But ever since chef Philippa Sibley and Albert St Food and Wine left the strip, good wine and the food that goes with it have been notably absent.
Enter Rascal, with 120 wines, 60 beers, a credible cocktail menu and the kind of refined-yet-accessible food found in wine bars across town.
Chef Elliot Pinn was head chef for two years at fine diner Doot Doot Doot on the Peninsula. And before that, he was pastry chef at Sepia, one of Sydney’s best restaurants. This experience is manifest in the menu’s from-scratch ethos (the salami, ’nduja and bresaola are house-made), the tidy presentation of each dish (pastry chefs are known for their fastidiousness) and even the use of “fancy” ingredients such as bee pollen and black garlic.
While the menu is nominally European, many dishes have Asian accents. That bresaola is flavoured with five spice. Kingfish gets a touch of funk from Japanese dashi stock made with blueberries. Chunks of fried chicken are battered tempura-style and served with vibrant green hot sauce (add caviar for $20). And roasted cauliflower, so ubiquitous in restaurants right now, feels fresh again when teamed with pistachio, tamarind and little brown pools of curry oil.
The wine list is a fine match for Pinn’s eclecticism. Look for old faithfuls such as Clare Valley riesling (from Adelina or Jeanneret) and Barossa shiraz (Teusner, Eden Hall), plus quirkier entries such as Ravensworth’s Murrumbateman cabernet franc/sauvignon blanc and Dormilona’s Margaret River chenin blanc pét-nat. The European selection is also strong, whether you’re talking aromatic German whites or juicy Spanish reds.
Beer drinkers are sorted with pale ales, IPAs, sours and dark beers from breweries in the US and the Antipodes, and whisky connoisseurs are in for a pleasant surprise – thanks to the abundance of rare Japanese bottles on offer here.