The holiday season has only just ended but if you, like us, are already dreaming of your next getaway, Saga could be the mini break you need.
You’ll find Chippendale’s latest bar behind two ornate hand-carved wooden doors just a few twists and turns away from Kensington Street. “Saga is a [mythical] deserted island drifting somewhere in-between Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, and you can find influences from each,” explains director of operations Vanessa Bautista of the bar’s concept.
The bar looks like it could have been in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The intimate space is lit by lanterns hanging from vines and roots that sprawl across moodily lit stone-stacked walls. There’s a water feature with a huge buddha head, an illuminated technicolor jungle motif, and the bathrooms are adorned in gold-leaf and mosaics.
You can’t quite pinpoint where in the world you are supposed to be, but it’s definitely far away from Sydney.
The design creativity is matched by the quality of drinks and food. Bar manager Quinton Seeto’s (The Barber Shop, Cafe Sydney, Bodhi Restaurant and Bar) cocktail list will eventually change weekly, but at the moment you can get Musk of Dusk (Francois Voyer 5YO cognac, Oscars 697 Bianco vermouth, lime juice, rose syrup, watermelon juice, dill) and a Saga Colada (rum, Malibu, pineapple juice, coconut syrup and cream).
“Quinton makes everything from scratch. The juices are all cold-pressed and our syrups, like the chilli-saffron one, are made in-house in the sous-vide,” Bautista tells Broadsheet.
Seeto knows that these days boozy isn’t always better, so he’s also put together a list of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol cocktails, such as the Orchard by the Highest Fall (Lillet Blanc, Seedlip Garden, lemon, chilli, sugar snap peas and sugar syrup). He’s also marked the drinks on the menu that work well sans spirits.
In the kitchen, head chef Ryan Hu (General Chao) is making kingfish sashimi served with avocado, a curl of cucumber and a delicious yuzu and chilli dressing. The soft shell crab and baby calamari comes with a Singapore chilli sauce, and the lemongrass panacotta is drizzled with lychee syrup and served with matcha soil, a white peach and lime gel, and dehydrated mandarin.
Head sommelier Casey Sullivan-Myers (Mr Wong) has created a wine list that reaches across the globe; it includes a 13-year-old chardonnay that’ll set you back $2100.
49–51 Goold Street, Chippendale
Fri & Sat 3pm–11pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on November 4, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.