A new star lands at Barangaroo
It’s a pretty lofty name for what looks like a stack of old-school flying saucers. But Barangaroo House certainly adds heft to the statement architecture along the eastern shore of Sydney’s Darling Harbour and its burgeoning drinking and dining precinct. Established neighbours of note on the Barangaroo strip include seafood fine-diner Cirrus and the casual modern Turkish meze bar, Anason, among others.
If the throngs of punters are any indication, spilling out of the building’s brand-new downstairs House bar right from opening night, the latest venture from the expanding Solotel group is destined to be a hit.
Solotel is celebrity chef Matt Moran (he of Master Chef, Family Food Fight and currently Great Australian Cookbook TV fame) with long-time business partner and pub impresario Bruce Solomon. Barangaroo House brings their portfolio together neatly - with views a la Aria (Circular Quay), a smart drinks list (showing the hand of award-winning group wine guru Matt Dunne) and big plates of hearty share food, somewhat in the vein of Solotel eateries like Chiswick, the Paddington Inn or the Clovelly Hotel. There’s no “Moran Family Lamb” on the menu, a favourite at Chiswick’s Woollahra and Art Gallery of NSW venues. But a dinosaur-sized tomahawk steak served with a bowl of fat roast potatoes channels the same convivial vibe.
Ground level has all the volume and energy of an upscale pub. An enclosed wooden staircase transports you to a very different zone: Bea, the plush, timbered, 270 degree vista’d first-floor restaurant. The huge open kitchen is complete with leaping charcoal-grill flames, servicing stylish indoor and outdoor dining. The whimsical restaurant name was “designed to be feminine”, the marketing manager tells us, perhaps referencing Barangaroo herself, the iconic Aboriginal figure from the early colonial days for whom this whole harbourside development is named.
Chef in charge is the delightful and talented Cory Campbell, previously of Melbourne’s Vue de Monde, domain of another big name on the Aussie food scene, Shannon Bennett. Campbell has kept some of the whimsy of his previous endeavours - native Australian ingredients a given, but tyrant ants on grilled asparagus? Definitely “fun rather than fine dining”, as Campbell promises. The best bits are definitely the big things: that glorious piece of Rangers Valley Black Market beef (the tomahawk weighs 1.5kg), a whole baked flathead, a wonderfully spiced duck. Produce quality is right up there, as are prices.
The clincher, probably, is one level up. Smoke Bar. Champagne flights and snappy cocktails (the cucumber G&T is excellent) come with fanciful bar snacks, a luxe tone and fabulous views. Just the kind of place to end - or start - the night and show off the Harbour City at its splashiest.
Lunch and dinner seven days to midnight; Smoke Bar from 3pm Mon - Weds, midday Thurs to Sun.