After 10 years of good times on Campbell Street, Surry Hills Irish bar The Wild Rover was in need of a polish. Now known simply as The Rover, the Liquid and Larder group (Bistecca, The Gidley) have retained the place's reputation for good craic and good drinks – but the concept is more refined than ever, with a neighbourhood restaurant upstairs channeling the bistros of East London.
That formidable whisky collection still lives downstairs, along with the outstanding cocktails that first put the venue on the map. When Broadsheet visited, highlights included the Estuary Martini (Never Never Oyster Shell Gin, blanc vermouth, dry sherry, champagne mignonette) and the Glassjaw (Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky, banana, yuzu, elote, honey, citrus, whey). You’ll also find two beers by Sydney Brewery on tap (ask for the black ‘n’ tan), and a wine list that includes more than 50 drops – mostly biodynamic and organic.
Whether you’re snacking in the bar or pushing the boat out at the restaurant, executive chef Pip Pratt draws on his British heritage for the Rover's seafood-driven menus. A rotation of oysters from the east coast’s top estuaries served with champagne mignonette is a highlight no matter where you sit – but the restaurant’s fisherman’s pie and whole flathead with clams and garlic are worth booking in for.
At its core, the space remains the same – the banquettes are a little more plush and velvet-y, and a dramatic floral installation spills across an exposed-brick wall. But while the bar was once famously hidden from the street, with blacked-out windows and a heavy wooden door, it now opens onto the pavement and the windows allow you to peek inside.
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