After 10 years of rollicking good times, Surry Hills Irish bar The Wild Rover needed a polish. Now known simply as The Rover, the Liquor and Larder group (who also run Bistecca and The Gidley retained its DNA, built on good craic and good drinks – but the concept has matured.
New England’s seafood-dining tradition drives the current menu, with elements of executive chef Pip Pratt’s British background thrown in the mix. Oysters are the centrepiece, with the daily oyster selection written in chalk on hanging railway timetable boards.
Pratt nods to England via a curried fish-finger roll with a side of pappadums – a wink to the country’s famous curry houses and penchant for a fish-finger dinner. Or go high-low with caviar (Black Pearl Siberian or Oscietra Royal) with potato crisps and sour cream. (The sausage rolls that once formed the bulk of The Wild Rover’s food menu remain.)
Whisky is also still here, backed up by two rotating beers on tap. When Broadsheet visited, seasonal cocktails included the Rag Trade (Bulleit bourbon, poached pear, chinotto, macadamia and absinthe) and the Mary Celeste (Tanqueray gin, watermelon, dry sherry, dill, olive oil). You’ll also find classic drinks, and wine list that includes more than 50 drops – mostly biodynamic and organic.
At its core, the space remains the same – the banquettes are little more plush and velvet-y, and a dramatic floral installation spills across an exposed-brick wall. But while the bar was famously hidden from the street, with blacked-out windows and a heavy wooden door, it now opens onto the pavement and the windows have been cleaned so you can see inside.