After almost eight years in a terrace on Crown Street in Darlinghurst, The Owl House has taken up residency nearby on busy Victoria Street.
Broadsheet reported in June last year it was on the hunt for a new venue after not being able to negotiate a new lease. Although its new spot in the space that once housed Tigerbakers cafe feels much larger than the old one – in addition to a bar and dining area there is a lounge and outdoor space – owner Amir Halpert says the venue is no bigger. “The other one was just two storeys. If you put one half of this space on top of the other it’s about the same size,” he says.
Halpert is also trying to keep his bitcoin and cryptocurrency dream alive. “It’s something I cannot quite retire,” he says. “I’ve been trying to get more and more people to accept cryptocurrency ... If we lead the agenda we can create something that is quite new and exciting.”
At the new space this takes shape as a rewards system where patrons who sign up to digital-currency platform Incent receive five per cent of their transaction back in cryptocurrency that can be spent with other participating retailers. It’s not the only Sydney venue doing it – Messina and 8bit is also a cryptocurrency adopter.
Stevin Djie, who trained under the bar’s former head chef Roy Ner (Nour, ex-Aria), has joined the team as the new head chef and Halpert’s new business partner. Djie will continue to dish out Owl favourites including the signature gnocchi with caramelised onion, mushroom and parmesan chip, as well as beef tartare and pork loin with pumpkin, fennel, apple and crackling.
“We refuse to be committed to one thing. Sometimes we might have sashimi and gnocchi on the same menu,” Halpert says.
The bar’s popular eight-course degustation also makes a return. That could include ricotta doughnuts or ox-tail croquettes with smoked bone marrow paired with cocktails or wine. Weekend brunches can now also involve Mimosas, Bellinis and breakfast Martinis (gin, Cointreau and orange marmalade) alongside your smashed avo or bacon and egg roll.
Halpert’s sommelier background – he’s worked at New York venues Summit Bar and French Roast, as well as Bondi’s now-closed Flying Squirrel – means there’s attention placed on the booze. There are more than 200 spirits and liqueurs, and close to 100 wines – double the number the bar had at its Crown Street address. These include varietals from across Australia and Europe, plus two house wines on tap – a red and a white – from Sydney’s Urban Winery. None will break the bank. “We’re not an $800-bottle-of-wine venue,” Halpert says.
There’s also a range of craft beers available, including one brewed by the team at East Sydney Hotel, just around the corner.
The Owl House
292 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 9357 5060
Tue to Fri 12pm–12am
Sat 8am–3pm, 4pm–12am