When Speakeasy Group (Eua De Vie, The Roosevelt and Boilermaker House) says it’s opening a Viking-inspired restaurant, it doesn’t mean a few scattered helmets and the odd cup of mead. The team’s gone all out. Tables are set with Viking horns and waiters wear jewels, fur and replica Viking helmets. Swords hang between rooms. Pretty much everything you eat, drink or look at is inspired by Vikings, Thor or Thor’s hammer, Mjølnir.
“We call it Viking Luxe,” says Sven Almenning, the Norwegian behind Speakeasy Group. He’s behind this new arrival in Redfern. It sounds gimmicky, but because everything is done so deliberately and professionally it feels lavish. Being underground in a space held up by brick archways helps with the authenticity, too.
The venue is roughly split into three spaces, a whisky bar, a restaurant and a private dining area. Every meal begins with a complimentary skål. “They’re toasts, teasers for people dining,” says bar manager Andy Griffiths. One has mead, honey and vermouth. Another comes with vodka and rotisserie drippings.
Following the skål is the meat. Chef Tom Gripton runs a rotisserie and most of the animals come whole. They’re carved on a giant chopping block where everyone in the main dining room can see (and smell) it happen. “We've got big bits of short ribs at the moment, whole duck, whole chickens and whole fish. They’re going to change every day,” says Gripton.
Grab the whole animal for your table with a mix of oysters, sides (potatoes soaked in meat drippings) and entrees (there’s a spiced pig’s head terrine). Or you can go for the set one- two- or three-course menu with a matching wine or cocktail ($35–$124 depending on courses and drinks).
On the bar it’s all freestyle. Cocktails are listed under Norse mythology themes. “I spent a good bit of time checking out Scandinavian history and Scandi cookbooks. We were scoping out sorrel and root vegetables so we ended up going down quite an interesting vegetal path,” says Griffiths. He’s referring to a drink called Northern Lights, which is honeyed mead, with iced riesling, sorrel, pickled grapes, gin and malic acid (the apple kind); and the Battle Axe with chicory-infused rum and bourbon, maple and bitters.
The bar menu is mostly cheese and charcuterie (Gripton hopes to make his own in the future). It’s also the only place you can order a trencher, a medieval meal where bread is used as the plate. “We take the suckling pig or duck and serve it in big bowl of bread,” says Almenning. “At the end of the meal the bread soaks up all the juices.”
267 Cleveland Street, Redfern
0423 203 119
Tue to Sat 5pm–11.45pm