One would be forgiven for thinking Shorties has been around for years. Between its charm, popularity and the way it perfectly fills the void between pub and cocktail bar, this Lane Cove newcomer is a home away from home. But that’s not to say a single element of the restaurant is dated. From the menu to the music, Shorties is fresh but nostalgic.
Co-owned by Steve Jones and Phil Jensen (both behind Small Bar and The Hayberry) – Shorties is the kind of place overworked parents head for a relaxed dinner and drinks – without the screaming children.
“What we wanted to do was open a nice, inviting local restaurant and bar, tailored more towards mums and dads looking for a night off,” says Jones.
Jones grew up with a butcher as a father and often joined him behind the counter to earn extra pocket money – he developed a care for fresh produce when he was a “wee lad”. His business partner, who has worked in hotels and restaurants across the globe, shares his passion.
“We had been looking to open something for years, but had been busy with our own projects. We both had our own venues … I opened The Hayberry in Crows Nest three years ago, and around the same time Phil opened SBK Sydney in Milsons Point, part of small bar group.”
“One day we sat down and said ‘okay, let’s do this’. Someone mentioned Lane Cove – the site we’re in had just gone onto the market. We were so quick to see it the board was still on the floor of the real estate agency, but we saw it and immediately knew it ticked all the boxes,” says Jones.
The menu’s formula is simple: down-to-earth dishes that are well priced, with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options. With Spanish and Asian flavours, Jones is careful not to pigeonhole Shorties.
“We hate labelling the menu – let’s just say ‘mod-Aus’. We’ve been open six months but already we’ve changed the menu four to five times. We’re not giving ourselves any parameters, if it doesn’t sell a lot, we’ll take it off the menu. It’s almost like a league table – if it’s down the bottom we redo it.”
The kitchen tries to make everything from scratch. Popular dishes include the braised lamb, the caramelised-onion croquettes, and the kingfish sashimi with wasabi cream. The cauliflower mornay with paprika oil and spiced carrots also sells well, or the deeply charred broccolini dish makes for the perfect side.
The beers are mainly local, from Melbourne’s Two Birds pale to Sydney’s Young Henrys. The wine list plays to an Australian tune with a smattering of Italian, French and Spanish varietals, too.
“We’re not trying to break any ground with the cocktail menu. Everything we do is designed to be simple, approachable and tasty, that goes through our mind at all times,” says Jones, recommending the vodka, triple sec, watermelon and lime cocktail or the one with white rum, lime, passionfruit and mint.
Shorties Bar and Dining
96 Longueville Rd, Lane Cove
Tue to Sat 4pm–12am