What happens when two of the most innovative crews in Sydney hospitality finally get together? They open a restaurant in a drive-in pub bottle shop, of course. Who saw that coming? Justin Hemmes' Merivale group is teaming with the Pinbone team – fresh from its Chinese restaurant foray in Kensington – on a new project, Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco.
Hemmes says tables will be set up in the covered driveway of the Tennyson Hotel bottleshop in Mascot, diners selecting their own drinks from the bottlo's walk-in fridge. "It'll be Sopranos meets disco, but lots of different sort of music," Hemmes says. And did we mention they are also considering karaoke? "It's going to be crazy, a party," Pinbone's Mike Eggert adds.
When it opens in early October, Eggert plans a menu of house-made pasta and focaccia, and dishes including grilled squid and prawns. "It'll have a big wood-fired oven and grill," he says. Eggert toyed with the idea of reworking the type of snacks you might pick up in a bottle shop.
"We could have cornered the market in gourmet beef jerky," he jokes. The restaurateur argues the bottlo location will enable them to offer a "crazy big" wine list, as well as a couple of cocktails and the odd long neck.
Hemmes says he doesn't want to tamper with the Tennyson, having paid "a handsome price" last year ($37 million, according to reports) for a proven pub. But the bottle shop being a separate building gives him some flexibility to play around the edges. Eggert says the length of tenure is up in the air. "At the moment we'll be there for the next six months. They want to keep it as an ongoing creative space."