The grand surrounds of the Queen Victoria Building will be home to two new late-night venues – a first for the opulent 120-year-old building. One will be a restaurant and bar, the other a champagne parlour and bar. Both will be open until 2am from Thursday to Sunday, and until midnight the rest of the time.
Reign at the QVB will be the first to launch, on March 15, in the level-one space that was once the ABC store. The light-filled room has come a long way from Bananas in Pyjamas DVDs and cookbooks; it’s been kitted out in marble and brass, with pink chairs to seat 140, and soaring ceilings.
It’ll be selling more than 150 champagnes and sparkling wines from some of France’s most renowned producers as well as hard-to-find craft drops. One of the cocktails to enjoy in the plush and pretty room is The Hummingbird, a combination of Young’s Noble Cut Gin, elderflower liqueur, lemongrass, citrus and lavender bitters.
Reign will also have a pretty posh food menu. There’s chive crumpets with duck liver parfait, goat’s cheese tortellini with watercress pesto and olives, and a thyme and honey ice-cream sandwich. A sommelier – Fabio Nistrio, formerly of Sokyo and Bambini Trust Restaurant and Wine Room – will be on standby to match your snacks to your sparkling.
It will be open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays serving king brown mushroom and pork fried rice; smoked salmon crème fraiche with pikelets and salmon roe; and ricotta fritters with orange, chocolate mousse and aged sherry ice-cream.
Esquire is the second opening, on March 22. Inspired by New York supper clubs, this space will embrace the QVB’s grand Romanesque-revival architecture with a handsome oak bar, parquet floors and plenty of leather.
It’s a spot that feels like it should be used for sipping whisky and discussing stocks. Fittingly, it will be pouring more than 180 whiskies, as well as 200 wines from around the world. It will employ Coravin technology, which allows the bar to preserve open bottles of wine longer by pouring without removing the cork, meaning more fancy bottles will be available by the glass.
Cocktails on Esquire’s menu include Sheep in Wolves Clothing, which is a curious elixir of duck fat-infused spiced rum, barley, pandan syrup and bitters. Another cocktail, The Dance, combines Beefeater gin, cognac, Chartreuse, apricot and Spanish onion shrub, bee pollen, and watercress.
The bar menu will be all about light bites such as antipasti and oysters, but the main dining menu is suitably hearty. It’ll be seasonal and feature meaty dishes such as crumbed sweet breads, a whole roast chicken served over two courses (confit chicken leg salad for entrée, breast for main), as well as a 250-gram rump cap. The chef’s table menu has 10 dishes and will set you back a fairly reasonable $65 for everything from entrée to dessert.
If you fancy a late-night snack to soak up all those excellent-sounding drinks, there’s a Gruyere jaffle that has our names written all over it.
Both the venues are from the Trippas White Group, which looks after venues across Australia including the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Walsh Bay Kitchen and Centennial Homestead in Centennial Park. Damien Worthington will be executive chef of both kitchens; he’s coming over from The Pavilion on the Domain. He’s previously worked at The Winery and the QT hotel in both Sydney and Canberra.
Reign at the QVB is slated to open on March 15 and Esquire Drink + Dine on March 28.