Pastel Wine Bar
Pastel is a slick watering hole (in the former L’Italy site) that joined O’Connell Street’s eclectic mix of old pubs, Italian cafes and fast-casual eateries in 2022.
It’s the brainchild of Daniel Vaughn (of 1000 Island), Elijah Makris and Saba Maghsoudi (of Pinco Deli and design agency 2049) and artist and designer James Brown, who together wanted to bring new energy to the strip. They envisioned a moodily-lit spot that served as a refuge from the city hustle.
That vision has certainly come to life. The space has retro-ish nutmeg and tobacco-coloured timber panelling and exposed white brick, which sit against the marble counters from its time as L’Italy, and custom sconce lighting and abstract artwork. The cosy front room belies the size of the place; a second room with more seating leads to an enclosed courtyard out the back, with bench seating, a DJ booth and a heap of greenery. But if you’re after an intimate spot, you’ll want to sit at the bar for premium vibes, where DJs set up nightly next to the warm red glow of a well-positioned lamp.
Head chefs Darek Krzywdzinski (ex-Peel St) and Nathan Liu (ex-Gin Long Canteen) lead the globetrotting menu, which traverses Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. There are the usual wine bar suspects: you might find whipped ricotta with fried walnuts, za’atar, honey and grilled focaccia; kingfish sashimi with nam jim and crispy shallot; and Ortiz anchovy fingers with soft boiled egg, pickled fennel and aioli; and more.
The food is backed by an approachable wine list (of more than 140 bottles) devoted to low-intervention and more conventional drops. There are also house cocktails – including a Negroni made with peach wine and grapefruit oil and a “Disco Martini” with falernum, orange bitter and lemon oil – alongside a couple of classics.
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