You could easily get lost inside Le Foote, the Swillhouse Group’s wine bar and restaurant in the heart of The Rocks. Built in 1838, the heritage-listed space is a perfect fit for a group that’s behind some of the city's most characterful venues, including Restaurant Hubert, Shady Pines and Alberto’s Lounge. Like many old buildings in the area, this one has a floor plan like a rabbit warren, which allows for the chance to discover something new with each visit.
Inside you’ll find two different bars with plenty of original features; both serving cocktails and a list of around 300 wines with a huge selection by the glass or carafe. Upstairs there’s more seating on black leather banquettes, with artworks by Allie Webb lining the room.
The pièce de résistance, though, is the 80-seat dining room at the back of the venue. A Greco-Roman-style mosaic mural by Italian ceramicist Mastro Cencio presides over the space, which is punctuated by tables set with double cloths and vintage cutlery. It’s grand, a bit over-the-top, but warm and comfortable above all.
The Mediterranean-inspired menu is stacked with small plates, plus substantial meat and seafood options cooked over charcoal in the building’s original cookhouse. Start with some Cantabrian white anchovies or taramasalata with seasonal crudites, before moving onto grill selections such as barramundi with beurre noisette and black olives, or a Rangers Valley bavette served with pickled onion and salsa verde.
But if you’re just in the area for a drink, Le Foote offers an alluring alternative to the touristy heritage pubs along George Street. Out the front is a casual outdoor spot with marble tables where you can see the Harbour Bridge, in addition to a covered alfresco seating further inside the venue.
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