There isn’t a single drink on the first couple of pages of Bar Clementine’s menu. First there’s an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land, then a Theodore Roosevelt quote (“Comparison is the thief of joy”), followed by a full-page foreword starting with “I do not believe in cheap wine”.

That’s one way to show people your wine bar isn’t a regular booze counter. The other is to serve good stuff.

For Eric Mendoza and his partner Monica-Paula Zotti, that statement doesn’t necessarily mean wine that’s expensive – rather wines that are made with authenticity and integrity.

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That equates to 13 wines by the glass and 20 by the bottle – most are Australian, many are French, and several are natural, but there are no rules on provenance or style. More options, both by the glass and by the bottle, will be added in the future. “I would like to get to 50 wines,” he says.

Like the wine list, the food defies categorisation. Before Mendoza opened Bar Clementine he founded and ran Clementine cafe (just a few doors down the road), and before that was a sommelier at Bloodwood (he’s also worked at Porteño and Baxter Inn). He’s recruited Craig Gray (ex-Bishop Sessa) and Antonio Zotti (ex-Porteno and Gelato Messina) to run the kitchen.

Charcuterie and cheese platters feature here, as you’d expect, but the menu soon meanders into much more creative territory. Egg with gochujang (fermented Korean chilli paste) and uni (Japanese) sea urchin) is a flavour-packed one-bite snack; lamb backstrap, kipfler, enoki and “poor man’s caviar” (fish roe) is like a fancy meat and three veg. “Craig’s preference [for the bar’s food] is definitely French but I’d say it’s modern Australian. It’s got French execution with some Korean accents,” says Mendoza.

Bar Clementine looks like a wine bar from another decade. The Brad Swartz design includes a luxurious timber-backed marble bar that wraps around one side of the venue. The other side is elegant timber table seating. The interior is flooded with natural light from the big, window-fronted facade.

“A lot of people say [the look] is ’70s; personally I don't think it is … I wanted an Art Deco-inspired setting, but not so Great Gatsby,” says Mendoza.

Bar Clementine
1/52 Harris St, Pyrmont
(02) 8591 3660

Hours:
Wed to Sat 12pm–9.30pm