Harry Seidler’s iconic MLC Centre precinct – now known as 25 Martin Place – is emerging from a huge $170-million facelift. Now, out of the building site, comes one of the first in a slate of new venues to open in the precinct: Cabana Bar – a tropical oasis overlooking the busy city centre.
“The city is so concrete, we wanted to do something a little bit tropical,” says Nick Wills, CEO of hospitality group Tilley & Wills (Verandah, The Richmond Inn), which operates Cabana. “[The architecture] firm dictated how the facade would appear, so it was up to us to soften the space as much as we could.”
The resort-style bar and pub has a frisky beach-club vibe. The fit-out, by award-winning Sydney architects Luchetti Krelle (Bathers’ Pavilion, Matinee, Single O), is designed to make guests feel like they’re on holiday. Its bold logo is lit up by neon-tube lighting that’s visible as commuters emerge from Martin Place. The intent is to beckon them upwards, away from the humdrum city streets and into the party. The design elements – Pacific blue banquettes, rattan furniture, shell sconces on the walls – help you forget you’re in one of the busiest hubs in the city. The standout is the 100-metre-long terrace – it snakes the length of one side of the precinct and is softened by festoon lighting and a tropical garden.
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Brad Sloane, executive chef for the Tilley & Wills Group, has created a menu of pub hits. Share plates are seafood focused – oysters, fried squid, and a tequila-cured salmon served with blue corn tostadas, avocado crema, jalapeno and lime. The larger plates are a roll call of the classics. Highlights include the cheeseburger with an Angus beef patty, jack cheese and pickles, and a herb-crumbed chicken schnitzel with gravy and fries. The bar’s proximity to the newly revamped Theatre Royal will likely make it a favourite spot for pre- or post-show revellers.
The wine list has been compiled by Social Dining at Verandah restaurant manager Katie Murphy and includes an excellent by-the-glass program. For those wanting a drink to sink their entire face into, the “fishbowl” cocktails are “designed for the long-term vacationer” and come in a 600-millilitre balloon glass. The rest of the cocktail list reads like a menu of summer classics, with zesty Margaritas alongside poolside favourites like Daiquiris, Pina Coladas and Mojitos.
“It just gives you that holiday feeling. I don’t know any bar in Sydney that you can go to for a great Pina Colada,” says Wills.
25 Martin Place, Sydney
(02) 9215 6000
Mon to Thu 11.30am–midnight
Fri & Sat 11.30am–2am