“I think Sydney needs more places that are a little bit unpredictable,” Prince of York’s creative director Paul Schulte tells Broadsheet. “From the design to the reason you go, it needs places that are continually surprising and giving people things they don’t necessarily expect, while creating consistency.”
With the Prince of York, Schulte and his team – Andy Emerson and Ed Loveday (The Passage, ACME); chefs Sam Bull (Icebergs, North Bondi Italian Food) and Adrian Jankuloski (Icebergs, The Dolphin, North Bondi Italian Food); mezcal expert Reece Griffiths (Chula, founder of the Agave Cartel); Ed Verrill (Temper, London); and Katherine Jankuloski (Icebergs, The Dolphin) – have ticked all those boxes. It’s in a 150-year-old building that was once a bank, and last housed restaurant Lot. 1.
As you walk in you’re faced with a bar just metres from the front door, which leads on to the main dining area. It serves what Schulte calls “wine bar food”, six days a week from midday. Head chef Bull’s menu is a sophisticated take on pub food: a toastie comes with cheese and bone marrow, and pasta bake is made with lamb ragu and fontina cheese. There’s a 250-gram and 800-gram rib-eye steak and Roman lamb chops with sumac.
“The chefs have been briefed to change the menu every few weeks,” Schulte says. “We’ll mould it into what people want, and we [have a] health angle, very clean. We wanted to allow our chefs to freestyle. They also have a couple of pies they do for dessert every day.”
For the ground-floor wine bar, Schulte says there’s a focus on “stories, rather than varietals”. The wine list will run light to heavy, and drops have been chosen because they are interesting, fun and unusual. A vault downstairs will hold limited-release wines, but if you don’t feel like a hard drink you’re still encouraged to come off the street for a cup of coffee. Soon they hope to do breakfast, and have applied for a licence to 2am.
Downstairs is Pamela’s, where the gang wants to encourage guests to party after their meal. There’s an exhibition of photographer Stephen Dupont’s works from his time in Berlin and Paris in the ’80s and ’90s. Pamela’s is hidden behind a photo of Grace Jones, and the group is calling it a “sunken house party” room. Covered in pink velvet, Schulte says they wanted Pamela’s to have Studio 54 vibe, “but in a modern way”.
A set of 40 lockers means arms and shoulders will be left free for dancing. Bottles of tequila and mezcal will be sold by the bottle and tagged so people can come back to the bar for pours, and a drinks trolley will roam the space with punch bowls. Unlike many Sydney clubs, where the old and young never meet, the Prince of York wants to encourage people of all ages to visit.
“You do go to places like New York and Europe and there are clubs that have all ages,” says Schulte. “This is a nice place to get people together. Ed’s [Loveday] done an amazing job on the music. Disco meets post-punk, meets house.”
There’ll be a disco ball in Pamela’s. Schulte says the aim is for it to never stop spinning – and when it slows down everyone will yell “bolla bolla!” – a ritual seen by Loveday on his travels overseas. Dancing on tables is definitely allowed, and there will be the occasional live performance. In the space where Prince of York’s wine collection is kept, there’ll be different events – acoustic sets, champagne towers and whatever else tickles their fancy. Guests won’t know before they arrive what’s going on; the plan is to be surprising, sporadic and keep everyone guessing.
“This is a place where you can eat, drink and dance, and that’s our point of difference. Sydney is looking for us. There’s going to be a real party vibe.”
Prince of York joins other nearby bars including The Baxter Inn, The Barber Shop and Employees Only. Schulte reckons the city is becoming a bit of a hub for bars and clubs, meaning Sydneysiders don’t have to jump into a cab to get to the next venue.
“We had lunch with the guys from Bopp & Tone and we called [the area] Midtown,” says Schulte. “We think people want to go out into precincts, and jump around, rather than get in an Uber to go to the next bar in the next suburb. That’s one of Sydney’s biggest problems, you go to places like Double Bay and have to jump around. We’ve created a venue where you can have a dinner from amazing chefs, then go downstairs and party.”
The Prince of York
18 York Street, Sydney
(02) 8066 0550
Mon to Sat 12pm–12am