The Rook

Level 7, 56-58 York Street, Sydney, NSW

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The Rook Bar in Sydney's CBD.
11th January 2013
Photo: Janie Barrett
York Street elegance meets industrial grunge and New York rooftop ... The Rook in Sydney CBD. Photo: Janie Barrett JEM

Rachel Olding

Christmas break? WHAT Christmas break?

The word "holiday" doesn't exist in the Keystone vocab, with the mega-hospitality company opening three big-hitting bars in the past three months.

While the rest of us were switching off at the end of 2012, the low-hanging birdcage lights and ceiling fans at The Rook were switching on.

After opening the Newtown Hotel and Sweethearts recently, Keystone has done it again with this city rooftop bar.

There's a bit of York Street elegance, industrial grunge and New York rooftop thrown in together in this interesting space designed by Keystone director Paul Schulte and general manager Danae Cappelletto.

On one side of the big room are graffiti walls and dinner tables under an atrium roof, and on the other there are high tables, rough-wood panelling and a stunning engraved-stone brick bar.

Like most Keystone venues, it has opted for a simple formula; here, it's lobsters, burgers and liquor.

The first part of the triumvirate is ace. Fresh market lobster is done several ways by head chef and former Quay man Freddy Silveira. Take your pick from mornay, citrus or grilled with orange, lime and chive dressing ($50 a head).

For something a little more affordable, the wagyu, fried chicken or haloumi burgers are generous and impressive. It's tough to find a knockout burger in Sydney, and I'm not sure these are it, but they have a red-hot go.

The sides were nothing special – heavily battered onion rings ($10.50) and an expensive and strange platter of chopped salad ingredients ($12) spread around the plate like a wagon wheel.

Pending remaining bank balance, champagne is the obvious choice to wash down lobster. Canti prosecco from Veneto is the house champagne ($8) and the Stonier 2008 from the Mornington Peninsula ($13) is also a good pick.

The short but good wine list has an interesting range, from a Sanchez romate Fino perdido sherry ($9) to a deep but light 2009 Alain Brumont Chateau Montus Madiran ($10.50).

European aperitifs, craft beer and cocktails get a good run. A short rotating list of the latter is scrawled on a wood panel beside the bar, and they are made with meticulous perfection.

They're mostly playful, light drinks that straddle a mix of fruity and bitter, rather than serious, dark-spirited concoctions.

A Charlie Chapstick (sloe gin, lime, apricot brandy, sloe gin dust, marmalade roll-up, $19) is not quite the flavour explosion I'd hoped for. The others are mescal- and floral-heavy and garnished beautifully with potpourri, burnt orange and even a menthol-soaked paper aeroplane made from the pages of Hunter S. Thompson's novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

This is not a night for the broke and destitute. Our bill nears $200 for three, and we've only just dipped our toe in the lobster pool. Having said that, this place will crank up on Friday nights in no time, and it will be standing room only and standard beers and wine all round for the after-work crowd.

The York Street bar fraternity is growing quickly, and this beautifully designed rooftop is unlike the many basement bars you'll find further down towards Wynyard. Lucky some people don't take holidays – this place is a great new addition to the hood.

You'll love it if ... you want a new spot for after-work drinks.

You'll hate it if ... you're on a tight budget.

Go for ... the lobster, Florabotanica, the wagyu burger.

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Level 7, 56-58 York Street, Sydney, NSW

  • 02 9262 2505
  • Cuisine - Seafood, American (US)
  • Prices - Wine by the glass $9-$14.50, champagne $8-$25, lobster $50 a head, burgers $20-$25, cocktails $18-$20
  • Chef(s) - Freddy Silveira
  • Owners - Paul Schulte, Danae Cappelletto
  • Opening Hours - Mon-Fri, 4pm-midnight; Saturday, 6pm-midnight
  • Author - Rachel Olding
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