As one door closes, another opens on Holt Street in Surry Hills.
Those still reeling from the news of MoVida Sydney's closure at the end of June will breathe a sigh of relief at the news that the Porteño team will take over the site on Holt Street, opening for business come October. They're taking reservations already.
Porteño's Cleveland Street address isn't closing; it will transform into a permanent function space for private events, weddings and live music gigs.
So, why the move? "We were getting so many requests for weddings and events at the Cleveland Street site that it was hard to keep the restaurant a priority," says Porteño's Sarah Doyle. "We've always wanted to do live music, and we have a lot of friends in that industry that are keen to play there. It also has a 3am licence, so it made sense."
Construction on the Holt Street space will start in July, though Doyle admits the site was so well-built and cared for by the MoVida team that there's not much to be done. "We're going to have a cellar and a private dining room," she says. "The space is really beautiful. It also has a refrigerated bin room! That's the fanciest thing I've ever heard. The extraction is already in there, so it will be great for what we do."
Doyle adds that both Porteño's parilla and asado fire pit will make the move to the new site.
Doyle and chef Elvis Abrahanowicz are flying out to Argentina on Monday for a two-week trip to research and re-inspire themselves, while chef Ben Milgate holds the fort. "We haven't had a break in three years. It's a good excuse to go over and see what we find and get back to what we love about Argentina, which is everything," says Doyle.
Menu changes are afoot, which the team can't speak of yet, but Doyle insists the classics will remain. "There's no way we can take those Brussels sprouts away," she says. Though the MoVida team did cite low foot-traffic issues as one of the reasons for closure, the Porteño crew isn't too worried. "I think Sydney's become a bit more savvy than that now - people seek things out, they'll find us. There's definitely value in foot traffic, but when we opened Bodega it was a wasteland. We just made it work. [The Holt St venue] is a really beautiful space; that whole building is so well done. It can't be any worse than Cleveland Street."
Porteño at 358 Cleveland Street will remain open as a restaurant until October, when the new site opens, 50 Holt St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 8399 1440, porteno.com.au