18 York St Sydney, NSW 2000
|Opening hours||Main bar Mon-Sat noon-midnight; Cellar Mon-Sat 4pm-late; Pamela's/basement bar Wed-Sat 4pm-late|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 8066 0550|
The sound level at The Prince of York at 9pm is 75.3 decibels, generally defined as "causing potential but unlikely hearing damage if sustained for more than eight hours".
That's not bad for a new bar-slash-restaurant in the CBD mid-town, the very week the state government announced an end-of-year repeal of the lockout laws that have demolished Sydney's nightlife.
It seems people are celebrating already. One couple orders cocktails called Unprotected Ex and Love Hangover. Another group wanders straight downstairs to the bar, where a luminous disco ball forever spins on its axis in a perfectly pink parlour called Pamela's.
Others stay on the ground-floor wine bar and restaurant, a split-level space reminiscent of a gentrified Rosebery warehouse with its exposed walls, reinforced windows and mesh-caged dining mezzanine.
Former Keystone Group director Paul Schulte has put together this likeable new drinking and eating hole in the former Lot One location, with a crack team that includes Andy Emerson and Ed Loveday (Acme, Bar Brose) and chef Sam Bull (Icebergs). It's open from noon to midnight, with post-lockout ambitions for a 2am licence.
The menu looks like a late-night bar menu already, with its oysters and tins, cold cuts, cheese, pasta and spicy meatballs, building to more substantial pasta, risotto, wagyu burger with candied bacon and a massive salt-rubbed wagyu 800-gram rib-eye to share, for $160.
A pressed cheese and bone marrow toastie ($25), in particular, is a hangover cure made in advance before the hangover. Sandwiched in white sliced from Woolies across the road (nice touch), it's slick with bone marrow and raclette and topped with a fried egg, served with a chop-chop of wild-shot venison tartare.
The sandwich might be a bit of a non-event, but the tartare is terrific, revved up with champagne vinegar, cornichon and capers.
The Prince is also doing its bit to bring back that retro favourite, spaghetti in a bag ($32), this time with Queensland spanner crab somewhat overwhelmed by a spicy tomato-based arrabbiata sauce. Combining pasta and its sauce in a bag and baking it in an oven succeeds in fusing the two in a way rarely achieved by just tossing and serving; something that deserves to be on more playlists.
Iraqi barbecue chicken ($28) comes with a hard-core garlic sauce and pickles; the skin softened by brining, then blackened on the barbie, but still wettish.
Barbecued lamb chops (two for $38) are better, served with a lemon cheek and a solitary mound of finely sliced red onion hit with sumac and lemon juice.
Nineteen bucks for a lamb chop? Yes, because there's plenty of well-seasoned meaty fat and fatty meat along the length of the bone that requires much Neanderthal and very impolite nibbling and gnawing. You can class-up the backyard barbie with an overly pricey 2018 Kevin Descombes Cuvee KeKe Beaujolais ($104).
The kitchen rotates a few different sweet pies for dessert, with crisp cannoli ($12) making a good excuse to hit up the mezcal.
Look, it's not the world's strongest menu, being stretched across bar, restaurant and nightclub, but there's warm service and good detail, the drinks ace it, and we don't have enough places in town where you can kick on after dinner, much less ones where you can kick on in the same place.
Did I just hear the sound of a great big yawning gap in Sydney's nightlife being filled?
Vegetarian: two bar snacks, two pastas, one salad and five cheese plates.
Drinks: A dozen beers and ciders, spritzes and bottled cocktails, and a list of "virtuously" made wines that run from featherweight whites to baller reds.
Go-to dish: Crab in a bag with spaghetti, basil and chilli, $32.
Pro tip: Make of it what you will – a drink after work, an impromptu dinner, dancing in the disco den, or all of the above.