338 Kent St Sydney, NSW 200002 9262 4986
|Opening hours||Mon-Thurs 5pm til late, Fri 12noon-midnight, Sat 6pm-midnight|
Batman's Gotham City was, according to writer Dennis O'Neil, ''Manhattan below 14th Street at 11 minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November.'' It's not November but it's darn cold and close enough to midnight when I visit Since I Left You, the latest speakeasy in the middle of the city. It's a bar straight out of the caped crusader's milieu: furtive, old-world, artful and nestled in one of Kent Street's magnificent converted cobble-stoned carriageways, the existence of which was unknown to me until this particularly cold night.
THIS ALLEYWAY is the sort of darkened, gothic corner where detectives in trench coats and fedoras hide in the shadows; the sort of place where a Batman comes to meet a Batwoman. The bar has a sexy 1920s New York feel - it's all sleek lines, granite finishes, black-and-white minimalist furniture, art deco posters and a wall behind the bar that's lit-up as though we're inside Gotham's clock-tower hideout. The men here should be wearing zoot suits and trilby hats, no exceptions allowed.
THE DRINKS MENU DOESN'T FULLY REFLECT the slick, sharp vibe. Cocktails are fruity and fancy rather than short and serious. I would have preferred an old-school Negroni or a White Lady rather than a Tutti Frutti. Of the signature cocktails, the only one to get my tick is the Lil Matey (vodka, vanilla vodka, peach schnapps, mandarin, lime, passionfruit, $18). The Margarita, Peach Bellini and Cosmopolitan, from the handful of classic cocktails, are better and more befitting of our surrounds. The concise selection of wines are interesting and, I suspect, chosen as much for their name as the variety (Pistol Packin' Momma, Two Italian Boys, Vina Casablanca). The 2010 Pepik Pinot Noir from Relbia, Tasmania ($12), and the 2010 Vina Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley, Chile ($9), are my picks. The former is brightly coloured and tastes dark and spicy; the latter is fresh and elegant.
BOTH WINES GO WELL WITH THE ANTIPASTI on offer, especially the olives (marinated in-house, $8). The piquillo peppers stuffed with marinated goat's fetta are amazing, as is the Schulz Smokehouse smoked wagyu, while the home-made dips are only OK. There are also Sonoma sourdough sandwiches, cheese platters and some small dishes such as chicken and tarragon terrine and marinated octopus with aioli and peppers.
THE THING I LOVE MOST about this bar is the unbounded joy coming from behind the counter. They might not have the most fabulous food in Sydney or the most award-winning cocktails but they have to be up there with the most genuine bartenders. These guys just love what they're doing. And when they do, I do. The owners are two childhood friends, Nick White and Elvis Crockett, who have enlisted some mates to work with them and always have a crew of friends sipping on beers and partying right up until closing time. White says he wanted to open a bar with Crockett because ''the boy has more personality and charisma than anyone I know, he's got this real entrepreneurial spirit''. In return, Crockett says he ''wouldn't have done it with anyone else. Nick's the type of guy you want to have on your side''. The success of the partnership shows. There's a joie de vivre here that Gotham City lacked.
Since I Left You
Address: 338 Kent Street, city, 9262 4986
Open: Tues-Thurs, noon-2pm, 5pm-midnight; Fri, noon- midnight; Sat, 5pm-midnight