Leigh Street Wine Room
Leigh Street Wine Room (LSWR) is in a space that formerly housed a longstanding city drycleaner – and there’s not a trace of the former tenant. Well, save for the signage outside: a bright light box which beams out the words "dry cleaners".
The rest of the site features a mezzanine, a terrazzo bar and floor, exposed acoustic wall panelling, and – the piece de resistance – a striking, lofty archway that runs the length of the room. It’s the first thing you’ll notice when you walk through the door, until you spot the wall of wine – 400-odd bottles of minimal-intervention drops selected by Sali’s Sydney-born-and-bred husband Nathan Sasi, who’s also the chef and co-owner.
Nathan (who opened Sydney diner Mercado in 2016) was most recently executive chef at Oliver Brown’s Big Easy Group venues: NOLA, The Stag, Yiasou George (previously Charlick’s) and Anchovy Bandit. You’ll now find him in LSWR’s tiny two-person kitchen – flanked by former Charlick’s chef Blake Drinkwater – butchering all his own meat and turning out house-made charcuterie, cheese and bread.
The intimate wine bar is a celebration of natural drops. The huge list (with 12 wines available by the glass) homes in on Australian, French and Italian wines, with a healthy contribution from the Adelaide Hills. The list is wide-ranging, from a $50 house sauvignon blanc (with a hint of chardonnay) made in collaboration with Gentle Folk, to a $600 bottle of Valentini, considered one of the greatest producers in Italy.
Although LSWR’s calling card is wine, the food is equally impressive. The European-leaning menu is designed to complement the drinks: there’s chicken-liver parfait with vermouth jelly, and crumbed, fried cubes of pigs head with aioli and “Zuni-style” pickles (inspired by San Francisco’s Zuni Café). There’s also whipped cod’s roe dip served with puffed-rice crackers sprinkled with dehydrated seaweed; sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi (cacio e pepe style); and rigatoni with tripe and sweetbreads. A selection of cured meats – including mortadella, bresaola made from Mayura Wagyu, capicollo, and fennel-and-white-wine salami – are made in-house.