Pyrmont is home to many things: award-winning restaurants (hello, Momofuku Seiobo), a large casino, several media companies and a handful of hotels. Now one of those hotels has opened the type of neighbourhood wine bar that was conspicuously absent in a suburb dense with apartments and located just two kilometres from Sydney's CBD.
Technically, Mister Percy is the lobby bar of Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour, the 90-room hotel that occupies a former wool store in the once-industrial neighbourhood. But Percy aims to shrug off all the stereotypes associated with the genre. Where you might expect drab décor and beige drinks, instead you'll find a thoughtfully compiled wine list, terrazzo floors and deliberately mismatched furniture in a space designed by Luchetti Krelle, the firm behind venues such as Hotel Centennial, Banksii and The Byron at Byron.
Like venues at other Ovolo Hotels properties, the wine bar is designed as much for locals as it is hotel guests. There's a separate entrance, a frequently changing menu and prices on par with those across the city.
"There are the really shiny places in Pyrmont but having something small and quirky is a bit of a first," chef Justin North says.
North has collaborated with Luca Guiotto (of A Tavola and Catalina fame) on Mister Percy's menu, which is a mix of Mediterranean influences, Sardinian, Basque and Provence among them. The pair was originally planning a pinxos bar in the tradition of those found in San Sebastiàn, but decided to broaden the focus to better suit Sydney's climate.
"A lot of the base to our cuisine is based on those Mediterranean ingredients," North says, pointing to the high quality olive oil and Sorbello tomatoes that are now being produced in Australia. Burrata from Vannella Cheese, La Boqueria chorizo and Woodside Cheese Wrights goat's curd are among the local produce North and Guiotto have sought out.
The carte is divided into pinchos (the word used across Spain for skewered snacks) and share plates, which range from schiacciata with whipped hummus to grilled spitchcock, gnochetti Sardi and char-grilled Scotch fillet. Techniques and ingredients come from all corners of the Mediterranean. There's tuna crudo served with guindilla peppers native to the Basque region and crushed peas alongside handmade tortelli stuffed with a mix of haloumi and ricotta and finished with brown butter.
The exhaustive wine list is a similar mix of Italian, Spanish and French, with local names also in the mix. Quartino – 250ml carafes – are a focus but for those staying a while, there's no shortage of bottles of lesser-seen varieties like garganega and picquepoul blanc. A tight list of eight signature cocktails is complemented by classics like an Old Fashioned and a handful of Spritzes.
Some suburbs are fortunate enough to have a wine bar for every night of the week. Lucky for Pyrmont residents, Mister Percy is open seven nights.
Mister Percy, 139 Murray St, Pyrmont, Sydney, NSW, (02) 8586 1888, misterpercy.com.au. Mon-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-10pm.