The Basement is back for a new era of live music, lobster and late-night whisky sessions.
Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (the bearded barons behind the Unicorn, Mary's and the Lansdowne), opened the doors to Mary's Underground restaurant at the former Basement site last night. Circular Quay's most (pre)loved jazz venue is now a hot-zone of emerging artists, natural wine and a rib-sticking Euro-American menu glistening with butter.
"Think 'Ratbag Bar and Grill'," says Smyth, who is co-leading a kitchen providing rotisserie duck and whole lobster with fries. Swinging doors lead from the full service, a la carte dining room (a timber-heavy den with a new stage and no shortage of saloon chairs) to the seafood-focused Clam Bar where punters can perch on a pink velvet stool and go hard on Mooloolaba prawns, Goolwa pipis and West Australian scallops.
Mary's Group wine director Caitlyn Rees helms a low-intervention drinks list and veteran sommelier Charles Leong is on the floor pouring a selection of natural hits.
The restaurant and raw bar complement Mary's vegan-suitable Circular Quay outpost, which opened on the ground level in April.
For the most part, live music will be free (unless Nick Cave or Tom Waits are keen to belt a few tunes, says Smyth) and kicking off each night around 9pm.
"We're very conscious and respectful of the history of this place, but obviously something needed to change," says Graham. "People have said to us 'oh great – Sydney really needs a place where you can go for dinner and a bit of jazz,' but that's a description of exactly what failed here."
7 Macquarie Place Sydney, 02 9247 3430
Mon-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 5pm-3am