It's a rare hospitality build that requires the services of a safe-cracker. But that's exactly what was needed at Prince of York wine bar, which opened its doors in the Sydney CBD at the weekend.
When the cracker turned up to open the safe in the former bank, creative director Paul Schulte concedes he and his team weren't exactly full of gangster bravado.
"We hid over there, we didn't know what was in it," Schulte says. The hospitality veteran and his team, which includes Andy Emerson and Ed Loveday (The Passage, ACME), were left a little deflated. The safe was empty.
But Prince of York is full of surprises. The area around the safe has been turned into a private tasting room. If you listen carefully in its downstairs bar, Pamela's, there's the distant hum of the trains that run beneath the building.
On the back wall there's an antique spiral staircase the clerks used to run cash to and from the safe.
Prince of York is a wine bar you need a compass to explore. Not so much because of its size, but more due to its twists and turns, levels and half levels and hidden nooks.The design mixes old bones and sparkling furniture custom built by Schulte's hospitality design company, Line.
Head chef Sam Bull has teamed up with fellow Icebergs and North Bondi Italian Food alumni Adrian Jankuloski in the kitchen, knocking out a Mediterranean- and Middle Eastern-inspired menu. Reece Griffiths (Chula) is in charge of the tequila and mescal, and Ed Verrill (Temper) was lured from London to run the venue.
Prince of York describes its interior as "an offbeat juxtaposition of understated design, colour, flamboyance and grunge brought together by eccentric, yet cultivated tastes". We'll all be drinking to that.
Open Mon-Sat noon to midnight.
18 York Street, Sydney, 02 8066 0550, princeofyork.com.au.