Postado em segunda-feira, 11 de setembro de 2023 07:54

A wine bar is a familiar concept to the dining public. It’s a place to drink far and wide from a menu that lists a handful of snacks and perhaps a plate of pasta for something a little more substantial. But the wine bars of today are very different to the original format, with fine-dining finesse repackaged into a format that prioritises good times and even better food.

Bar Copains in Surry Hills and Bar Lucia in Potts Point are two of the latest additions to the Sydney wine bar scene. Both welcome bookings and walk-ins, showcase minimal-intervention winemakers and have a snack heavy menu that requires a mandatory second (or third) visit.

Hospitality looks at the two city-dwellers, covering menu format, signature plates and how they are putting local drops front and centre.

Bar Copains

Bar Copains is brought to you by the whip team of Chefs Morgan McGlone and Nathan Sasi and Sali Sasi. The culinary talents have spearheaded some of the most recognisable venues in Sydney and beyond, with McGlone founding
Belles Hot Chicken and Sasi opening Nomad before moving into the kitchens of Mercado and Leigh Street Wine Room in Adelaide.

The long-time friends decided to launch Bar Copains (French for friends) in Surry Hills. The venue opened its doors in December last year and is a cumulation of decades of culinary and business experience. It’s evident as soon as you walk in the door and take a seat in the slick dining room (or at the curved bar), and further illustrated by the extensive wine list and McGlone-made ceramics.

One of the defining aspects of the bar’s front dining room is its size — it’s compact in a good way. Round tables are flanked by stools and banquette seating and there’s a constant buzz and atmospheric hum that comes with a full space.

Accents of green connect the bar to the dining room and bottles of wine are as decorative as they are educative. The small things at Copains contribute to the dining experience in a big way — a shelf for bottles flicks out from under the table and ceramic water vessels are cosied up with a tiny doily; oh-so cute.

On the food front, there’s a chef ’s menu priced at $85pp or diners can take the à la carte route and stack up the snacks. The house focaccia is only available twice a week, and is a must-order.

Marinated olives, fried padron peppers with sea salt and whipped cod’s roe served with a bowl of potato chips are all staple dishes, but the choux bun filled with comté custard and mustard has quickly become one of the most popular options followed by a slither of puff pastry topped with olive, onion and anchovy.

The menu moves into more substantial snack territory thereafter. Pig’s head fritti comes with a piquant-y sauce gribiche that can be finished off with any leftover focaccia. There’s also a plate of cured meats; crispy eggplant with tomato jam and salted ricotta; chicken liver parfait with brioche and summer tomatoes teamed with watermelon and goat’s curd. The King George whiting sandwich is a serious contender for top dish — an elevated take on the fast-food staple.

‘Mains’ are protein-centric, charting pipis with chorizo, sea blite and garlic toast; casarecce with cavolo nero pesto and stracciatella; BBQ Murray cod with corn and togarashi and Wagyu flank served with house condiments. One side is mandatory — the potato scallops with sour cream and chives are a throwback to the classic fish and chip shop staple executed on a whole new level.

There are three desserts at Copains, and one has been a front runner from the start: the amaro crème caramel. If custard isn’t your thing, there’s a mille feuille with rhubarb and custard or Cherry Ripe ice cream for a cold finish.

McGlone and Sasi are both avid wine collectors and have a cumulative cellar that’s got to be one of the most unique in Sydney. Christian Robertson is behind the list which spans many, many pages that largely lean towards the minimal-intervention category. From Chablis and Beaujolais to a section dedicated to rare bottles you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else, Copains is a place for drinking well.

It’s also one where you can drop in for a glass of wine at 4pm on a Monday or sit down for a long lunch on Sunday. Open for walk-ins and bookings, Copains’ operating hours are a reflection of a more low-key business approach that allows people to eat and drink out of conventional hours.

The venue is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and is open till late every other day. The mural outside Copains reads “your friendly neighbourhood wine bar”, and it certainly delivers on the messaging. As McGlone aptly put it in a recent Instagram post: “We are not a restaurant, just a small wine bar serving wines we like to drink and food we love to eat”.

Bar Lucia

The Milpa Collective launched in 2017, with Founders Pablo Galindo Vargas and Liber Osorio creating the group with a mission in mind: to change the way Sydneysiders think about Mexican and Latin American cuisine. The pair have gone on to launch seven restaurants that are currently in operation, with their latest venue Bar Lucia taking the place of Casa Merida on Kellett Street in Potts Point.

Bar Lucia sits under Vina Collective, a sibling group of Milpa, and emblemises a
new style of venue for Galindo Vargas and Osorio. Lucia is billed as a wine bar that offers Spanish-style tapas and a wine list that mainly showcases drops made by female winemakers. “It has been many months of discussions and planning,” they say. “It will be the next ‘pop in for a glass of wine’ hotspot.”

Mexican-born Alberto Palacios has taken on the role of head chef at the bar and has put together a menu that works for one guest or groups. Jamon Serrano and jamon Iberico are listed first on the menu for good reason and can be ordered with rye sourdough and cultivated butter. Olives naturally make an appearance as well as tuna tartare with Moroccan eggplant, cumin mayo and harissa.

Small plates cover seafood and other proteins such as oysters with Alta Alella cava
mignonette; roasted scallops with saffron butter and ox tongue with salsa pintxo and salsa verde. There’s a section of the menu dedicated to one of the greatest snacks of all time: the croquette, with diners able to select from crab, jamon Serrano or spinach and Idiazabal cheese.

BBQ dishes have been having a moment for a while now, and Bar Lucia have a few options that dial up the char factor. Sardines are teamed with spicy mint and cucumber salsa, with an octopus plate served with black olives and red capsicum sauce.

The aforementioned dishes are part of the larger plates section of the menu, which also lists Catalan-style cannelloni, roasted pork belly with Swiss chard and raisin sauce and a 150g MB9 Wagyu steak with Pedro Ximenez jus.

Kasia Sobiesiak is Bar Lucia’s head sommelier and also works as a wine writer and wine educator. She says the promotion of female winemakers is integral to her own philosophy, creating Bar Lucia’s list according to the ethos. “Promoting female winemakers and supporting local wine regions is a priority for me,” says Sobiesiak. “I
like to foster a balance between fine, modern classics, artisan and low-intervention leads.”

There are more than 50 wines available at Lucia, covering a range of varieties across bottle and glass. The wine menu is made up of drops almost exclusively produced by women in Australia as well as others from France, Italy and beyond — take Stephanie Toole’s Nero d’Avola or Corinna Wright’s Shiraz made in McLaren Vale, South Australia.

The beverage offering also includes cocktails spearheaded by Luna Ercoli, who focuses on implementing waste-minimising practices when it comes to drinks. “Learning from Jean Thinh from Alquimico has enhanced my knowledge on bar sustainability, which will be transferred to my time at Bar Lucia,” she says.

Ercoli has masterminded cocktails including Lucia’s Cheesecake, which sees the head bartender infuse vodka with cheesecake, homemade jam and blueberry shrub, while the Dos de Picas is a riff on a spritz and combines vodka with hazelnut cordial and ginger beer. In essence, there’s a drink and a snack for any patron — no matter their proclivity.


by Annabelle Cloros | Hospitality Magazine