That little cobblestone laneway off Clarence Street just got more crowded. Already home to Baxter Inn and the Barber Shop, the street has just welcomed Easy Eight, the second venture from the owners of Mojo Record Bar.
Part diner, part cocktail bar, the 60-seater sits directly across from Baxter Inn. “We aim to have more of a focus on the kitchen,” says venue manager Adam Hadad, who has worked previously at the Winery and Wild Rover.
Access is via a short staircase. The room is furnished with red-vinyl booths lit by low-hanging lamps. An elegant, white-tiled bar is the centrepiece. “We're not trying to recreate anything or be thematic,” says Hadad. “We just wanted a nice place to sit and eat and drink.”
Cocktails are a selling point. The initial menu includes a list of eight to 10 drinks, including an Old Fashioned with popcorn-infused bourbon and maple syrup. The Fairy Bread Fizz is made with vodka, lemon, egg white, sugar and hundreds and thousands. A compact wine list offers lesser-known vintages. The beer selection features ales that complement food.
Head chef Harry Stockdale-Powell, who has spent the past two years at Rockpool, aims to take bar food up a notch. “It really annoys me that if you go to a bar, you don't get high-quality food. It seems that you either eat in a bar or eat in a restaurant – and I wanted to bring what I've learned cooking in restaurants in Sydney to a bar with a simple menu,” he says.
There’s a starter deli board stacked with pork belly, rye-cured salmon and pickles. For vegetarians, there's slow-cooked squash filled with pumpkin and topped with pepita seeds and goat's curd. And for carnivores, Cape Grim brisket in a pastrami brine. Stockdale-Powell is also dressing up a guilty, old-school pleasure, making his own version of chicken salt to sprinkle atop hand-cut fries.