NOLA Sydney review

A Hurrican and Sazerac make best friends on the bar.
A Hurrican and Sazerac make best friends on the bar. Photo: Edwina Pickles

200 Barangaroo Avenue Barangaroo, NSW 2000

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 11:45am–1am ; Sat 4pm–1am ; Sun 11:45am–6pm
Features Accepts bookings, Bar, Licensed, Private dining, Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options, Wheelchair access, Groups
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 04 0427 4597

Ah, New Orleans. Home of the Aquarium of the Americas and its albino American crocodile (and, more frighteningly, its untethered toucan). Cafe Dumonde and its heavily powdered 24-hour beignets served by the most unenthusiastic waiters in town. Galatoires – the restaurant that all but invented The Turn (the seamless merging of lunch to dinner with the aid of many sazeracs) with the most enthusiastic waiters in town. Voodoo. Creole. Soul food. Jazz. Swamp tours down the Bayou. Steamboats on the Mississippi. The Saints. Po'boys. Muffalettas. Crawdaddies. Bananas Foster. Who dat!

This Sydney restaurant has none of the above.

It's an interesting move, really, opening a venue inspired by one of the richest and most varied dining cultures in America and then serving miso eggplant and tuna sashimi.

NOLA Syndey, not so New Orleans.
NOLA Syndey, not so New Orleans. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Maybe, if you were to be very kind, you could say the butter-poached lobster medallions served with a steak tartare captures the spirit of richness and excess of many of the Creole dishes you'd typically find in the French Quarter.

Sadly, there's little evidence to show the raw beef has been chopped by hand rather than put through a mincer. More tragic still is the lack of toast to accompany the whole thing, aside from a few wispy croutons.

Since barbecue is still a developing part of the New Orleans dining fabric, you could probably argue that the "Pitmaster's Pick" is following a similar timeline – it's not bad, but there are probably better ways to spend your time.

The 'Pitmaster's Pick' barbecue tray.
The 'Pitmaster's Pick' barbecue tray. Photo: Edwina Pickles

In fact, the closest parallel between NOLA and NOLA is probably the large body of water you can see from the window of this level-two Barangaroo restaurant where leggy hostesses in bodycon dresses and stilettos mill around the front of the sprawling, French Colonial-style room.

Service in general is well-meaning but a little all over the place. What you might pass off as character on Bourbon Street doesn't quite cut the mustard in downtown Sydney, unfortunately.

The cocktails, though, tell a different story, and one that you should probably pay attention to. The short list is a straight-up delicious ode to the home of the cocktail.

Blackberry jelly, buttermilk vanilla ice-cream, key lime gel, sable and toasted meringue.
Blackberry jelly, buttermilk vanilla ice-cream, key lime gel, sable and toasted meringue. Photo: Edwina Pickles

The perfume of absinthe that comes off a perfect, unadorned Sazerac. The hilariousness of a Hurricane – the booze-packed and fruity party drink that's fuelled years of mardi gras regret. Grasshoppers for all you sickos out there, and Mint Juleps for all you legends.

The take-home message here? Do what any sensible Nawlins resident would do – ignore the food menu and order another drink.

Vibe: The cocktail list is a straight up delicious ode to the birthplace of the Sazerac.

Pro Tip: Bypass the restaurant, head straight to the bar.