Forgoing shady doorways and dive bar ambience for street views and polished furnishings, Foley Lane embraces a much lighter mood than some of Sydney’s more recent small bars. Its gleaming ivory tiles, white walls and golden fixtures not only contribute to its simple elegance, but are a welcome respite from the low-lit basement vibes popular in this neck of the woods.

Despite an element of sophistication, Foley Lane does an excellent job of evading the pretention that might otherwise befit such a chic concept, mostly by focusing on the comfort and involvement of its patrons. Take the seating for instance, which has been specifically designed for people to perch at eye level with the floor staff, or the inclusion of the kitchen and bar within the overall spatial design.

Owners Nathan Moses and Julian Marchetto have clearly spent time mulling over their drinks menu, offering a unique selection of Spanish and Australian wines, beers and cocktails that pair seamlessly with specific dishes. One cocktail in particular, the Taylor Square Spice, was named after the area that the building’s large pane glass windows overlook. Its concoction of Singleton 12-year single malt, spiced apple and homemade paprika syrup imply the perfect metaphor for the fiery, often nefarious antics of Taylor Square.

Being a tapas bar, classic Spanish food has played a prominent role in the design of the menu, though ‘traditional’ certainly wouldn’t describe the dishes on offer at Foley Lane. Put simply, the tapas here is simple and very good. An achievement due in no small part to the involvement of Nelson Burgos, a founding chef of Melbourne’s impossibly popular Mexican restaurant, Mamasita.

Some similar but subtle influences can be detected on the menu, notably the tongue and cheek slider with ghost chilli mayo and pickled cabbage, but Burgos' menu at Foley Lane is really more Spanish in style. Most importantly, however, the well-versed staff are happy to explain, in modest detail, the relationship between the slow yoghurt braised lamb with white bean puree and the 2007 Covers D’or Riesling.

It’s hard to imagine a more polished tapas bar emerging anytime soon, and with reasonable prices, no reservations and very limited seating, we’d suggest a visit before Foley Lane goes the way of Mamasita.

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Foley Lane
371–373 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst

Tues to Sat 4pm–11pm
Sun 3pm–10pm