Coming off the Kings Cross strip to find the lyrics of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds inscribed on successive flights of stairs does little to prepare you for the stylish space that’s been created atop former bank building and long-time lively backpacker bar, Sugarmill.
The latest venture from the team behind The Winery, Gazebo and Bungalow 8, Sweethearts Rooftop Barbeque feels more like a beach club restaurant bar than the beer garden many might expect.
While the light, bright and open fit-out sets an upmarket tone, Sweethearts doesn’t try to be too fancy with the food. Neither does it leave you in any doubt as to its intended audience.
Barbecue means increasingly disparate things in the ever-evolving Australian food vernacular. Rather than stray too far into the whole southern-style American barbecue scene, head chef Robert Taylor (Pier, 360 Bar and Dining, Manly Pavilion) elects instead to return to the roots of Australian outdoor eating with a fresh, exciting and ingredients-driven menu.
The real highlights here come in the selection of single skewers – salmon belly, pork fillet, chicken thigh, beef tri-tip or marinated veggies – served simply grilled. A collection of house-made condiments and seasoned salts lets you ‘choose your own adventure’ for just a dollar or two more.
Other standouts include grilled Queensland bug tails with a mango-peanut salsa, the garlic-laden ‘shrimps on the barbie’ and a selection of inspired summer salads and smart side dishes.
The drinks list brings back some 70s favourites, from fancy shandies to an ironic assortment of house made wine spritzers. There’s even a spiked cider slushie that may just vie for drink of the summer.
Wines are on tap, meaning they’re affordable and available by the glass, carafe or litre, and the beers and ciders include a number of eclectic additions.