Where: Pier 4/5 Hickson Road Walsh Bay NSW
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat 9am - late
Phone: (02) 9250 1761
A great restaurant meal can be a piece of theatre. Though when you're going to the actual theatre, you don't necessarily want your dinner to be the star of the night.
This is why it was a problem that for so long the dining space at the end of Pier 4/5, home to the Sydney Theatre and Sydney Dance companies, was taken up by the sort of reverential, white-tableclothed establishment that served tiers of finicky courses and collectively bristled when patrons buzzed out the theatre doors. Like Benedict Andrews directing a sitcom, the two institutions just didn't click together. If you're going to an 8pm show, you want to eat fast, you want to eat light, and you want to eat fun.
The new establishment, with the charmingly literal title of the Bar at the End of the Wharf, provides in spades. The focus is on share plates that will line your belly enough so your attention doesn't drift while Romeo and Juliet still look like happy newlyweds. These belly-liners might be a classic Ploughman's Platter for two ($18), a buttery and tender Roasted Mushroom Bruschetta ($10), Crispy School Prawns with Chipotle Mayo that go down like chips and the prettily plated-up Seared Scallops, Sweet Corn and Morcilla ($14). If anything, the food is a little too fast and too light — it comes out snappily from the kitchen while your companion is still waiting to order drinks at the bar, and you might have to order a dish more than you'd count on (two per person is a good bet).
House cocktails start at an enticing $12 and include simple mainstays such as The Tempest (A Dark and Stormy with a theatrical alias) as well as a special themed around the show of the moment — for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it's By the Ears, a delightfully tart and salty combination of coriander-infused Beefeater gin, lemon juice, sugar and Perrier Jouet champagne that sets the mood for the evening perfectly. There's great variety in the seasonally adjusted list, which tops out at the World Famous Fifty-Dollar Long Island Ice Tea, top-shelf and strictly one per person. Beer and cider comes from Newtown brewer Young Henry's.
The Bar at the End of the Wharf also offers something no other small bar in Sydney can: a jaw-dropping view of the likes normally hogged by tourist traps. You can perch your drink on the rail of the decking and gaze over the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. This, plus the warm atmosphere, makes it well worth the detour to Walsh Bay even if your evening is unticketed. The classically cool warehouse cavern has been maximised by designer Alice Babidge (STC's resident set and costume designer), and the set-up includes a 'serious' corner with books and pool table and 'fun' corner with couches and a ping-pong table (often so dramatically positioned that it could be called the Ping-Pong Table at the End of the World. They lose a lot of balls.)
The Bar at the End of the Wharf is the perfect theatre bar, and a whole lot more.
Update 8 May 2014: This bar is now titled the Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf.
Roasted Mushroom Bruschetta and a theatrically themed cocktail
Good For Groups: