Ante dropped the needle on its massive vinyl collection and opened its doors in Newtown last night, with a plan to up the ante with both sake and the marriage of food with the beverage.
An importer and distributor of sake and onetime fixture at 10 William, co-owner Matt Young has long harboured a dream to open somewhere he could exhibit sake in its full glory, plus throw in some other drinks "and a few cocktails".
"We want to show how sake works with food," says Young. "We're not trying to stick with one genre [or cuisine], there'll be a snack focus."
That's where chef and co-owner Jemma Whiteman (Pinbone, Billy Kwong) steps in.
It isn't all snacky. A couple of "stars" have risen to the surface during menu trials, Young says, including a tagliatelle dish with fermented shiitake.
"There's also the deep-fried dough staple you find in Japanese convenient stores, but the beef curry in the middle of it has a Sri Lankan flavour," Young says.
Sake might be the star of the show, but with its international menu and eclectic collection of more than 2000 records, Young explains Ante is influenced by Japan but not a Japanese bar. Still, the rotating list of 60 sakes at any one time gives plenty of scope for some sake tutelage.
"A lot of people think of sake as one-dimensional," he says. So Young wants to show off its complexity and how it can be served at different temperatures.
"It's been a bit of a dream to own my own place, somewhere I can get it into customer's hands and tell them some of the great stories about where these sakes come from," he says.
Open Thu-Fri 5pm-late; Sat-Sun noon-late
146 King Street, Newtown, ante.bar