First thing’s first: Martini Hour at Menzies Bar & Bistro, the first venue to open in the monumental Shell House development in the CBD, will run from 4pm to 6pm every day. Ice will be hacked from enormous ice blocks on the bar-top to stir through the Martinis, and you can order lobster rolls to enjoy on the side.

The Menzies Bar & Bistro is set to open next Thursday, October 14. Its name pays tribute to the former Menzies Hotel, which opened in the Shell House building in 1963. The bistro is the first venue to launch in the newly refurbished building, and will be followed by a dining room and bar on the ninth floor, and a rooftop cocktail bar later this year. It’s all by The Point Group – the team behind The Dolphin Hotel, Bondi Beach Public Bar and next year’s Fort Denison development.

The bistro-style menu, by executive chef Joel Bickford (ex-Aria), will put a modern, produce-forward spin on classic European dining. Expect small plates such as spanner crab crumpets with sweetcorn and lardo; chicken-liver eclairs with trout roe and amaro jelly; and a sourdough toastie with fontina, black pig ham and pickles.

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On the heftier side, dive into coral trout with tropea onion, caponata and olive mascarpone; linguine vongole with fermented-chilli, basil and ’nduja; and roasted spatchcock. Guests can head in at any time from lunch till late at night for a meal (it has a 2am licence).

Over on the wine list, compiled by wine director Shun Eto (ex-Ovolo, QT Sydney), it’s a heady combo of new- and old-world wines led by family-run producers who work within the sustainable, biodynamic and minimal-intervention space. It’s a similar approach to what its sister venue, The Dolphin Hotel in Surry Hills, has become known and loved for.

“It’s an absolute honour to take what the team started at The Dolphin Hotel and bring it to the city,” said Eto in a statement. “Writing a wine list in lockdown has been the hardest task I have ever completed in my hospo career, however it gave me time to think and put all my heart into writing the best list I can.”

The bar menu will be a highlight. It’s been compiled by Josh Reynolds (The Dolphin, Scout), with signatures such as the In-Cider Training (Scotch, coffee, fig, cider-caramel and smoked honey) and The Dolphin’s Sicilian Margarita (tequila, limoncello, Sichuan chilli and fresh lemon) will make the trip into the city from Surry Hills.

Interior stylist Anna Hewett and Woods Bagot Architects have designed a space that harnesses the space’s heritage features to evoke the splendour of old-world European dining rooms. A blackened-steel bar is set off by a marble fireplace and marble floors, with grape-leather booths lining room. And works by Sydney artist Mikey Freedom are dotted across the walls; and he’s also created bespoke tiles, tables and sculptures. The experience will be heightened with resident DJs playing regular sets.

Menzies Bar is set to open at 37 Margaret Street, Sydney at midday on October 14.

Menzies Bar and Bistro
Shell House, 37 Margaret Street, Sydney

Mon to Sat 12pm–2am