David Lynch's '90s television series, Twin Peaks: Dr Lawrence Jacoby, a well-known tiki enthusiast. The drinks focus will be firmly on rum classics, and remixing lesser-known tiki drinks from the '50s. All the syrups and shrubs will be made in-house, and the succinct wine list will focus on rosé and orange wines, "echoing the hues of a Hawaiian sunset", says bartender and co-owner Pasan Wijesena. Toasted sandwiches will provide ballast.
Jacoby's, 154 Enmore Rd, Enmore, NSW
Beta Bar, CBD
**Expect:** Greek mezze and Dirty Greek Martinis above Alpha restaurant on Castlereagh St.
- With a modern take on Greek mezze, Beta Bar will open above Alpha restaurant in June, offering a drink-and-snack option for those not after a full Greek feast downstairs. Expect small dishes matched with cocktails, like red mullet grilled on lemon leaves with spanakorizo rice and green-almond "saltsa" with a Dry Tai (gin, ginger, Campari and lime), or feta custard and duck-skin crisps with a Dirty Greek Martini (vodka, cucumber and tomato tea, French vermouth and crushed Volos olives). There'll be a separate private dining room and a glass-encased courtyard featuring a 10-person chef's table and a sunken fire-pit for spit-roasting meats.
Beta Bar, level 1, 238 Castlereagh St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9098 1111