In Sydney, being hungry after midnight is a sad predicament due to lack of choice. We’re often forced down the neon-lit fast-food path, or into Chinatown for a reliable Golden Century or Korean BBQ fix. There are still a few other late-night haunts around, but the lockout laws haven’t been kind to them.
Enter Big Poppa’s. Soon to take over the old Hello Sailor site on Oxford Street, it’s an Italian-food-serving, hip-hop-tunes-playing, cocktail-slinging late-night restaurant run by Swillhouse Group’s (Shady Pines, The Baxter Inn, Frankie’s) Lewis Jaffrey, and The Lobo Plantation's Jared Merlino. It will serve plates and drinks until 3am.
“People can come into our restaurant at 2.30am and have a cocktail without ordering any food,” Scottish-born Jaffrey says.
A PSA (Primary Service Authorisation), which came with the site’s existing late-night restaurant license, made it a no-brainer for the pair, who have been close friends since meeting on the job at the Ivy Pool Club six years ago.
“Pretty much every time we hung out, we found ourselves drinking bottles and bottles of rosé, eating lots of cheese and listening to hip-hop. We came to the realisation that this is what mature adults in their mid-thirties like to do together.”
Plush cocktail lounges and a bar will give downstairs a relaxed, cosy vibe. Roomy banquets and bare brick will feature in the main restaurant space upstairs. The menu will centre on cheese, with up to 30 varieties on rotation at any given time – offered standalone or through simple, seasonal Italian plates – melted and cold.
Around 200 wines will be on the list (rosé will be well-represented), half of which will be Italian. Cocktails mixed upstairs will have an Italian focus, too, such as the refreshing Venetian aperitif, Sgroppino.
“It’s made from prosecco and sorbet and is delicious. You need a blender to do them and a lot of bars are too cool for blenders. We are not too cool for blenders.”
The playlist will be hip-hop exclusively, covering tracks from the ’70s to present day: ’90s Talib Kweli, Grandmaster Flash and Mos Def.
Big Poppa’s is slated to open late June.