“Are you still doing the aged-Comte toasties?” a woman asks as she approaches the bar. The answer is yes and she orders two to take away. Two men sit at a corner table enjoying glasses of red wine with cold cuts and pickles. Light from the north-facing windows fills the room of this mid-century-European-inspired bar.
Adam Sime (LongPlay) describes his new bar, Amarillo, as the “exact place” he wants to eat and drink on a Saturday night. He says the goal was to create something timeless and classic. Walking in, you’re hit with a sense of the kind of simple but effortlessly stylish bars you find in Italy.
Shaun Clancy, who has previously worked with Philippa Sibley at Prix Fixe and Matt Wilkinson at Circa, handles the food. His menu is designed to be shared and includes dishes such as oysters, anchovies on little toasts, a plate of mussels and larger rotating specials. When we visit those larger meals included rabbit and lentil pie, and a cuttlefish and white bean salad. Clancy says his menu will evolve as he gets familiar with the space.
And the toasties? Clancy says the thick slabs of brioche with bechamel, aged-Comte and mustard were supposed to come off the menu a few days ago, but they’re such a hit they’ve even received fan mail about them (a customer emailed to say they’re so good they ruined her diet).
Donough Benson, whose resume includes Union Electric and Neapoli, is behind the cocktails and he’s taken the classic vibe and run with it. Favourites such as Martinis and Negronis sit next to modern classics like the Penicillin (warm whisky with house-made ginger syrup, honey and lemon) and forgotten gems such as a Cat’s Pyjamas (gin, Cocchi Americano and grapefruit).
Wine and beer is in the hands of Daniel Rosette, who has spent time at City Wine Shop and Kirk's. Rosette highlights local breweries such as Stomping Ground and Blackman’s, and the wine list has European heavyweights from Champagne and Tuscany side by side with small Australian producers.
And while golden light shades, soft leather and rabbit pies make for warming vibes at night, Sime says he can’t wait for the change of seasons.
“Come summertime, I’m looking forward to sitting at the tables on Hanover Street as the sun goes down, with a Campari spritz in my hand.”
149 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Wed to Sun 10am–11pm