wd~50 New York City- Wylie Dufresne

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Wd~50 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side is the brainchild of chef Wylie Dufresne. One of the pioneers of modern food in NY – he’s worked in some of NY’s top restaurants like Jean Georges and 71 Clinton Fresh Food.  Occupying what was used to be a bodega, wd~50 has been at the forefront of NY dining for over ten years.

wd~50 at 50 Clinton Street, Lower East Side - New York City

wd~50 at 50 Clinton Street, Lower East Side – New York City


We knew of Wylie’s place in the NY food scene – he was recently accoladedby his peers, like Rene Redzepi (Noma) and David Chang (Momofuku), for his ten years at the helm of wd~50.  wd~50 received one Michelin star in 2006 and has retained it through to 2014.  In 2013, Wylie Dufresne was honoured with the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef New York City.

For our dinner at wd~50, we sat at the bar – went for the ‘from the vault menu’ – a 7 course degustation menu with wine pairing.  And so our dinner started, directed by our very capable bartender, with an amuse bouche of veal sweetbreads with pickled eggplant.

Next hanger tartare, pickled asian pear, amaro, béarnaise ice cream  - a take on the classic french dish – the meat was perfectly minute, a small rectangle of bearnaise sauce frozen as icecream replaced the traditional mustard against the slight sweetness of the pear.


Hanger tartare, bearnaise icecream, amaro, pickled pear - wd~50

Hanger tartare, bearnaise icecream, amaro, pickled pear – wd~50


Sunflower-miso gazpacho, trout roe, shiitake, daikon – a gazpacho style soup with the earthiness of miso and shiitake and laced with the saltiness of the roe – a winner.

Cod, salsify, coffee-saffron, smoked bulghur – the steamed cod was moist and flaky, roasted salsify with a lightly flavoured coffee saffron sauce.

Lamb loin, hibiscus-date, barley, aged goat cheese – the lamb loin was flavoursome and perfectly cooked, accompanied by the finely grated goats cheese alongside the date paste – almost like a cheese board.


Lamb loin

Lamb loin, barley, hibiscus-date – wd~50 Lower East Side NYC


Toasted coconut cake, smoked cashew, carob, brown butter sorbet – the sorbet brought this dish alive as it really wasn’t a showstopper.

Our pick of the wines – the dry vermentino, grenache blanc ‘Heart of Gold’ Edmunds St. John 2013 from El Dorado County in California. Great to check another American wine – strangely not many American wines generally served in NY restaurants.  And to finish, a 2010 muscat ‘nectar’ from Samos, Greece – drier than a ‘usual’ desert wine usually is.


Wylie Dufresne - wd~50- cool NYC restaurants

Wylie Dufresne – chef wd~50

wd~50 had a reputation for being avant garde – this is good food well cooked but not with the finesse/excitement of other NY restaurants and at times, the presentation was a little heavy handed.  It opens Wednesday to Sunday.  It’s a great location on the Lower East Side and that’s worth a look – it’s where you’ll also find Wylie’s new bar/restaurant ‘Alder‘.  There are new cool NYC restaurants and bars opening and closing all the time here,  much the same as in Sydney’s trend driven market .


50 Clinton Street, Lower East Side, New York City 10002 – take the F or J Train to Delancey/Esset Street stop


wd~50 Website        




WD-50 on Urbanspoon



The Wild Rover bar- Sydney

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‘The Wild Rover’ – well, this was one hell of a long wait for one of Grandmas’ kids.  It felt like a year in the making but The Wild Rover bar is most definitely open and it really is a cool Sydney bar.  Grandmas Bar gave the cool Sydney bar scene a kick on how to harness what it takes to create not just a formula bar but to give it that cool factor.  The team behind Grandmas is looking for The Wild Rover to do the same, and we will put some money on that!


The Wild Rover - Surry Hills - cool Sydney bars - Sydney cool

The infamous green door entrance


Day 1 and sydneycool went along to give this new Irish offshoot a test run. The Wild Rover is located in the part of old industrial Sydney where wholesale businesses did their trade. The front of the building has been left as is – out front there’s the sign that reflects its past – Gestetner’s Surry Hills Shirt Warehouse. And you never know what lies behind this very ordinary shop front until you open the heavy wooden door.


Wild Rover - Surry Hills - cool Sydney bars - sydneycool - son of Grandmas Bar

Wild Rover bar


But once inside the warm feel of a local Irish pub with its comfy chairs, tables and large banquettes beckon you to sit back and relax. Or be one of the lads or gals and sit at the bar and discuss the day’s woes. And upstairs has a lighter and brighter look with large windows letting natural light flood – making this a perfect spot to spend a Sunday afternoon on a rainy winters day.


The Wild Rover - cool Sydney bars - Surry Hills - sydneycool

Rail indicator boards give you the rundown on beers and whiskies


With a nod to heritage Sydney – the old State Rail train indicator boards displaying the list of beers and whiskies, nice!


Wild Rover - cool Sydney bars - Surry Hills - sydneycool - son of Grandmas Bar

The ground floor bar and entrance


We like the way the guys at The Wild Rover have set out what they believe when it comes to drinks. They tell us their credo is “focussing on the flavour of what your’e enjoying, not simply the ingredients” There’s a whole variety of draught and bottled beers – great to see some NSW brewed beers. We tried the 4 Pines Stout, brewed locally in Manly, a dry Irish style stout – or like a Guinness “light” – OUCH! that will hurt if you are Irish.


The Wild Rover Surry Hills - cool Sydney bars - sydneycool bars

Draught beers on tap


The Wild Rover re-discovers some long lost classic cocktails as well as introducing some of their own. A list of cellar reserve wines including French and local champagnes (sic). And of course, there’s whisky – some rare and hard to source whiskies and Irish whiskies like Connemara from the west coast of Ireland.


The Wild Rover | cool Sydney bars Surry Hills - sydneycool bars

The cocktail list


The bar food keeps the wolf from the door – like spicy lamb sausage rolls and freshly shucked oysters from Coffin Bay, and the word on the ground is in the near future “live music on Sundays” – here’s hoping.


Wild Rover Surry Hills Sydney - cool Sydney bars - sydneycool bars

Upstairs banquette seating


The Wild Rover is the newest cool Sydney bar and we really like the place, the service and the drinks.  But above all it feels real and not like all the glossy theme park bars that have been popping up all over this fair land.






The Wild Rover

75 Campbell St Surry Hills Sydney
The Wild Rover on Urbanspoon

Vasco Bar-Surry Hills-Sydney

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Vasco Bar in Cleveland St, Surry Hills is the latest cool Sydney bar – location wise, Cleveland St is not the place that immediately jumps to mind for a cool bar but maybe that’s changing?

Vasco Bar - Cleveland St - Surry Hills - cool Sydney bars

But Vasco has a strong bar heritage – Max comes most recently from Eau De Vie and Luke from Roosevelt and it shows in their professionalism not in the style of this bar.  Vasco is quite a different bar – the cocktail list, cool bar food like Italian hot dogs – this is young, loud with great service, a handshake and smile – very Italian.

Hendrix Experience - Vasco Bar - Cleveland St - Surry Hills - cool Sydney bars

Just when you think every bar theme has already been done to death in Sydney – along comes Vasco to prove you wrong. This place is young at heart and very local – sit at tables with high stools, at the bar or on couches. Music is the theme here, in particular rock. Vasco Bar is an homage to Vasco, the Italian rock star from the 80’s – this could easily be his image painted on the wall as you enter. There are old vinyl record covers all around the bar – and not just rock – e.g. Richard Clayderman, Max Bygraves. There’s a whole wall of Ross Halfin photos of famous musicians on stage.

Max at Vasco Bar - Cleveland St - Surry Hills - cool Sydney bars

The drinks – inventive cocktails as well as the classics, also beers and wine. One of the favourites of the house has got to be the Campari shots – a very Vasco Bar drink. Always like to try a house cocktail – and this time it’s a“Hendrix Experience” – we were hoping for a reference to Jimmy??? – Hendriks gin, lillet blanc, frangolino. Perfect for pre-dinner – perhaps a little too lingering sweetness at the end.

Vasco at Vasco Bar - Cleveland St - Surry Hills - cool Sydney bars

A cool as touch – the cocktail list printed on the inside of old 45 record covers.

Vasco Bar is the perfect mix of hip cool and very friendly – this is the Sydney bar to check out. It’s open 7 days till midnight, love it!


Vasco Bar

421 Cleveland St Surry Hills Sydney 2010
Vasco on Urbanspoon

Ms G’s- Potts Point

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Ms G’s Restaurant in Victoria St, Potts Point – another of the Merivale venues – was due another sydneycool visit.  Sydneycool had been here the week it opened (probably a year ago) and was not wildly impressed. So this was a chance to see if our first impression still held or it had become a cool Sydney restaurant.

Ms G’s has risen from the ashes (not literally) of Sydney’s nightlife history – in the 1970’s, this was the nightclub to go to – Arthurs. It’s still a multi-level cavernous space overlooking Woolloomooloo – on the entry level, you look out through floor to celling windows to trees with the city in the background – I always feel it’s like being in the jungle.

Martini -Ms G's - Potts Point restaurant - cool Sydney bar
Ms G's - Potts Point - cool Sydney bar and restaurant

In line with what seems common Sydney restaurant practice (forgetting about what us diners want) Ms Gs doesn’t take bookings – so we decided to arrive early.  Just after 6.00pm and the place was already pretty much full but we scored a table in the street level dining area.

The food here is modern Asian – inspired by David Chang’s Momofuku food style – which really means another attempt at fusion – with small dishes designed to share. We shared a couple of Ms G’s classics – grilled corn cobs with parmesan and lime followed by Mini bánh mì (really mini burgers) – we went for crisp pork belly. Both a good introduction to Ms G’s approach. A couple of us also tried crispy sweetbreads with coriander salsa verde – subtle flavour that worked well with the salsa.

Our choices for the more substantial mains; grilled butterflied prawns with konbu (Japanese seaweed), lemongrass and lime, grilled beef pancakes with cucumber kimchi and nuoc chum (a Vietnamese dipping sauce) and steamed fish, enoki mushrooms, zucchini flowers.  The prawns were succulent and perfectly grilled to retain their juices. The ‘make your own’ pancakes were fun – the beef tasty and juicy.

Ms G's - Victoria St Potts Point - cool Sydney bar and restaurant
Beef pancake - Ms G's - Potts Point restaurant - cool Sydney bar

We decided to skip dessert – however, some odd combinations here like doughnut icecream, peanut butter and bacon.

The verdict – Ms G’s is perfect for a casual meal or a drink in the bar upstairs.  Not sure it deserves the attention that it seems to receive from most people as this place is really not about food.  Our experience this time was better than their opening week.


Ms G’s Restaurant

155 Victoria St, Potts Point 2011

sydneycool rating♥

Ms G’s Website



Ms. G's on Urbanspoon

cool sydney restaurant- bar update

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Always lots happening in the cool Sydney restaurant and bar scene – so here at sydneycool we’re going to tell you about one-off events to watch out for plus new bars and restaurants that’ll be opening before they do so you can be ahead of the game.

Berta - 2nd birthday - cool Sydney restaurant and barOne of our favourite sydney cool restaurants/bars, Berta is having it’s second birthday.  We love this cool space, the martinis are some of our favs and the food always surprises.  So for it’s birthday, there’s a special celebration on Saturday 9th of June with a banquet –  tables groaning with a succession of chef O Tama Carey’s most-loved dishes and matched with some fine Italian vini.

Universal Restaurant - cool Sydney restaurant - lunar dinner

June’s going to be a exciting month – one of sydneycool’s admired chefs, Christine Manfield‘s latest cookbook ‘Tasting India’ has won the prestigious Cookbook of the Year and Best Culinary Travel at the 2012 IACP awards in New York. We’ve followed Christine and her various restaurants and she’s still up there with the best.  So to celebrate Christine’s win, Universal Restaurant is presenting a lunar dinner on Thursday 21st June with a menu showcasing some of Christine’s favourite Indian recipes.

Grandmas Bar - new cool Sydney bar - opening Surry Hills



Now a couple of new bars to look out for.  We reckon Grandma’s Bar is one of the best cool Sydney bars – now ‘Grandmas and the kids’ are opening another bar.  This one’ll be in lower Surry Hills – 75 Campbell St – so stay tuned to sydneycool and find out when’s opening.





Spooning Goats - new Sydney small bar - cool Sydney barAnd another small Sydney CBD bar that’s sounds intruiging – Spooning Goats opens soon at 32 York St, Sydney CBD.  It’ll be cocktails, boutique beers from NSW micro breweries and a small wine list and the owner Jason will showcase local emerging artists by using the wall space as gallery space free of charge and live acoustic music every week.

STOP PRESS – the new Fu Manchu opens tomorrow night – 21st May – in it’s new location at 229 Darlinghurst Rd in the Kirketon Hotel looking very, very cool.


PS  Keep glued to sydneycool in the next few weeks for a chance to win a copy of Tasting India

Chiswick – Matt Moran new Sydney restaurant

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We arrived at Chiswick Restaurant in Woollahra – the new Sydney restaurant owned by Matt Moran – 45 minutes early, as we were planning to sit at the bar and have a martini as our table was for 8pm. However, we were asked if we’d like to go straight to our table as it was ready – We thought why not!

The place was really humming along, as there was not room to swing a cat (sorry all you cat lovers, I would never do that – would I …. at least not before my martini) Chiswick is a large restaurant with lots of front of house and kitchen staff – all very good and attentive. Our martinis arrived and they did not disappoint.

Chiswick - a new Sydney restaurant 2012
Chiswick - new Sydney restaurant 2012 - Chablis

The menu at Chiswick – classic dishes presented faithfully with very good ingredients – some from the Moran Family Farm as well as vegetables and herbs from their own garden. I started the meal with sliced kingfish with breakfast radish, lemon aioli.  The kingfish was translucent and springy with a fresh clean taste – the dressing was sweetish with the aioli bringing a perfect sharpness to the palate. My partner had the chargrilled scallops with burnt butter, artichoke puree and herbs from the kitchen garden. The scallops were smallish but with great flavour, lovely and tender – a perfect combination with the artichoke and the fresh herb.

Chiswick - a new Sydney restaurant 2012 - sliced kingfish
Chiswick Restaurant - a new Sydney restaurant 2012 - in Woollahra
Chiswick Restaurant - a new Sydney restaurant 2012 - in Woollahra

There are a series of shared main courses like lamb shoulder from the Moran Family Farm, as well as some classic mains like crab and pea risotto. We went for the fish and prawn pie – chunks of blue trevella, schnapper and prawns in a classic white sauce topped with a magnificent puff pastry lid.  It was truly a great fish pie – we will have to go back to have that again. Our waitperson recommended the tomato salad – heirloom tomatoes and sliced green olives with oregano biscuit.

As readers already know, we like to see how competent the waitstaff are – so we asked them to sugest a white wine to match our food. A French Chablis – from Denis Pommier in Burgundy – suitably dry and crisp to complement our fish meal and it was perfect, thank you!   We finished off our meal with a expresso and shared baked meringue, yuzu, granny smith apples, the selection of deserts are interesting.

The verdict – Chiswick is very casual, good food, very well cooked and with integrity.  The surroundings lack any atmosphere – this has a very Woollahra feel.  We were hoping that Mr Moran would have given a chicness and fresh energy – rather than this very tired and boring Laura Ashley look.  The lighting is far too hard for a relaxing evening.



65 Ocean St Woollahra 2025

sydneycool rating ♥♥


Chiswick Restaurant



Chiswick on Urbanspoon

A cool Sydney bar-Aria Restaurant bar

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Cool Sydney Bar - Aria Restaurant, Circular Quay - martini time again

If you’ve been following us, you’ll be aware of our search to find cool Sydney bars and our love of a perfect classic martini - where ever we are in the world, we really try to hunt out bars that take pride in mixing this most classic of cocktails.

Sometimes we can be surprised by what is put in front of us, but most times it’s only little things that will let a bar down.  Every now and then, you are blown away by the perfection of everything – from the glass, the temperature, the little things like plates for used garnish, napkins.  And of course, the most important match that can ever be put together, gin and vermouth – mixed by a bar person who understands what all the fuss over the years is about.  The bar at Matt Moran’s Aria Restaurant,  Circular Quay in Sydney with Tim Colclough as bar manager delivered the most perfect and memorable of martinis to us.

The Bar at Aria Restaurant by Matt Moran - cool Sydney bar

Cool Sydney Bar - Aria Restaurant, Circular Quay - a perfect choice for a drink with a view

Cheers to Aria bar for one of the best martinis we’ve ever had!!!

The gin they used was Hendricks.


Aria Restaurant bar

1 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Aria Restaurant Website





Aria on Urbanspoon

Roosevelt in Potts Point -latest cool Sydney bar

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Roosevelt Bar & Restaurant - Potts-Point - cool Sydney bars

When a new cool Sydney bar opens its doors, the early days are a good time to check it out. We’ve kept an eye on the goings on at the new Roosevelt Cocktail bar in Potts Point, following in the footsteps of sister sydney cool bar - eau de Vie,  last night we went along for the first night.

The new Roosevelt Cocktail Bar pays homage to its famous forerunner from the 1940′s.  The original was a famous nightspot during and after the Second World War – you can check out some great original photos in the new bar.

Roosevelt Bar - history of this cool Sydney bar in Potts Point
Roosevelt Bar - cool Sydney Bar in Potts Point
Roosevelt Bar - the cocktail trolley - Potts-Point

So to the bar – this is a cocktail bar that delivers the classics and more obviously, a whole lot of new creations – including a whole selection from the ‘nitrogenized cocktail trolley’ – they believe this is a world first.  These cocktails are served at your table, using liquid nitrogen in the mix.  I want to try the Martini of Tomorrow – which is mixed with liquid nitrogen – and made from Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray, grapefruit and pomegranate.

As usual, the Sydneycool classic martini test – although I went for a Rick’s martini – (there are lots of references to Casablanca and Middle Eastern flavours in the list) which is Tanqueray 10,  ras el hanout bitters and pomegranate.  Our verdict – the classic, using Hendricks, a very good martini.  The Rick’s martini is a martini with spice – so some warmth amongst the chilled spirit – definitely worth a try.  Service – professional and friendly as you would expect for this genre of bar and the bar food is not the ‘usual peanuts’ – how about lavender infused olives with citrus gel.  This is a great addition to the cool Sydney bar stable.

The Roosevelt in Potts Point will deliver a Sydney first when they offer a 5 course degustation menu with matching cocktails – and in a break from usual Sydney restaurant methodology – you book and prepay, one sitting at one time.  More about that when the restaurant is open in a couple of weeks.

PS – A quick thought, I’ve been thinking this space has a feeling of those bright lounge bars that you might find in many a hotel around the country run by the big brewery groups.  I, for one, was liking the very small cocktail bar or bar which is just a hole in the wall that really is just taking off in Sydney, but I guess horses for courses as they say?

This bar is very cool.


The Roosevelt Cocktail Bar and Restaurant

32 Orwell St Potts Point NSW 2011
The Roosevelt on Urbanspoon

Velluto Bar is old world charm

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Velluto Bar in Potts Point has been around for at least a couple of years and we’ve been several times in our quest to find cool Sydney bars. Most times you can get a comfy chair in a dimly lit corner, the music is always low so it’s perfect for a quiet chat. Now having said that we’ve had times when the place is full with standing room only. But every bar has its peak times so choose your time well – and it can be low key kind of place.  This time we decided to review Velluto – so in typical sydney cool fashion, a classic martini is the test to see if how well they handle such a simple cocktail – where the execution is one of the important factors in mixing the perfect martini.

Velluto Bar - Potts Point - sydney cool
Velluto Bar - Potts Point - classic martinis

The martinis were good, the bartender whose name is Cameron came over and went to great lengths to explain the way they make martinis at Velluto. He was very knowledgeable and we had a good chat with him. But back to the cocktail – it had every thing we like, except the dressing up of the very beautiful martini glasses was really too much with very big skewers and too much lemon rind – see the photos to see what we mean. Also we weren’t given a small plate to rest the used garnish on – like your olive stones. It’s these small things like unironed shirts on the bar staff which really let this bar down – and you expect better from a classy joint like this!

Velluto Bar - Potts Pt - sydney cool martinis




The parting shot is the martini was good not great, the service was OK and the staff looked a little dishevelled – the bar looks pretty sexy and glamorous. Velluto Bar in Potts Point attracts a slightly older crowd as you might expect, but well worth going to.


Velluto Bar

7/ 50 Macleay St, Potts Point 2011


Velluto Bar Website

Velluto Champagne & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Baxter Inn- this is a very cool Sydney bar

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You get a real sense of achievement when you find Baxter Inn in Clarence St – it’s like you need a Treasure Island map.  But when you find it – the journey is worth it.  This is one of Sydney’s seriously cool bars – brought to you by the boys from Shady Pines Saloon.  Down behind a loading dock between 154 and 156 Clarence St, Sydney city, then go down the fire stairs (not up – although the neighbours will direct you because there is nothing else to, as with Shady Pines it’s about people who know that will tell you how to find it). But just when you think you’ll end up in a dirty basement – you open the non-descript fire door and you’re transported to Baxter Inn.

Baxter Inn - sydney cool bars - Clarence St Sydney
Baxter Inn - sydney cool bars - for fine whiskies, beers, Australian wine and cocktails
Baxter Inn - sydney cool bars - Sydney bars - their huge whisky selections

Photos of boxers on the walls, horse racing, very cool country/ballad music, great drinks.  Baxter Inn has the best selection of single malt whisky in Sydney (over 300 of the world’s best), an inspiring selection of beers (on tap and bottled), also a fine Australian wine list and cocktails to tempt you.  There’s the original basement brick work, candelabra on the walls, small saloon tables, carpet, pretzels and a feel of a place in the city to call home.

One of our measures of success for cool Sydney bars is the brilliance of the bar staff –  you ask for a classic martini and they deliver.  The bar people at Baxter Inn know their drinks – I got chatting to the one who was serving me – he knew about Lagavulin and all the great single malt whiskies of Islay in Scotland.

Baxter Inn - sydney cool bars - a classic martini
Inside Baxter Inn - sydney cool bars

So how does it measure up? – this is a great addition to Sydney cool bars.  It’s brilliant and we highly recommend it  - go early!  Baxter Inn is open 4pm to 1am – Monday to Saturday


Baxter Inn


152-156 Clarence Street
Sydney 2000


The Baxter Inn on Urbanspoon