Sydney’s best new bars range from laid-back lounges to sophisticated drinking dens. Guy Griffin goes on a bar hop and discovers that the food in these sexy new spaces is often as good as the vino.
A champagne bar in Fitzroy Gardens? Next they’ll be opening a Chanel shop on Springfield Avenue. Minimal signage, black velvet curtains and an understated interior that seems purpose-built for discreet fashion shows mean that Velluto is nearly invisible. That’s a good thing because you can savour your flute of Louis Roederer NV or Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs undisturbed. The friendly barmen are the owners, too, and they have particular tastes. Two martinis are offered, a classic or a vodka martini, and don’t expect a beauty parade of boutique beers. The small local wine list is reasonably priced and digestivi are served in smart Riedel “O” glasses. It’s more a pre- or post-dinner vibe here but you receive complimentary cashews and there’s a limited menu offering olives, pâté, local and European cheeses and Gundowring ice-cream with a brandy wafer.
The crowd Loved-up locals, buttoned-down gays.
The bill Piper Heidsieck Champagne ($19), Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir ($10), Holy Goat La Luna goat’s cheese and Bleu di Moncenisio ($17). Total = $46
Top Ten Small Bars
VELLUTO has been named by the Daily Telegraph (05-01-11) as one of the top ten small bars in Sydney.
“This is a cosy and sophisticated champagne bar just across from the fountain in Kings Cross. From the glass shopfront facade, you draw back a velvet curtain to head inside to an opulent interior and predominantly older, well-dressed crowd. It’s posh but not pretentious and they serve wine and cocktails, not just Moet, Dom and Veuve. Usually quiet of an early evening, Velluto has a reputation for being the place for a nightcap, with groups heading there after dinner to throw back some French before heading home. It’s ideal for an intimate, glamorous party…..” – Joel Christie
Champagne Tastes: Velluto
When I was younger, my Dad used to always say I was “living a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget”. Back when I was 16 that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I can now attest that he was pretty spot on. If I had a Kryptonite-like weakness (other than an excessive shoe habit), it would definitely be Champagne. So you can imagine I was delirious to be visiting Velluto, a champagne bar in Potts Point. You will find this delightful little bar hidden away in Fitzroy Gardens, just off Macleay Street. As you enter and push aside the heavy, black velvet curtain, you are transported into another space and time. The interior is intimate and understated with ambient lighting, reminiscent of a lounge bar with Michelle Pfeiffer draped across a baby grand, ala The Fabulous Baker Boys. Vellutto is definitely a perfect date venue as it automatically sets the scene for romance, but also makes a great pre or post dinner venue for a small gathering.
The champagne list is extraordinary and would bring a smile to the finest connoisseur, with the likes of Mumm, Bollinger, Pommery, Pol Roger and Billecart-Salmon making an appearance. If your pockets are deep enough, you too can momentarily channel your inner gangsta and sip on some Cristal, Krug or Dom Perignon. Despite wanting to be self-indulgent and give in to the Cuvee de Prestige, I settled for a glass of vintage Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs and was secretly thankful I would be able to pay my rent for the rest of the month. For non champagne drinkers, there is also a wine list showcasing boutique options from around Australia and New Zealand, with enough variety to satisfy individual preferences. Great tasting notes are also on hand to help guide your selection. If you are after something a little stronger, you can order a Belvedere vodka martini. The bar staff are friendly and knowledgeable so feel free to wax lyrical with them about the tipple you are enjoying or simply ask for a recommendation if you can’t decide.
For lovers of luxe and decadence or simply lovers of champagne, Velluto is not to be missed.