Dear Sainte Eloise review

Row row row your boat: The roe boat is a two-bite win.
Row row row your boat: The roe boat is a two-bite win. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

29 Orwell St Potts Point, NSW 2011

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Opening hours Mon-Thu 5pm-midnight; Fri Sat noon-midnight; Sun noon-6pm Mon-Thu 5pm-Midnight
Features Bar, Licensed, Accepts bookings
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 9326 9745

There aren't enough bars named for starving waiters and accidental saints. Fewer still named for poverty memoirs. But here's one that runs the trifecta.

If you've read George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, you might recall the chapter where a Parisienne waiter remembers praying to a picture of Sainte Eloise, patron saint of the quarter, in a particularly low and hungry moment. Somehow, miraculously, things turn around for him and he's able to finally eat. Later he finds out he's actually been praying to a picture of an infamous madam, Suzanne May.

And so here's Dear Sainte Eloise, Matt Swieboda's new wine bar where refreshment is on hand at all times.

Dear Saint Eloise boasts a 300-strong wine list.
Dear Saint Eloise boasts a 300-strong wine list. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

He's joined by co-pilots/wine nerds Nate Hatwell and Jasmine Natterer (she's fresh from managing London wine bar Sager + Wilde). The three have created a 300-strong list, drawing inspiration not just from the wild, organic and new but also shining a light back on the straight shooters and classic producers. The result is idiosyncratic, cerebral and altogether exciting.

Here's how to do it, and have fun at the same time. Roll onto Llankelly Place, take a seat at the burnished copper bar and talk to the guys. You'll see above them, displayed in the giant metal racks above the bar like some very complicated version of French-leaning Tetris, a dizzying amount of booze.

Get 'em to pour whatever's exciting them at that second. It might be a glass of Astro Bunny pet nat – perfect for palate reignition. Or it might just be a glass of Premiere Jus – so bright, it tastes like the grapes have been sunbathing and sipping creaming soda.

Smoked mussels on Iggy's toast.
Smoked mussels on Iggy's toast. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Maybe you'll order a serve of malty Iggy's sourdough on the side. Both make nice friends with a plate of very lightly smoked mussels, so plump and giving they're almost lewd. Or maybe it'll be raw slices of mulloway, dressed in a tangle of thinly slice raw onion and fried capers, finished with a little chilli salt.

The idea here is you can order as little or as much as you like. Get lightly toasted and waddle home or take a quick glass of sherry after a long day.

But if you do settle in for the evening, you could do worse than ordering big floppy, rosy rounds of rump steak, served on a rough parsnip puree and a generous slash of horseradish cream. If I were a vegetarian, I might be a little disheartened that the only large course is a fairly acidic and spare dish of celery hearts, though as a committed eater of faces, I can tell you it's a very nice accompaniment to the steak.

The steak served at Dear Saint Eloise
The steak served at Dear Saint Eloise Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

This is a house of refreshment, first and foremost – order a little bread and a little wine and get your strength back, Sydney.

Bottom line: Crudo ($18); smoked mussels on toast ($14);steak ($28).

Pro Tip: Sit at the bar, and let Swieboda and Co do the hard work when it comes to picking what to drink.

Go-to Dish: The roe boats are golden potato nests, embellished with salmon roe – a two-bite win.

http://www.dearsainteeloise.com/