The 2018 opening of Ode added further confusion to the conversation around what the difference between a restaurant and wine bar is. Both the wine and food here are worth your attention.
The kitchen is headed up by one of the owners, Ben Abiad. He trained at Sydney dining institute Sean’s Panaroma; was one of the guys that set up Brickfields; and before moving to Ode was working the pans at Potts Point’s Dear Sainte Eloise, another wine bar-diner hybrid.
The food he does here is European in style, and he uses a charcoal robata grill to add dimension. Scallops are served with rosemary sauce; perfectly smoked, plump mussels are heaped on toast spread with a garlic aioli; and pillows of spinach and ricotta gnocchi come in a parmesan broth with shiitake mushrooms and gorgonzola (all pasta is handmade).
On the weekend Ode opens at 9am, but this isn’t a straight-up egg-and-bacon place. There’s smoked eggplant and pickled onion added to the avocado toast (Ode uses Iggy’s bread), and at brunch there are dishes such as chicken broth with cavolo nero, faro and a soft-boiled egg. (Coffee is by Mecca). There’s confidence in the kitchen that makes a solid case for defining this place as a restaurant.
But also vying for your consideration is a sophisticated wine list. It sits within the minimal-intervention space and traverses the mineral-heavy soils of Mount Etna in Sicily to the foothills of the Pyrenees in France and the warm, salty shores of Margaret River.
Artist, industrial designer and co-owner Benedict Mauricea didn’t mess too much with the structure of the old Panama House space, but has added a handful of objects and tables built by the team using recycled materials. The bar, for example, was made using blue gum sleepers salvaged from La Perouse wharf, in Sydney’s south.
And with lighting that is warm, tables that nuzzle close and food you want to eat often, the team has pulled together an intimate bar-slash-restaurant. Or maybe that’s a restaurant-slash-bar.