Dinner, Drinks and Dancing – Cardea Bar & Bottega Coco take date night to a next level

I am looking around a decadent red lounge room. These people are good looking roosters. A mere few hours ago a woman with perfectly groomed locks picks up a Forget Me Not Bombay Sapphire inspired cocktail as her date is transfixed, a man at the bar repositions his Gucci interlocking briefcase, whilst a striking white suited male struts across the room to find his booth loving beautifully dressed pals. This is not your ordinary crowd, this is not an ordinary cocktail bar. 

And now look at them….

The room has erupted into sheer abandon. Glass lights, formerly illuminating tables have been picked up and are being waved around as if we are all in a Taylor Swift concert. Groups are standing on their plush velveted booth seats doing arm waves. We have an intimate table for two by the stage, and somehow, we are caught up in the euphoria of dancing, whooping and dang! Having a great time!

So what happened in these hours? In short, Les Femmes

Move over Spice Girls, a trio is all you need

I first saw this singing trio perform at the opening night. Three elegant, black sexy tuxedo clad women who looked more like well groomed panthers – all sleek and daring. They opened with harmonies like songbirds, hair that should be in a Wella advert, glossy natural makeup but it’s the chemisty of friendship which made it the sexiest.

Over the next hour or so they take on songs from Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, The Backstreet Boys, AC/DC, Frank Sinatra, The Bee Gees, Frankie Valli, The Killers, Michael Jackson & Usher. It’s a trip down memory lane and they create moments with us all from a surprise Coyote Ugly moment on the bar to confessions with the audience “player v not player” which has us all laughing. 

Where else can you go in the CBD if you want to see live music almost every night? (not in a grungy basement way), but in a spontaneously elegant and wildly fun way? I dunno. There is nothing, but now there is Cardea. 

Bottega Bar

We start our night next door at its sister Italian restaurant, Bottega Coco. It’s an all day restaurant famed for its patisserie and their ‘instagram famous’ Opera House Cake. The heaving glass cabinets greet us on entry. We kick off with two items, which all of us have had a million times – burrata and focaccia. A sign of brilliance is simple things done well, but rarely brilliantly. 

Belissimo! Focaccia!

Chef Dario hails from the region of Siena, Tuscany and brings over 15 years of culinary expertise working alongside notable chefs such as Alessandro Pavoni. The focaccia is his recipe and is made in house. My dining companion, Trenna, has her eyes rolling back in her sockets. It’s magnificent – crunchy golden, herby salted laden crust gives way to steam, yes! steam as we pull apart the bread which stretches then gives way to a magnificent wheaty flavoured chomp. Flavour personified. Add to that an elegant burrata furled by scorched zucchini and you might stop here. But we don’t. 

oooh that pizza

We follow it with an antipasti of baby octopus in a meaty, deeply rich stew with Tuscan cabbage and charcoal bread which might be too heavy on flavour for some.  Dining somewhere so elegant is not conducive to an order of pizza but Oh-My-goodness you have to do it. The Zucca e Gorgonzola pizza is a gondola of flavour as delicate blue cheese melts into pumpkin cream and mozzarella with a walnut crunch. 

Les Femmes

Dinner and a show is a long standing Broadway and West End ritual, rarely to both live up to greatness. Sydney has a new sophisticated home for live music in a venue which provides elegance – great food, cocktails, service and classy entertainment

Cardea Bar, Shop 2 T3.01, 300 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000
Happy Hour – 49% off selected menu – Wed-Fri 4pm- 6.30pm (Sat 5.30pm- 6pm)  49% off).

Bottega Coco, Shop 1 T3.01/300 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000


About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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