Set within Carlton’s leafy Rathdowne Village, Henry Sugar is the kind of bar and eatery every neighbourhood should have.

It’s sophisticated yet relaxed, with a refined food and drink offering that draws on the combined resume of its two co-owners: Michael Baker was previously a chef Fitzroy’s Hell of the North and former world’s best restaurant El Celler de Can Roca and Daniel Mason has done stints behind the bar at Joe Taylor, Cookie and the Toff in Town.

Though there’s some seriously sharp cooking on the menu, there’s a sense of fun to it all. Australian twists are given to classic dishes, and there’s a huge focus on native ingredients. Produce is sourced as locally as possible.

To start, you might order some appellation oysters with desert lime vinaigrette and some butterflied prawns doused in lemon myrtle butter. Follow up with large plates like barbequed kangaroo skewers with blueberry and mountain pepper; and hapuka with preserved lemon, muntries and Geraldton Wax. Sweets include macadamia-miso ice-cream with pear and wattleseed, and a classic crème brûlée.

Native ingredients also feature heavily in cocktails: strawberry gun, wattleseed, mountain pepper leaf and more. The wine list is exclusively minimal-intervention; backed up by small-scale breweries on the beer side.

Baker and Mason kept the fit-out simple, with a charcoal-coloured concrete bar in the centre of the space and a fireplace that roars in winter. When it’s warm, the bustling terrace is the place to be. DJs spin vinyl four nights a week, adding a casual vibe to this otherwise sophisticated spot.

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Updated: February 3rd, 2023

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