Inside Barangaroo’s newest and sexiest social spot, it seems that everyone just looks ….hotter. Maybe it’s the lighting, I don’t know – but there’s a lack of stress; languid lounging is more the vibe. There’s laughter and the tinkling of glasses. Sophisticated cocktails are held by well-manicured hands, and the ‘bar menu‘ includes wagyu and caviar alongside a 24-carat gold crumble. Everyone looks like they belong. Call it a speakeasy (they do) with its sultry cabaret feel, marble statues and feathered fixtures throughout, and put on your best red lippie. Banquettes are plush, the crystal is cut, and the chandeliers might have you wondering when Al Capone will arrive. This is the spot you’ll soon see all over your Instagram feed.
Thickly bound leather menus provide the first clue to what’s in store, even before you open yours. The heft of it, substantial for sure, should prepare you to open your wallet, this ain’t your local pub fare. For example, tonight’s specials include an entree of toasted brioche puree, lobster tail, Tasmanian sea urchin and lemongrass with a coconut lobster bisque foam.
But first, cocktails. They all have a story, a literal story, and most are north of $30, so sip and savour, m’kay? Slowly. We start with the Miss Dorothy, as recommended by our server. Its story? ‘Embark on a wonderous journey through the enchanting landscape of grapes, elderflowers and aloe vera, where every step unveils a magical sensation. Delight in the luscious sweetness of honey that gracefully lingers, transporting you to a whimsical wonderland of flavours.’ It’s $29, presented in an amusing glass horn and utterly delicious. My other cocktail is the 3 Night Stand ( … promises an exquisite experience that will leave you yearning for more than just a single evening…) because it’s gin-based and said gin is INFUSED WITH PARMESAN(!!) $29 Yes, it’s lush and not too savoury. Spot on, I’d say. The wine list is also extensive for you oenophiles.
We’ve been told we absolutely must try the ‘potato dish.’ This translates in Cardea-speak to Potato Mille-Feuille made from locally sourced royal blue potatoes, Australian Wagyu Crudo and Oscietra caviar. Three bites are presented tableside with a dramatic flourish befitting of such fanciness (3 for $36), and it will most definitely incite ooohs and ahhs as well as multiple photos, so be ready. We also enjoyed the Half Moon Dumplings (VG/V), shiitake and king oyster mushroom-filled, and a good choice for something light (4 for $25) though I’d have liked a bit more spice and filling. We couldn’t go past the Eggplant Bao (VG/V) once we saw it on someone else’s table. The activated charcoal bun was pure perfection, and the fried eggplant in black bean sauce was substantial (3 for $27) – this was our favourite dish of the night.
The menu also includes fare suitable for a meal if you’d be interested in making a night of your time here. Black Angus Ranger Valley short ribs ($42) and the beetroot and seafood risotto ($49) are popular, as is their take on the lamb green curry ($49).
Call ahead for bookings, and if you’re keen on a quick in and out, try the Happy Hour menu Tuesday – Saturday from 4 pm – 6 pm. Nightly live entertainment is a draw, too, and you’re likely to want to extend your visit to soak up the atmosphere. But if not, make sure you check out their sister venue, Bottega Coco right next door.
Cardea Shop 2 T3.01, 300 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 02 9290 2137 Hours: Tue/Wed 4 pm–10 pm, Th 4 pm–11 pm, Fr/Sa 4 pm–1130 pm Closed on Su/Mo