In true bootlegging style, Love Tilly Devine might be a trick to find, but it’s still the hottest ticket in town. Its namesake, Sydney’s notorious crime boss of the late 1920s, would be proud.
With the spate of small bars opening on every corner in Darlinghurst (this one seats 40), it takes something special to stand out. So when chef Tim Webber (ex-Sean’s Panaroma) and sommelier Matt Swieboda (ex-Quay) converted the dank little storeroom of Best Cellars, they nailed it. All rough timber, hanging ferns, kitchen bric-a-brac and tête-à-tête tables, the convict feel can’t help but evoke a sense of romantic nostalgia.
Wine is serious business here, with just shy of 300 offerings from Melon de Bourgogne to nebiolo. There’s real passion for flavour – if you don’t ask about your beverage, you’ll miss a swill of education.
Like the booze list, the menu is devoted to flavours with provenance. Options might be limited, but they’re seasonal and perfectly executed. Try octopus slow roasted in natural wine, or mixed artisan salamis.
Spilt-level with a wine-wall, bar and open-kitchen in the front room, the best seat is by the alleyway window, watching the queue of shady characters at the door. So put your name on the list and see if you’ll be admitted to Tilly’s den. What’s not to love?