Photography by Big Poppa's
Words by Jane Ryan on 11-Feb-2020
96 Oxford Street, Sydney, NSW, 2010, Australia
Tel: 0499 052 201
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sun 17:00-03:00
Style: Restaurant bar
Recommended for: Cocktails, Food, Fun/atmosphere, Late night, Wine
Price guide: High-end
Owned by: Lewis Jaffrey and Jared Merlino
Combing great bottles of wine with oodles of magnificent cheese is a bit of a no-brainer. The French, Spanish and Italians have been at it for centuries, and thanks to climate change even the British are getting a look in. But where the rest of us saw a perfect partnership, Lewis Jaffrey and Jared Merlino saw room for improvement. It turns out what cheese and wine had been missing all this time was some R&B musical accompaniment. Biggie Smalls, meet Nebbiolo and Manchego.
Big Poppas took over the old Hello Sailor digs on Oxford Street in 2016, which, for long-term Sydneysiders, gave it some pretty big shoes to fill. But Big Poppas still continues to nail the brief.
Upstairs the space is small, with New York or London wine bar vibes – think dark chesterfield-style banquet seating, exposed brick walls, marble and wooden tables and a small bar at the back where the bottles look as if they're having to fight each other for space. A large window at the front (often thrown open) provides amazing Oxford Street people-watching positioning, but apart from that it's hella cosy. Sit at the bar to watch the action or hunker down on the banquette and share some cheesy pasta and a bottle red. Wash it down with a cheeseboard – they only have their own section of the menu – and some tasty dessert wine or cognac.
Tumble down the stairs for basement vibes with more cosy tables, some booth seating and a floor mural of the one and only Notorious B.I.G with his iconic crown skewed sideways. The bar down here gets busy, and it's fine (in fact it's expected) for people to swing by for cocktails, spirits and dancing the later the night gets. It's also fine (equally as expected) to tuck into big bowls of pasta or hunks of cheese while people party around you.
Cocktails are mostly classics, and done well. An Espresso Martini is not too sweet and deliciously frothy, a Cognac Sazerac is sharp, cold and finished with an aromatic lemon twist. This is the same group as the Lobo Plantation and Kittyhawk so it shouldn't surprise you too much that the gang are equally versed on Manhattans as they are Pinots. Knock back whatever keeps you moving to Kayne & Co and delight in the fact this formidable venue is open till 3am every. damn. day.