Almost three years after opening The Hazy Rose in the upstairs section of an old Darlinghurst terrace on Stanley Street, co-owners and father-daughter team, Derek and Dominique Easter have opened Downstairs, a new restaurant beneath the bar serving hearty British fare to the hungry drinkers above.
“Stanley Street already had plenty of Italian, European and Asian restaurants, plus most of the team have UK heritage, so British food was something we’ve been thinking about for a while,” says restaurant manager, Olivia Rockwell. Essex-born chef Ben Allcock runs the kitchen. His seasonally changing menu is full of comforting classics from his homeland, such as chargrilled spatchcock; smoked ham hock; and even a twice-cooked veal tongue.
Despite the meat-heavy menu, vegetarians are looked after. There is a creamy Irish colcannon, served with roast leeks and a pea purée. “We want to make sure anyone can come in and be well fed,” says Rockwell. While dinner is served from 5pm most days, on Sundays Downstairs opens at noon to serve a full Sunday roast with all the trimmings, including Allcock’s house-made black pudding.
Desserts include a peach melba that goes beyond any home-style version by adding vanilla bavarois, raspberry sorbet and shortbread crumble. There is also a banoffee-style parfait and a good-old lemon tart.
Cocktail requests will be taken care of upstairs, or choose from wines handpicked by Dominique and Rockwell, with a range from Mudgee to Austria. “We’re wine weirdos – we like things that are unusual and different and we wanted to offer something that no one else does,” says Rockwell.
A full English breakfast is on the cards for Saturday mornings. And with train-carriage-style booths, with their own curtains for privacy, any shady mornings after can be discreetly taken care of. Then perhaps head upstairs for an expertly shaken hair of the dog.