When the Sydney Metro takes over a swathe of buildings around Hunter Street in the CBD we’ll be losing a bunch of beloved venues, including Frankie’s Pizza and Malay Chinese Takeaway. But there’s a silver lining: a new pop-up bar is set to go into a building scheduled for Metro-related demolition in late 2022. And it’s from a group of seven Sydney hospo superstars.
About Time will open on the corner of Hunter and Bligh streets once lockdown ends, and is a collaboration between Ben Hickey and Naomi Palmer (owners of The Roosevelt), Steve Davis (venue manager at Opera Bar), Tom Price (The Baxter Inn), Jono Carr (ex-group bar manager at Liquid and Larder), Paul Oscar (ambassador of Stone & Wood) and Shannon Ponsford (head of wine at a big wine importer).
The bar is positioned right near basement venues Restaurant Hubert, Frankie’s and Spice Temple – but unlike them, it’ll have a patio for al fresco drinking and dining, which will be open until 1am. The varied experiences of all the owners will be put to good use, with fun cocktails, a food menu that nods to classic Australiana and a carefully selected, regularly updated wine menu.
“While we all met back in the nightclub days of Kings Cross, our careers since have been different, so we all draw on that collective expertise to fill different roles in the venue,” Hickey tells Broadsheet. “We have divided up roles between us, but to be honest, once we viewed the site we were pretty much all on the same page as to what we wanted to build. It’s been very collaborative.”
Drinks-wise, there’ll be boozy spins on the classic servo slushie – including a frozen Irish coffee and a Frosty Fruit-inspired slushie. Carr – who has been behind the bar at venues including The Gidley, Grandma’s and The Wild Rover – is on cocktail duty; expect creations such as the Pavlova Milk Punch and a Rocky Road Old Fashioned. There’ll be spritzes on tap and the often-changing wine list will include Australian and European drops. Price and Hickey will oversee the spirits range, while Oscar is all over the tapped beer and craft tinnies selection.
Chef Benji Llewellyn from The Roosevelt has been brought in to look after the food menu, which takes cues from ’90s dinner-party classics. Expect pork, lamb and veggies roasted over a coal fire to be served in sandwiches or on share plates. There’ll also be house-made French-onion dip with Jatz. And, of course, the most ’90s of desserts: the Viennetta.
That nostalgia for ’90s Australiana subtly stretches to the venue’s decor as well: it’ll feel a bit like a Queenslander, with retro pastels abundant. The music will also be ’90s tinged.
As for the name? It works double duty: “It’s a bit of a play on the fact that we will be only around for a short time, but is also a reference to the fact it’s about time we opened a bar together,” says Hickey, who also hints that, if this venue is a hit, it could lead to another joint venture in the future.