Fresh from a winter spent running Sydney’s first ski chalet, Eddie Levy and Michael Hwang of Lobo Plantation and The Island’s Adam Abrams and Julian Tobias have continued their partnership with the Darlo Country Club.
The four owners are longtime friends who were looking for a project to work on together when the premises of the former Victoria Room became available in early 2015. They snapped up the space and installed The Chalet as a pop-up while they settled on a permanent concept for the venue.
Where The Chalet took its cues from the ski lodges of European resorts such as St. Moritz and Zermatt, for inspiration Darlo Country Club looks to Californian country clubs and venues such as The Beverly Hills Hotel and Soho House. It’s an après-work concept that Levy says has been overlooked in Sydney so far. “Although we’ve got a huge array of really good restaurants and places to eat, that all-around package of a place where you could go from start to finish was missing,” he says.
The bar’s new interior is unrecognisable from its previous incarnation as a cosy winter lodge. “It’s an old warehouse with seven-metre-high ceilings and exposed trusses, so this space is unbelievable,” says Levy. “The biggest hurdle was changing it from a dark venue to a light venue.” To transform the space the owners recruited Sydney design studio TomMarkHenry, whose credits include Dead Ringer, Bondi Best and The Farm Wholefoods at Potts Point. Gone are The Chalet’s alpine flourishes, from the fireplace to the mounted moose head; in their place are peach walls and cactus-green trusses, a profusion of greenery and an enormous chandelier greeting guests at the entrance.
Drinks are serious business at the Darlo Country Club. Julius Yates was seconded from Lobo Plantation to create the cocktail list. “We’ve got some fairly serious twists on classics, which will please some of the more serious drinkers,” says George Armstrong. “We’ve also got really fun drinks. Most of the list has that playful twist Lobo is famous for.” Highlights include the Bubbarita, a margarita-inspired medley of bubble-gum infused tequila, grape-citrus foam and an orange-blossom flame, and the Eton Fizz, a grown-up Eton Mess made from Tanqueray, strawberry shrub, lemon juice, thyme syrup, egg white and a dash of soda. Complementing the cocktail list is a mix of Australian and New Zealand wines and more traditional styles from Europe.
The menu features sliders, tacos and oysters, as well as the dish-of-the-minute, lobster and truffle mac’n’cheese. “People are loving the ceviche as well,” says Levy. “As we progress we’ll introduce different dishes, but to start with, we wanted to make it as accessible as possible.”
As well as the “theatre and flair” provided by the bar, live music, DJs, and a 2am license will keep Sydney’s night owls entertained into the small hours. “[We’re] building an atmosphere for people to come and enjoy from the afternoon to late at night,” Levy says.
Darlo Country Club
235 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
Thu to Sat 5pm–2am