In 2010, small bars were opening all over Darlinghurst. So when chef Tim Webber (ex-Sean’s Panaroma) and sommelier Matt Swieboda (ex-Quay) converted the dank little storeroom of Best Cellars into Love, Tilly Devine, they made sure to nail it.
In true bootlegging style, Love, Tilly Devine isn’t easy to find. Its namesake, Sydney’s notorious 1920s crime boss, would have been proud. This hideaway feel, plus the bar’s rough timber, hanging ferns, kitchen bric-a-brac and intimate tables for two, give it a sense of romantic nostalgia.
Swieboda maintains a 300-strong wine list that’s in touch with current trends, but also pays plenty of respect to the old world. It’s peppered with downright entertaining trivia, too: “Yes, oaky wines are usually gross – especially whites” or “One bottle costs more than your car. And no, we don’t have any.”
The European menu is tiny but changes constantly. Whether you’re slurping rock oysters, slathering duck liver pâté on toast or working through a bowl of gnocchi, you can be sure the produce and execution are top-notch.
The split-level space features an open kitchen in the front room, and a wall of wine and bar in the back. The best seat is by the alleyway window, watching the characters passing the door. They may not be 1920s-era shady, but it’s fun, nonetheless.